With Ozzy Osbourne’s unfortunate cancellations of shows for 2019, guitarist Zakk Wylde has had some time to hit the road on his own. He ripped across the country with the Generation Axe Tour and played with his doom stomping metal outfit Black Label Society. His other passion is his supercharged cover band, Zakk Sabbath, and they bring forward the legendary Black Sabbath material in a blazing fashion that only the flamboyant Zakk Wylde can deliver. The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota witnessed a riveting show by the three piece. Comedian Don Jamieson provided support for the evening.
Don Jamieson is best known in the metal world as the one of the hosts for VH1 Classic’s ‘That Metal Show’. The show ran fourteen seasons and viewers got to know Jamieson each week with his humor and opinions on various musical topics. When you’re staring at room full of metalheads its best to hit with common ground. He joked and talked about numerous metal alumni such as Vince Neil, Rob Halford, Sebastian Bach and Lemmy, which kept the crowds attention. It was quick thirty-minute set that got some good laughs and interaction with Jamieson and with each other.
It didn’t take but a few seconds of “Supernaut” to have the crowd thrusting the horns in the air. Zakk quickly went to his perch and started with the iconic headshake that has his hair taking away any visibility of his face. His weapon of choice was the dazzling Wylde Audio Psychic Bullseye Barbarian guitar, which matched his Sabbath inspired purple kilt. “Snowblind” was next and you could feel the energy from the crowd coming towards the stage. This show was balanced between some well know cuts but also some deeper cuts like “A National Acrobat” and “Under The Sun.” Zakk really capitalized on “Wicked World” with its various sections of hard-hitting riffs and jazz styled interludes, it allowed a fret explosion of notes that blanketed the audience all the way to the back. The bass line, so masterfully played by Geezer Butler, was handled perfectly by John “JD” DeServio. With the rhythm section being vital in pulling these songs off, and giving Wylde all that freedom to shred, DeServio was paired with drummer Joey Costillo and together there were as fantastic. Zakk Wylde deservingly so gets the accolades and almost all of the conversation about the night will revolve around him, but that rhythm duo allowed all the madness to happen.
Zakk rarely spoke to the crowd; he let the music do most of the talking all night. He teased a few notes of “Black Sabbath” before unleashing “Fairies Wear Boots” which was a highlight of the night. “Into The Void” saw Zakk make his way to the back of the theater, surrounded by security; he unloaded a sonic assault from his guitar that had everybody reaching for their cell phones to video it. The attack was so precise and kept coming at such a rapid pace that over time I became almost mesmerized by it. Returning to the stage the trio blasted through a more up-tempo version of “Children Of The Grave” and then we got our first break. Zakk introduced the band and JD got chance to groove on the “Hand Of Doom” intro. Now that the band and audience had a chance to towel off and catch their breath the music continued with “Behind The Wall Sleep” and the ultra catchy “N.I.B.” Fans took advantage of every “Oh Yeah” they could possible scream out during the song. It was no surprise that “War Pigs” would close the show. Lead vocals were pretty much left to the crowd as Zakk made his way up to the balcony and blazed through another shredfest. He finally made his way back to his perch and gave the crowd one last squeal from his guitar. He pounded his chest and took one last glance of the people and left the stage.
There is no question Zakk Wylde is guitar icon. From the moment he jumped on board Ozzy’s Crazy Train people have gravitated to him and his playing. He grabs your attention and has a flair that keeps you locked into him. He has a tremendous passion for Black Sabbath and it shows through when he plays it. The depth he reached into the catalog, not just sticking to the assumed playlist, no “Paranoid” or “Iron Man,” made the set more interesting and unexpected. If you’re a Zakk Wylde fan you’re probably happy watching him play just about anything, but seeing him in Zakk Sabbath was really fun and I’ve been digging back into those classic Sabbath since the show. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.