Black Sabbath: 02 Academy Birmingham
Gig 26: 19 May 2012
So to start with, before tonight what did I know about Black Sabbath, well
1) a legendary name in Heavy Metal,
2) a Brummie band,
3) a cracking couple of tunes in War Pigs and Paranoid
4) the carnival that is Ozzy Ozbourne and
5) Tony Iommi who has a star on the Broad Street Walk of Fame and sliced his finger tips off the day he quit work to join the Sabs.
Why did I buy the ticket? well curiosity as this was Black Sabbath's first gig, homecoming gig, for umpteen years and Ozzy was back (although Drummer Bill Ward wasn't able to make the show due to contractual terms not being appropriate, and a youngster was drafted in, although I would have thought at his age this would have caused a coronary for Bill).
Having followed Ozzy's career on reality TV from a distance I was intrigued and was one of the lucky 3,000 to get a ticket. Arriving at the venue, you could see this was going to be a different affair from the normal at the Dome. For a start there was an official merchandise truck outside, doing reasonable business and the security to get in was tight, spread your arms please sir tight. I queued up and was thrown into the world of Wayne, party on!
On gaining entry to the gig it was great to see a rammed venue chock full of, well mainly old blokes in black T Shirts, more hair and beards than normally and a penchant for raising their hands in the air, pointing their index and little fingers in the air and shouting yeah. This behaviour was being instigated by the roadies who would do this on stage while black light shone around and classic metal tracks were fired off.
I wedged my way into the crowd, got as near the front as I dared (without a Black T Shirt) and sipped my cooking lager. Around me were some of the tallest blokes I have ever seen, Metal must attract giants, and virtually no ladies at all. Around half eight, as advertised the band came on (I was surprised as I would have put money on Ozzy not being organised from my preconceptions). He came out with proper Sabbath Hair, Black top with silver cross, flanked by 2 of the most dapper looking 60 year olds in Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler and the YTS lad bare chested on drums (I'm sure he is probably very well known, but he wasn't a pensioner so he's the YTS man).
Boom and the riffage starts with 'Into the void' and Ozzy is nothing like what I was expecting, he's not a shuffling around barely coherent brummie on reality TV, he is in fact a Metal God, head bowing forward and back with gusto throughout the set, screaming out the lyrics, running side to side arms outstretched with mad eyes and F'ing and blinding at every opportunity. The piece de resistance was however the use of the water at the back of the stage, I didn't notice how he got drenched going into the second song, but it was really effective, whipping around the rats tails of hair and throwing his arms in the air to fountains of spray, turns out he's got a bath back there. This was the most theatrical way of keeping cool that I think I have ever seen, and topped off with a few bottles thrown into the mosh pits coupled with roughly 2 bath fulls at different instances.
Riffage - I have never seen anything like Black Sabbath for it, the way the songs build on Iommi's brilliant guitar playing, explode mid way through the number at pace with a wall of drums bass and Ozz in support. Its not surprising that someone was holding up at every opportunity their 'I belong to Iommi' TShirt which Tony casually acknowledged with one of the coolest nods I have seen. In fact Tony was getting a lot of hero worship with football chanted 'Tony, Tony' ringing through the venue, if there ever was a better message to someone recovering from cancer that they are adored I would be surprised.
After getting on for 2 hours the band started winding down, they popped off stage and the drummer got the crowd going with a drum solo and 3 beat duet with the audience getting faster and faster before it erupted into another solo, just to prove he wasn't just here for the ride and had earned his place.
Ozzy then confessed we had one more song and if we went mental then they would come back for an encore, everyone went mental, particularly the little metaller beside me who was swinging his hair all over the place in brilliant moshing interspersed with fingers aloft guitar playing eyes closed.
They left the stage, and we were led in a chorus of one more song by Ozzy until they came out to start that final song, the first chunk of which left me a bit disappointed as it wasn't the start of Paranoid, conspicuously absent throughout the set, and then a change in riff and suddenly I jumped to the striking chords of Paranoid, and the set finished in blistering fashion. After that I wandered out, past the incredibly expensive black Tshirts and onto the street ears buzzing.
Good Gig then? yeah, bloody great gig and this morning I still had War Pigs going round and round my head, a phenomenal bloody gig. 5 Stars I would expect in the evening mail and no mistake.
Set List: Into The Void, Under The Sun, Snowblind, War Pigs, Wheels Of Confusion, Electric Funeral, Black Sabbath, The Wizard, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, N.I.B., Fairies Wear Boots, Tomorrow’s Dream, Sweet Leaf, Symptom Of The Universe (intro), Drum Solo, Iron Man, Dirty Women, Children Of The Grave, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (intro), Paranoid