Black Label Society@ The Garage, Glasgow

Date: 11/2/15
Review by Ritchie Birnie
Photography by Gavin Lowrey

The heavy metal Hagrid is back to grace the shores of the UK and kick our butts. But before we get to the main event we have 2 completely different support bands.

Crobot( 4/5) are a relatively new band starting up in 2011. They describe their music as dirty groove( got a ring to it) and it does as it says on the tin. Brilliant vocals from Brandon Yeagley and a very tight band. Brandon is definitely a showman and has the nonce to get the crowd in the palm of his hand. If you like a little boogie to your music give their 2014 release, something supernatural a listen. It’s a cracking debut, full length.
They played a good amount of it to the delight of the crobot, t-shirt wearing fans( and there were a good few) and I am sure they will win over a fair few more with this tour. As well as a great show the guys came into the crowd later and spoke and had photos with anyone who spoke to them. I can see a good future for this band. Check them out.
And then we have Black Tusk( 3.5/5) a different animal altogether. No time for things like peace, harmony or little fluffy kittens. The band are in your face right from the start. A three piece band and they all do vocals. They are described as swamp metal but that just doesn’t cut it unless you have been thrown into said swamp with concrete shoes, wired to an electric company with crocodiles beating you up with barbed wire covered baseball bats all the way to the bottom. A brutal onslaught of drums, bass and guitars.
You can hear the bands punk roots and attitude. There is no messing, no stopping for a chat with the audience. They want to get on and play for you. There is an air of disquiet and pent up fury within the band which may come from the loss of previous band member Jonathan Athon to a motorcycle accident. These guys all lived on the same street and it was nice to see the acknowledgement and chug from a bottle of liquor in his name.
So if you like your metal fast, furious, loud and brutal this is for you. Well worth a listen and I wish the band well.
Now for the chaos that is Black Label Society(5/5). The lights dim. The curtain is up( I think it may have graced bigger halls as I can barely see the skull). The PA crackles to life and out blasts…….bagpipes. We have a full blown rendition of Flower of Scotland that gets the crowd singing along at the top of their voice. Once that finishes the air raid sirens start. The red searchlights spinning behind the curtain like an apocalyptic warning before we enter into a mash up of Zeppelin and War Pigs( which gets the crowd singing along again). A nice touch to give the tip of a hat to his former singer and the fact that in this week the Black Sabbath album made it’s debut 45 years ago…..yes folks metal is 45 years old now.
The mash up finishes. The lights go down again and the curtain falls. Low and behold we have the rock god bedecked in a kilt. That’s it. The crowd go over the top now. Zakk knows how to win over an audience. He may have heard some of Ozzy’s stories about the tough crowds in Scotland( did you know Ozzy specifically picked his first gig with Blizzard of Oz to be in Glasgow quoting” if I don’t make it here its over”). There is no chance of that tonight. Scotland has a new god and his name is Zakk. Forget all that sectarian crap and get on your knees and hail the hairy one,( bit off advice to Zakk should he ever give up music………you can be the poster boy for Scott’s porridge oats and highland games……you will make a mint).
So after the shock and awe of the kilt and once the ladies were picked up off the floor we are already halfway through The beginning… last. No time to breathe here and the guys decide to knock us flat with a brilliant version, all power, all guts and like a blow to the head with a very blunt instrument. Funeral bell keeps the pressure up with some nice guitar work. It also shows the voice of the man. Sometimes people can have too much talent ha ha. Lets the rest of us feel a bit useless.
Bleed for me is next up with the light show coming into its own with a fist pumping Zakk. The crowd in a frenzy at the front with plenty of crowd surfing early on. We also get some brilliant fretwork on bass from john deServio. Its at this point I take in the whole band. Every one very talented and manage to provide Zakk with a robust and completely solid foundation. It is far too easy to overlook them with the showman up front and centre but never forget this is a band and a brilliantly tight one.
The next four songs pass in the blink of an eye and I am sure that there is blood coming from my ears. We now settle on the guitar solo. Anyone who knows me will know how I feel about these. They can be placed in far too often and by somewhat mediocre players but when someone of this stature takes to the frets you have to listen. We all know the qualities of past Ozzy guitarists. The man has a knack of finding the best there is. If he sold his soul for anything it was to have the best damned guitar players at his side. My Ozzy statements will stop here as the man is a master in his own right. He has outgrown his past and melded his own future……and he looks as happy as farm animal in faeces.
From the solo we fly into Godspeed. Brutal drumming and a riff that has a pneumatic drill pushing it into your head. The one thing you can expect from a BLS show is it is not for the feint hearted….and just then we stop for a lull and intro to the band( I am sure this is to clear up the collateral damage all over the place) but a nice touch that just doesn’t happen often enough today.
I reckon someone is getting tired as we have a further 2 songs before the piano is dragged out and the man has yet more talent to show off but a brilliant part of the show and the quiet before the storm as the last 3 songs wrap up with the unmistakable stillborn. All in all a fantastic show and if you have not seen them live do yourself a favour now. I just hope we don’t have to wait so long to see them again. OK I am away for a concussion check…..something is loose.
Intro Whole lot of Sabbath
(followed by band introductions)
(preceded by piano solo)