Black Label Society, Children Of Bodom and more at Congress Theatre (2010)

Congress Theatre (Chicago, USA)

Black Label Society, Children Of Bodom, Clutch, 2cents
MariaV: When the entire 'package' of the 'Black Label Berzerkus' tour was announced, it seemed […]
By Maria Voutiriadou, Dimitris Kontogeorgakos
November 6, 2010

MariaV: When the entire 'package' of the 'Black Label Berzerkus' tour was announced, it seemed to be a very tempting for every fan of the heavy sound and devotee of Zakk Wylde's paroxysmal guitar playing. So, METAL TEMPLE couldn't miss that very promising evening and there we were, outside the historical Congress Theater at downtown Chicago in the early afternoon, since lots of people were thronging there to watch a bunch of heavy riffage bands from US with the glorious exception of CHILDREN OF BODOM from Finland; I can't still understand the reason of their existence in this such in-your-face billing, apart from the intension to attract wider audience keeping in mind the success in the US.

The schedule was followed precisely and the doors opened at 6:30 making the venue looked almost full after a while. For those who have never been in Congress Theater, I have to mention that it is an excellent place for this kind of shows, capable to host3000 people, armed with that huge stage and the 'damp' atmosphere of a 20s theater that provoke an awe to everyone who enters the main hall. 2CENTS were those who would be the openers of that long night and during their 30 minutes' set, thrashed our faces off with the PANTERA-esque attitude and the solid aggressiveness onstage, owing to Adam O'Rourke who is a blow-minding frontman (you are free to compare him with the great Phil Anselmo, you know). "Dressed To Kill" was the leading act of their performance and warmed us up for good. But the time clocked so fast…

…so, the stage could be prepared to welcome the Maryland boys. CLUTCH were coming up next and I was pretty curious to understand why they were before CHILDREN OF BODOM a band that counts only 6 studio albums in contrast to CLUTCH who have no less than 9 full-length releases under the belt, not to mention a discography of EPs and rarities collections that only the most hardcore of fans can keep track of. Well, I would prefer to watch CLUTCH right before BLACK LABEL SOCIETY for a non stoppable and massive dose of headbanging but, whatever… The characteristic CLUTCH banner appeared in the background above stage and Neil Fallon came up onstage with the rest of the CLUTCH members, signaling to start the party: the stoner blues rock quartet welcomed us with "King Of Arizona" from my personal favorite "Slow Hole To China"and Tim Sult's fingers were on fire. 'A small talk and lots of blues': these words fitted perfectly to CLUTCH's live appearance who tried to squeeze into the 35 minutes' a setlist with all the best hits, if I might use this word for CLUTCH's music, since every song reach the 'hit' standards by itself.

In the highlights, you'll find the macho "Struck Down", the rousing and southern "LaCurandera" and the well-known "50.000 Unstoppable Watts" where many knew almost every word and screamed the lyrics accompanying Neil. However, my only complaint (and not only mine) was that tracks like "Four Lords", "Electric Worry" or "Abraham Lincoln" (Chicago is the land of Abraham Lincoln, man!) were not included in the setlist and here, I have to say one more time that I can't understand why these professionals had to pass the baton to CHILDREN OF BODOM and not the opposite. I guess that DimK might try to give me (and you, of course) one good reason for this. So, read below…

CLUTCH setlist:

  1. "King Of Arizona"
  2. "The Elephant Riders"
  3. "Struck Down"
  4. "The Devil & Me"
  5. "La Curandera"
  6. "50,000 Unstoppable Watts"
  7. "I"
  8. "Pure Rock Fury"
  9. "The Regulator"

DimK: Whoever tells you that there is an objective live/album reviewer is simply lier or has not a clue about it. So, I won't hide behind my finger and I will clear myself by saying that I am not a CHILDREN OF BODOM fan. But, for reasons that I cannot explain the US young fans have a way different opinion. In fact this is why COB where included in the US BLACK LABEL SOCIETY to attract bigger crowds. And watching all the front rows getting crowded I think they did a wise move. Answering to the above question about the billing I think that in these cases it is the album selling numbers that "decide" when the band are going to play. Without any doubt CHILDREN OF BODOM are ahead of the blue/stoner rockers CLUTCH.

This was my second time watching the Finnish band onstage and I can say right from the start that they did not earn me, again. There is something "wrong" in the music structures that made their songs sound the same and in time a little bit confusing. I mean, there is a nice start with the keyboards and Laiho shredding work and scattered catchy bridges but sadly that's all. To my ears COB sounds like the distant relative to IN FLAMES with less heaviness and certainly with less creativity.

During their set everyone was focused to Laiho who is quite a frontman moving along the stage nailing all the riffs underlining his high skills with the six strings. The crowd loved him and hence, made the rest of the band look like session musicians. It is ok to have a strong persona in a band but in moments like that COB felt like a solo project. Despite my different taste I did manage to enjoy most of "Blooddrunk" and part of "Hate Crew Deathroll" but these were not enough to change my attitude towards this band.


