Zakk Wylde began the North American leg of his Book of Shadows II tour with openers Jason James Nichols and Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown.

08-July-2016: A hot Friday evening in July was fraught with tension after the previous night’s senseless killing of five Dallas police officers. The crowd talked about it incessantly, and it was apparent that a diversion was needed. Music, as always, provided a great distraction for times such as these.

A light crowd showed up early to hear Jared James Nichols, a power trio that led off the evening. Their heavy rock brought the crowd to life. Their final song, a cover of “Mississippi Queen,” was a highlight.

Up next was Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown with their brand of hard rock and Texas blues. Tyler showed a stage presence that belied his 25 years of age. They displayed an early Ted Nugent sound, but their cover of the Muddy Waters hit, “I Got My Mojo Working,” thrilled the crowd.

The large walk-up crowd filled the general admission area as people jostled to get in prime viewing position. The lights dimmed and came back on with Zakk Wylde on stage.

With no introduction, they immediately began with “Sold My Soul,” a melodic song that transformed into a frenetic guitar solo. Zakk played his Flying V guitar behind his head, then picked the strings with his teeth on the 10-minute jam to finish the song. The track was from Book Of Shadows, his first solo album in 1996. Book Of Shadows II, released in 2016, was represented by “Autumn Changes.”

Both Book Of Shadows albums feature Zakk’s songwriting skills with lots of ballads and only the occasional fast-paced picking he is known for in Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne. “Tears Of December” and “Lay Me Down” were fine examples.

Wylde and keyboardist Dario Lorina traded places for “Road Back Home,” a well-written ballad with tremendous backing harmony. “Yesterday’s Tears” was next and contained lyrics the crowd sang by heart.

Zakk showed even more versatility when he opened “Between Heaven And Hell” with a rocking harmonica solo before having a face-off with Dario after switching back to his trademark guitar. His solo on “Darkest Hour” wasn’t just guitar work, it fit the song better than more words could have done.

The only song not on one of the two albums was the requisite guitar solo that he played in the middle of the crowd. The audience quickly enveloped him and raised their cameras high to record it, so no one could see him play, although it sounded like vintage Zakk Wylde. Once back on the stage, he beat his chest and took in the well-deserved adulation.

He again displayed his songwriting skills on the next two ballads before playing the hard rock “Eyes Of Burden.” It segued into “Way Beyond Empty,” a slow song that increased its tempo throughout to finish as rock and roll. Guitarist John DeServio, as he did all night, provided excellent guitar accompaniment.

Zakk then took the stage alone for the spiritual “The King.” The emotion showed in his voice as he sang directly from his heart and soul. He then took the time to speak briefly on the violence from the night before and dedicated the entire show to the victims.

The hard-edged “Lost Prayer,” with a throbbing drum beat from Jeff Fabb, thrilled the crowd. They finished with “Sleeping Dogs,” punctuated by a frenetic solo and culminating with Zakk holding his Custom V high above his head to end the show to thunderous applause.

The dedicated Berzerkers knew this tour only incorporated songs from his two solo albums and focused on lyrics and ballads. A few fans expected his usual guitar exploits and he played enough solos to please them, too.

His talents are undeniable, and listeners from many different genres enjoy all of his music. While many fans hoped to hear material from Ozzy and Black Label Society, everyone was pleased with the setlist. It turned out to be the beginning of the healing process that Dallas desperately needs.

Catch Zakk on tour through September 03. Special thanks go to Brice at GML for his help.

Joe Guzman of National Rock Review was on hand to record the event.

Zakk Wylde
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Jared James Nichols
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Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown
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Gas Monkey Live
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