No encore. No aftershow. No problem.
This was all about the main event and anything else would simply have diluted a quite sensational performance from one of the finest guitar players on the planet.
Zakk Wylde might be deemed surplus to requirements by Ozzy Osbourne. He might be battling a serious blood disease. And he might be well into his mid 40s. But who gives a f**k? Not the Newcastle Chapter, for sure. Every spine tingling riff, every bone crunching vocal and every sensational solo was greeted with Wylde adulation by the assembled masses and with good reason. For a musician who could have (justifiably) wallowed in self-pity and sunk into depression following a double whammy of professional and personal setbacks the ebullient face of Black Label Society has never sounded better.
So many guitars and so little time but Wylde never wasted a minute, blasting through a back catalogue which began way back in 1999 with the brilliant but underrated Sonic Brew and which has been brought bang up to date with the US Top three smash Order Of The Black.
Ozzy’s former right hand man won that job for a reason and on this evidence it’s impossible to understand why that partnership came to such an abrupt end. Wylde by name, wild by nature was the mantra for a magnificent display of fretboard mastery and if there is a faster set of hands on the metal circuit right now we’ve yet to see them.
That one of the globe’s very best guitarists can also hold a pretty damn good tune on the keyboard defied belief. But Wylde can. Tinkling the ivories like a classical veteran, the dexterity of his digits is something to behold and even if this was one of the softer moments of an otherwise metallic set it demanded respect from even the grittiest members of the Toon chapter.
Given supreme backing by a flawless band and afforded a sound rarely enjoyed inside the vacuous Academy (Tesla’s crew were the last lot to master the surroundings with such aplomb), Wylde wowed his fans like only Wylde can. Those expecting an encore may have been disappointed but only for the briefest of moments. On reflection anything more than the 80 minutes or so BLS belted out here would have been something of an anti-climax. In fact this was perfectly timed and timed to perfection. Say no more.