  1. "Silent Night, Bodom Night"
  2. "Hate Me!"
  3. "Living Dead Beat"
  4. "In Your Face"
  5. "Angels Don't Kill"
  6. "Blooddrunk"
  7. "Downfall"
  8. "Hate Crew Deathroll"

DimK: This would be the second time for me to watch Zakk and his band live and I have to admit I was not expecting much. The first time was in Athens, Greece where BLACK LABEL SOCIETY appeared in Greece's 'Rockwave' festival under the burning summer sun and hence were not in a top form. Nevertheless, BLS would perform in front of a US audience with far better conditions so, I had to give Zakk a second chance.

The big curtain in front of the stage featured the BLS logo something that was quite impressive. CHILDREN OF BODOM did nothing to warm us up (according to my taste) so Zakk just had to do better. And then, the lights went out and the piano intro made everyone scream with enthusiasm, calling BLS to show up! Even though I was skeptic about this show, the atmosphere kind of carried me away and I found myself trying to look past the curtain with anticipation. The intro gave its place to the sirens, while the lights went red and "Chicago will you please welcome BLACK LABEL SOCIETY?"introduced the ton heavy guitar riff of "The Beginning…At Last". Zakk showed up behind the skull covered mic stand singing the lyrics with his trademark Ozzy sounding vocals. The sound was amazing and you could feel the Zakk's vibrato hitting you right in your brain. All the second thoughts I had prior to this concert, melted as soon as "Crazy Horse" hit us with another bone breaking riff.

Despite his recent health issues, Zakk looked in a top notch and did his magic on the six strings. But, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY was not all about the charismatic persona of Zakk Wylde. The rest of the band looked granite solid with Nick Catanese and John DeServio having their share of the onstage energy, building a two-way communication channel with the US crowd. In this point, I have to comment on the attendance that was far from what I was expecting; the 3000 faces proved that BLS have a very strong fan-base in Chicago, despite the fact that some young "metalheads" left after CHILDREN OF BODOM had left the stage. The lights were also excellent making my job in the photo pit a walk in the park, while the projection screen placed the back gave an extra push to the visual aspect of the entire show. "Funeral Bell" was one of the climax moments featuring the killer headbanging rhythm that was enhanced by the loud yet crystal clear sound. Zakk sounded so much better live as compared to the studio, leaving aside the too much Ozzy influenced vocals singing in a lower pitch.

The ultimate highlight of the concert was meant to be the almost ballad "In This River". For this song a piano with the BLS logo was brought in the center of the stage and Zakk for the first time left his guitar on the side. This song dedicated to Dimebag Darrel and his picture, which came many times on the projection screen embedded on the "In This River" video clip, sprung the spontaneous applaud from everyone present. I tell you that was a strong moment that found everyone focused and for this Zakk deserves additional credit."Fire It Up" brought the distortion back and with the previous "heavy" atmosphere found an outlet after the trademark talk-box guitar effect that after a while was replaced by the heavy as hell groove of this track.

Zakk did a guitar solo probably to give to his voice a break and amazed us with his dexterity and endurance. After all, he was playing the guitar for almost 90 minutes non-stop and that was not an easy going solo. The triplet "Godspeed Hell Bound"/ "The Blessed Hellride"/ "Suicide Messiah" was absolutely blow-minding increasing our mood in heaven, when "Stillborn" took the last drops of energy left in the audience that did its part by forming mosh-pits, occasionally crowd surfing and with lots of headbanging following the killer guitar riffs. So, after those 90 minutes I came to the conclusion that I had just watched BLACK LABEL SOCIETY for the first time in my life. The Athenian concert was nothing compared to the Chicago performance that had everything; massive sound, impressive lights, groovy rhythms and a great deal of guitar vibrato. That was the definition of a 100% honest live!

MariaV: Zakk proved once more to everyone that his music persona can fill an entire stage by itself when he stands behind the mic, being a 100% professional during his show, respecting his audience. But most of all, BLS is a matter of a strong family, where everyone supports each other and in the center of that, we find Zakk; this saying is highlighted by the way BLS saluted the crowd, staying onstage for a while after the end of the concert. Thank you for this wonderful evening, Zakk. God bless you!


  1. "The Beginning… At Last"
  2. "Crazy Horse"
  3. "What's in You"
  4. "The Rose Petalled Garden
  5. "Funeral Bell"
  6. "Overlord"
  7. "Parade Of The Dead"
  8. "In This River"
  9. "Fire It Up"
  10. Guitar Solo
  11. "Godspeed Hell Bound"
  12. "The Blessed Hellride"
  13. "Suicide Messiah"
  14. "Concrete Jungle"
  15. "Stillborn"

(photos by the Overlord)





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