Story by Kasey Patola

February 24 saw the return of Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde to Thunder Bay as part of his sold out, 13-city tour across Canada. The intimate setting of the performance gave audience members a chance to hear Zakk Wylde play songs that mixed elements of folk, blues, southern rock and country along with heavy metal. For anyone expecting a mellow performance, his powerful voice and overdriven solos pushed the envelope of acoustic performance.

Joined by newest Black Label Society member Dario Lorina on second guitar, Wylde played stripped-down versions of his band’s songs as well as material from his Book of Shadows and Pride and Glory albums. The set showed a side of his songwriting and singing that sets him apart from most heavy metal guitar shredders. Audience members were treated to acoustic songs that quickly gave way to extended guitar solos. Playing some songs on piano including a cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” were nice touches.

“This is a special thank you to the Canadian fans for making ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ top 20 – Top 20 people!” said Wylde. “To do a more intimate, stripped-down show, especially in cities where you’re so embraced – is just the ultimate. You can take a song that you’ve played thousands of times, rearrange it and suddenly its something totally fresh and new.”

Since landing the role as lead guitarist and co-writer for Ozzy Osbourne in the 80s, Zakk Wylde has grown from a sideman to a frontman with legendary status. It is not often that you would get to see someone of his caliber in such a close setting and Crocks was a perfect venue for the show.