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Old 05-14-2006, 10:51 AM
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Smile Black Label Society -- Hollywood, CA -- January 22nd, 2005

TOUR: Black Label Society
SUPPORT: Meldrum, Rue
VENUE: House of Blues -- Hollywood, CA
DATE: Saturday, January 22nd, 2005
ATTENDED W/: Motorhead Jeff
GEAR WORN: L/S Iced Earth Glorious Burden
MERCH PURCHASED: None
MOSHING REPORT: Heavy during BLS
EDDIES AWARDED: 8.5
REVIEWED: January 25th, 2005


==============================================


Fuck Black Label Society. For the first time, Motorhead Jeff saw Lemmy on stage. BLS’ primary support, Meldrum, was blowing chunks all over a completely unreceptive audience. At the end of their set, the brunette lead singer chick proclaimed something like “Normally, our set ends here….” <the audience started clapping> “… but there’s one guy who has always stuck by us and bailed our asses of the fire…. let me introduce Lemmy from Motorhead!” MJ is generally stoic at concerts; the statues on Easter Island display more head movement. Motorhead Jeff became an adult sized version of Ralphie when the Old Man gave him his Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Air Rifle. Lemmy didn’t just stand there, stare into the nothingness of a darkened ceiling, and sing; he was smiling and romping around the stage. Belting out “No Class”, the audience was blessed with a two and a half minute impromptu LemmFest.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I was voluntarily unemployed on Saturday, January 15th from a job I’d held for four years without even so much as a phone call from management as a goodbye. Fuck You Very Much. At the crack of dawn on Monday 24 hours later, my new employer flew me out from Silicon Valley to Nashville so I could get to know everyone and learn about the company. No, I’m not moving to Nashville; they are setting up an office for us in Silicon Valley. I can’t begin to tell you all how gracious and accommodating everyone was; it has to be a Southern thing. I’m convinced this company could never exist in Silicon Valley, and I am completely fucking grateful for the blessing of being associated with them. How cool is this company? Instead of returning me to Silicon Valley, they flew me to Ontario (the airport that serves Rancho Motorhead Jeff) in California Friday night so I could attend the BLS concert in Hollywood.

One of Mrs. MJ’s minions picked me up because Jeff’s wild desert pug puppy busted his way out off the ranch for a hot night on the town. The little bastard surfaced at a neighbor’s the next afternoon while we were on the road into Los Angeles.

Our first stop in Hollywood: Amoeba Records. I picked up music I’d never seen in any of my local record stores: a live Children of Bodom cd from Japan, Satryicon’s Meggido, Avantasia’s first Metal Opera, a Gwar EP The Road Behind, an out-of-print import by Orphaned Land called El Norra Alila, some blues, and some klezmer. MJ got some used White Zombie. The last time I wrote about Amoeba, I bitched about bands like Iced Earth being placed in the Black Metal section. This time, I discovered Amoeba’s Power Metal section so the store gets a pass and some this time.

If you’ve been to a concert with me, you know that I take at least ten minutes to disembark from the car: putting in contact lenses, scratching my nuts, changing shirts, getting my black set list notebook ready, scratching my nuts some more, loading all my crap into the ammo belt packet, and whatever else I need to do. I looked over at MJ and noticed that he was a 1000x more metal than me in my stupid Iced Earth Glorious Burden long sleeve: a mechanic’s shirt over a Danzig Lucifuge T complete with upside down cross and skulls plus sunglasses and a black New Orleans Saints round top ski hat. MJ, a mild mannered middle school science teacher, looked liked a god damn thug.

While waiting for our dinner at the HoB, I damn near got myself into a fight. Some asswipe slapped his empty Corona bottle in the middle of our table, and I went ballistic. Half off my seat, I grabbed the bottle and yelled “Dude, you forget your beer.” offering him a chance to repent. He smiled and waved, but kept waking. I reared up, roared “ASSHOLE!” and silenced our section of the restaurant. The coward walked away; I should have thrown the bottle at the motherfucker.

Our dinner tab bought us early entry into the concert hall through HoB’s Pass The Line. We walked up to the rail and chose a center spot, one off. There is one downside to getting in before the herd. You have to wait over an hour for the stampede to clear before the first band can hit the stage. In the meanwhile, there’s nothing to do but pick your nose or watch the house video screens. The same bastard that programmed the Hard Rock for Danzig must have slipped a Benjamin or two to the House of Blues guy. It’s a fucking conspiracy really. We suffered a rotating video drive-by by some hip hop clown named Chingy. To quote Hecho… NOT FUNNY!

