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Manchester Apollo, 22 February 2011

Photos by Steve Goudie

Zakk Wylde, photo by Steve Goudie

Support Godsized might be considered BLS-lite but on balance their brand of riff-driven metal was impressive, at times evoking a much heavier Alter Bridge.

Playing tracks from their excellent EP released last year along with some new material, it is easy to see how well they would go down at festivals, and they played Download last year with no doubt more to come.

Gavin Kerrigan, Glen Corner, Godsized (photo by Steve Goudie)

If there's one nag about this band, the music is a little formulaic and a whole album will be interesting when hopefully they'll introduce some light and shade amongst the ridiculously hard riffing. A band to watch out for, though.

Neil Fish, Godsized (photo by Steve Goudie)

I've never been a big Black Label Society fan although acknowledging Zakk Wylde's guitar talent and his major contribution to Ozzy. But, as with any band, you can always warm to the less familiar.

But there were a few irritating things about this gig.

Firstly, and most of all, the sound was poor. Always a bugbear of mine, there is absolutely no reason why Wylde's distinctive vocals could not have been more distinctive in the overall mix and, similarly - and shamefully - his guitar lacked any detail. (Before you ask, it's not just my addled ears either, hardened Beserkers muttered the same thing at the exits).

Zakk Wylde, photo by Steve Goudie
Zoom (Click large image to cancel)

Secondly, there was no encore just an abrupt ending for a gig lasting barely 90 minutes. Given that BLS are a rarity touring these shores - their previous spring 2007 tour was cancelled - hardly acceptable.

And thirdly, bizarrely, they only played four tracks off the excellent current album 'Order of the Black' including the single 'Overlord', preferring to plunder back catalogue, notably 2003's 'The Blessed Hellride” and 2005's 'Mafia' which included 'In This River' now regularly included in the setlist and dedicated to the late Dimebag.

John DeServio, photo by Steve Goudie

Nick Catanese, photo by Steve Goudie

Will Hunt, photo by Steve Goudie

But gripes aside what about the music? In spite of sterling support from long-time henchmen John DeServio, Will Hunt and Nick Catanese, I realised tonight why I have only had a passing interest in the band. It is very formulaic. I like a meaty riff or two and Wylde serves these with garnish but for me the riffs start to merge, a fact perhaps emphasised by that poor sound mix which failed to reveal any subtleties.

It was only towards the end of this too-short set that things lifted with the excellent Concrete Jungle and Stillborn.

Away from Ozzy, Wylde could gain new life and energy but the overall impression left by this gig is an artist that, whether as a direct result of a shoddy sound person or by design, has become a tad complacent.


Set-list: 1.The Beginning... At Last 2. Crazy Horse 3.What's in You 4.The Rose Petalled Garden 5.Funeral Bell
6.Overlord 7.Parade of the Dead 8.Piano solo 9.In This River 10.Fire It Up 11.Guitar Solo 12.Godspeed Hell Bound
13.The Blessed Hellride 14.Suicide Messiah 15.Concrete Jungle 16.Stillborn

Review by David Randall

Photos by Steve Goudie

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