Black Sabbath - The End
Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today, To see this thing called Black Sabbath.
Metal inventors Sabbath, we thought you would last forever, and that’s a mighty long time… *
Words: Anthony Firmin
The Sabs have been a personal journey for 40 years. A used Sabbotage LP, purchased for 99p, opened the door to a love affair that was torturous at times (Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes and Tony Martin et al). The first time I saw them at the Apollo in ’78 they were literally blown of stage by a young and hungry support band called Van Halen. Yet once again I find myself at the Church of Sabbath.
Although personally chosen by Ozzy to open every show on ‘The End’ tour, Rival Sons seem an odd choice. I could come up with at least a dozen bands who would be a better fit and judging by the comments of others here, and the general reaction they received, I am not alone in this view. And to be fair some think they are the best band on the night but they are not my cup of tea.
The anticipation for Ozzy and Co. is immense and opening with Black Sabbath is a masterstroke. Slow and doomy it should set the scene for the whole show as it did 47 years ago when the debut album was released. However…
As the show progresses I start having a feeling of déjà vu – the set list is almost identical to when they played here at the end of 2013 with the early order juggled around a bit. And the set has some gapping holes – there is no Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Supernaut (apart from a couple of bars of each, teasing us), there is no Symptom Of The Universe or The Wizard, and there is no Never Say Die which could have been another masterstroke as part of the encore.
And Ozzy doesn’t seem the same either, coming across a little subdued; the buckets of water he pours over himself remaining by the base of the drum riser. And as much as he is a cultural icon, he now comes across as a sad figure shuffling around the stage bent over or using the mic stand as a zimmer frame whilst he reads the essential autocue.
Just as it was in 2013, the performance is solid, polished and professional, even within its zimmer frame like predictability. Unsurprisingly there is a far too long drum solo from Tommy Clofetus but it gave quite a few the chance of a toilet break. The last four songs is a facsimile of 2013 – Children Of The Grave being the highlight of the evening and the essential encore of Paranoid getting everyone up on their feet.
How Black was my Sabbath? Sort of grey, it could have been so much Blacker.
* Lyrics butchered from Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’