Rue provided opening support for BLS. The band is a standard 4 piece out of the Los Angeles basin and formed in 2003. A chick, Jenna Ross, fronts it – and THANK YOU GOD that she does. She is not only the sexist lead I’ve EVER seen but damn it, this woman can fucking sing. The way she caressed and rode her mic stand… I’ve never wanted to be a mic stand so damn bad. Because we were so close, we got a money shot every time this sexpot bent over. Jenna is the total package on stage and will no doubt be going places in Los Angeles.

The rest of the band? I don’t know their names but the guitarist and bass player had stage presence and played well. They performed a lot better than most of the opening acts I’ve seen this year – and a few supporting members of some of the headliners as well. My only complaint and it has nothing to do with the music? The bass player is too much of a pretty boy and needs a few scars or something. Picture Kenny G playing the bass and there you go. That’s just wrong. <joke>Somebody should throw a beer bottle at his face or kick his ass after a concert</joke>. I’ve got nothing on the drummer because he was blocked from view. Sorry, dude.

I’m not sure how to describe to Rue’s music… definitely slow and heavy… melodic… overtly bluesy at times. It’s a refreshing change from the sonic walls of metal thrown up by many bands. The lyrics are kind of whiny at times but whatever. Rue would be the perfect band to open for a headlining Lacuna Coil.

The crowd didn’t seem very into Rue, and that made it a bit difficult for me to enjoy them. Sure, anyone can get into their own vibe at a concert – and I do all the time -- but when assholes are screaming shit about the band into your ears, it just ruins the experience. After their set, I bought their only cd ("The Attraction") for $10 and look forward to seeing them again. Visit www.ruekills.com for more information and a picture of Jenna. She looks even finer in person.

About fifteen minutes after the Rue finished, I was no longer in rail mode and retreated to our usual spot in the Sunset HoB. A week of overeating and little sleep was not making for a happy and long metal night in Hollywood but I pushed on.

Meldrum was up next. Generally, I do not trash bands because they are doing something most of us are not: performing on stage. So here is my entire review on them: No Comment. Well almost No Comment: Lemmy saved their ass.

BLS took an eternity to hit the stage. When the lights finally dimmed, the theme from the Godfather came over the PA followed by Patsy Kline’s Crazy. I can’t explain Crazy but BLS’ next album is titled Mafia. You do the math.

The tour for the new album begins in March, so this was obviously a warm-up show. BLS’ stage was as almost as naked as Edguy’s at the Key Club down the street. No backdrop. They used house lighting with a technician working the show in real time. Surrounded by stacks of cabs, the drum rig was center stage with two flashing police lights on each side of the kit. Each kick had a black retro gangster with a tommy gun over solid bright red skin. A couple pictures of Dimebag graced the speaker cabinets.

Big Dave, the roadie shepherding Battle For Ozzfest, shouted an introduction of BLS over sirens and police lights. Zakk stepped stage-center and immediately soloed. WTF? Anyways, the crowd loved it. Several times during the concert, Zakk would break into solos out of nowhere. You can say a lot about the man, but the fucker can shred.

Zakk pulled the same beer stunts he did at Ozzfest. His roadies placed a bunch of opened cans where most singers keep their bottles of water. Occasionally, he would grab one, take a swig, spit a mouthful up into the air, then tosses the full can into the crowd.

After a couple of songs, the stage went dark with the exception of two blue lights on Zakk, who paid tribute to Dimebag. While the song wasn’t written about Dimebag, it fit Zakk’s touching memorial.

Regarding the set list, I only knew two songs cold and was familiar with a couple more beyond that. He previewed some new music as well. Here’s a partial set list I retrieved from the BLS Board

Stoned and Destruction
Destruction
River (Dime Memorial)
Suicide Messiah
Demise of Sanity
New Song
Spoke in the Wheel
New Song
Stillborn
Genocide Junkies

The other members of BLS clearly play second fiddle to BLS’ star. I last saw them at Ozzfest in Mountain View from the distance of a few feet. Watching and listening from 3/4 back in the HoB definitely changed the experience for the worse. The rest of the band can definitely play but BLS is ultimately about Zakk.

I call BLS' music biker metal because of the image Zakk puts out and the flavor of the people who dig his music. It's a combination of metal and hard rock. It’s leans toward metal because you can’t dance to it but you can definitely mosh to it. (One guy came crawling out of the pit with his face bleeding midway through BLS’ set.) BLS puts out several acoustic tracks (see Hangover Music) and they just seem to fit. If you like Motorhead, you should like Black Label Society.

Iron Maiden is the standard by which I judge all metal, and I usually assign an Eddie rating to headliners based on that scale, 10 Eddies being ANY Iron Maiden concert. I’m awarding Black Label Society 8.5 preliminary Eddies. I want to see more from them when the tour begins. Fortunately, they are playing again on March 11th in Anaheim at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. I already have tickets. Expect a part II of this review on March 12th or 13th.
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