An Evening with Zakk Wylde
The Iridium, New York, NY
June 10, 2013
Concert Review: Zakk Wylde at The Iridium
He’s played in front of tens of thousands of fans throughout a career that’s seen him steal the spotlight with Black Label Society and play alongside Ozzy Osbourne. But on Monday night, guitar virtuoso Zakk Wylde performed in front of just a hundred or so of his New York fans inside the intimate space of The Iridium jazz club. The diminutive setting was a change of pace for one of heavy metal’s most highly regarded and perhaps the genre’s most talented axemen.
A collection of fans wearing Black Label Society shirts could be found filing into the basement level room long before Wylde would be introduced from his dressing room, surrounding the tables sitting up against the stage. The performance would take place just a few days after what would have been the legendary Les Paul’s 98th birthday and prior to the show’s commencement, a short video package would briefly chronicle the innovator’s undeniable impact on the electric guitar’s emergence. Out first, the Les Paul Trio- bassist Nicki Parrott, pianist John Colianni, and guitarist ‘Father’ Lou Pallo- carrying on the late guitarist’s legacy since his death in 2009, would perform a few standards on their own, backed by CBS ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ drummer Anton Fig.
The special performance Monday evening, followed by subsequent shows on Tuesday and Wednesday, would be taped for an upcoming special to be aired on PBS. The cameras began rolling as Pallo introduced Wylde out to center stage, taking a seat front and center, donning a black bandana and sleeveless Black Label Society shirt to pair with the long straggles of his signature beard. Wylde wasted nary a moment as his masterful fingers began the first chords of Jimi Hendrix’ “Voodoo Chile,” performed with his own interpretative metal spin. Handling vocal duties himself, Wylde led the four members on stage like a conductor, breaking down each of the five cover tunes they’d play into distinctive heavy metal jams. His exceptionally proficient hands moved too quickly to even comprehend as he commanded his guitar wizardry at an incredible pace.
While Wylde’s penchant for inspired and inventive metal riffs is hardly a secret, his backing band brought out his bluesier side on this night as the five-piece ran through familiar cover tracks like The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See,” The Allman Brothers Band’s “One Way Out,” and an absolutely blistering version of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” during the group’s five song, hour long set. Wylde spent almost the entirety of his set performing, pausing only momentarily to almost reticently address his audience and introduce the band playing alongside him. Despite a dearth of Black Label Society songs in the setlist, fans in the house seemed to welcome the change of pace during the rare and exclusive performance from one of rock music’s most iconic modern day performers and the closeness of the setting. And Wylde, to his credit, has perhaps never played or sounded any better, lending his supreme talents of face-melting guitar playing to his raw, raspy vocals while performing some of classic rock’s most well known songs.
- Jane Van Arsdale