There are some great tour packages these days, but the tradeoff is that each band may get a little less stage time than they (or their fans) may be used to. An example of this is the Golden Gods Tour headlined by Black Label Society. The opening bands, in order, are Butcher Babies, Devil You Know and Down. However, it is a quality bill, and I highly recommend that you catch this tour when it rolls your way.
Skipping the bigger city of Atlanta and stopping in Birmingham, AL at the venue Iron City Birmingham, the show started early with one of the “love them or hate them” bands, Butcher Babies. I happen to like them, and they are showing that they aren’t some kind of fluke as they continue to tour off of their summer 2013 release Goliath (Century Media). The band wasted no time getting down to business for their 30 minute set. Of course, the lead-singing ladies Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd command the stage and everyone’s attention with the strong voices, looks, and constant motion, but their band should not be overlooked. Solid and keeping it tight, they were a great musical support while the ladies did their thing. Butcher Babies has grown in notoriety, and I am sure there were many there who were curious or waiting to hate. But I have a feeling that by the time their set was over, Butcher Babies had themselves some new fans.
In our last issue, I had reviewed the Devil You Know’s debut album, The Beauty of Destruction (Nuclear Blast), and rated it very highly. But of course, I couldn’t wait to see them perform the material live, and they did not disappoint. Warmly welcoming Howard Jones and his return to the stage, the crowd was ready to absorb the new music. I was curious as to how the band would be received since the material is still so new and there are no ‘classics’ to fall back on, but the crowd was into it, and the band was flawless. Musicians Francesco Artusato (lead guitar), Roy Lev-Ari (guitar), Ryan Wombacher (bass) and John Sankey (drums) are technicians, but the taste they display when they could easily over do it really showed their skill. Another short set, they crammed in ‘A New Beginning’, the single ‘Seven Years Alone’ and the closer ‘Shut It Down’. They were polished, but did radiate enough raw energy to keep the crowd more than *ahem* engaged. Howard’s stage banter was humorous as always and he sounded fantastic, and it was great to see and hear him in such fine form and getting back into the grind of touring.
I absolutely love Down and have had the pleasure of seeing them on several occasions. However, this is first time I’ve seen them with second guitarist Bobby Landgraf and bassist Pat Bruders, who are just great and seem like they were always there. I did miss seeing Kirk Windstein at first, but the solidity of the new members made me forget about that quickly. They opened with ‘Eyes of the South’ and played new favorites ‘We Knew Him Well’ and ‘Witch Tripper’ off of Down IV Part 2 and Down IV Part 1 – The Purple EP (Down Records/Independent Label Group) respectively. They made the most of their 40-minute set, and Phil Anselmo was gracious and self-deprecating. He apologized for the band, saying that they really didn’t get to practice much, but it certainly didn’t show. Jimmy Bower kept it tight, and Pepper Keenan was just on fire. I am loving where Phil’s voice is right now as it has really rounded out, and sounded warm and full. They closed with the mighty “Bury Me in Smoke” before they left the stage. While myself and many others in the audience wished they had more time, they made good song choices such as ‘Lifer’, ‘Stone the Crow’ and ‘Losing All’.
While the crowd showed respect to Devil You Know and for Down, there were very many there to see Black Label Society. Once Down was done, the crowd clearly became more anxious and rambunctious, getting ready for Zakk Wylde and crew. I have not seen BLS in a very long time, so I was overdue to catch them live. The huge BLS banner dropped and the band kicked in with ‘My Dying Time’, the killer track from BLS’ latest release, Catacombs of the Black Vatican (E1 Music), then dove right into ‘Godspeed Hellbound’. BLS had the audience in the palm of their hand from the get-go. With his band Dario Lorina (rhythm guitar), John DeServio (bass) and Jeff Fabb (drums) backing him, Zakk clearly has the foundation from which his guitar can soar, and the crowd ate it up. Other songs performed included ‘In This River’, ‘Suicide Messiah’, and they ended the night with ‘Still Born’. It was a great set, and what you go to a rock show for.
This is definitely a tour worth catching, and dates have been selling out. So if you are considering going, don’t wait too long to get a ticket. Reasonably priced with a dynamic and diverse lineup, this is one tour that will give you a great bang for your hard-earned buck.
Devil You Know on Facebook
Butcher Babies on Facebook