Monday, December 23, 2013

Black Sabbath, LG Arena, NEC Birmingham, 20/12/13

Let me put it this simply: Black Sabbath are the originals. They were the first, and are the best, heavy metal band. Often copied, never bettered, and in their 45th year, they proved once again, in their home town of Birmingham, that they blow away groups comprised of people young enough to be their grandchildren.

In the autumn of 2012, the fab four of original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward announced a reformation greeted with joy by fans worldwide. Sadly, Ward was not contracted further. The resultant album '13' is stunning, album of the year for 2013 by a distance, and created a record as its appearance at number 1 in the UK album charts came some 43 years after their last chart topper.
Following the album's release the band have been touring the world. Iommi is battling cancer and Osbourne forever battling his demons. On drums has been Tommy Clufetos, and, whilst we all miss Bill Ward, in my opinion this new guy is brilliant and I'm not sure Bill is up to the task.

Geezer and Tommy Clufetos

At a packed NEC, the guys had a magnificent homecoming. The sound was brilliant, the visuals stunning and all band members on great form. Iommi, the band's backbone, still brilliant, and Geezer's bass on NIB can still make you shiver.

Tony Iommi, the riffmaster

As for Ozzy, well is he the guy who got lucky? Perhaps. He met great musicians, married a woman who exploited his notoriety to make the couple a fortune, and he should really have been kicking up the daisies years ago. But, despite now being eligible for a bus pass, he looked great; amazing what Botox and surgery can do. In fairness, you can't help but like the old rogue, and, as his voice suits their early stuff so well,  Sabbath just aren't really Sabbath without him.

Geezer, Tommy Clufetos, Ozzy and Tony

With little doubt this was my gig of the year, well worth the round trip to Birmingham on a cold December Friday night. New songs sat comfortable alongside the old classics. That siren at the start of War Pigs is still frightening. Any downsides? Well, I can always do without a drum solo, and I'd like to have heard a full Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

The one and only Mr Osbourne
All in all, a great night with a full 2 hour set from one of the great bands of rock music. 

Ozzy and Tony, putting aside years of bad blood
Set List
War Pigs
Into The Void
Under The Sun
Age Of Reason
Black Sabbath
Behind The Wall Of Sleep
End Of The Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
Rat Salad
Iron Man
God Is Dead?
Dirty Women
Children Of The Grave
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (intro)

Many thanks to the irrepressible Steve Powis who took some great photographs in between trays of NEC lager.

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