September 4, 2013
by Ray Rocha, editor
Yes, you read that right: Black Sabbath in Concert! Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne, and newcomer, Tommy Clufetos ran through a blistering set of new and classic Black Sabbath tunes.
The show started ominously, with Andrew WK doing his best to spin some current and classic metal. The DJ concept as an opener is not new – Rammstein, among others, has done it. What was bothersome was that the sound quality, for whatever reason, didn’t quite hit the mark. More than one audience member was heard grumbling about it, saying that Sabbath had “better not sound like this”. After the DJ set concluded, and after what seemed like barely 30 seconds, Black Sabbath hit the stage. They started with War Pigs, and with red lights and air raid siren blaring, the curtain dropped and the first notes were heard. It was sheer power, and the audio mix couldn’t have been better. Tommy Clufetos is the real deal. What was most refreshing was his ability to leave space within the beat to let the songs breathe. I felt the hair on my arms stand straight up all through War Pigs. In fact, the audience singing along towards the end of the song was deafening.
The set included songs off the new album (produced by Rick Rubin, and which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart when released in June), and of course, the classics. Both the old and new songs melded seamlessly throughout the show.
Black Sabbath played 16 songs in their set, and they are, in order: 1. War Pigs 2. Into the Void 3. Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes 4. Snowblind 5. Age of Reason 6. Black Sabbath 7. Behind the Wall of Sleep 8. N.I.B. (Preceded by Geezer Butler bass solo) 9. End of the Beginning 10. Fairies Wear Boots 11. Rat Salad (followed by Tommy Clufetos Drum Solo) 12. Iron Man 13. God Is Dead 14. Dirty Women 15. Children of the Grave, and as an encore, Paranoid, with Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath intro into Zeitgeist.
Tony Iommi, who was diagnosed with early stage lymphoma in early 2012, was absolutely flawless while delivering all the great riffs we have heard so many times throughout the years. His guitar tone was amazingly huge. He moved around and looked very comfortable and happy. He has always had an understated stage demeaner, and on this night, he played his ass off.
While watching YouTube videos of Black Sabbath, one can see the technique of bassist Geezer Butler, and analyze his rumbling and busy right hand movements. No one plays bass like Geezer; he laid down the thunder on this night. “Bassically”, his bass solo, was well received, and since we all new that “NIB” was next up, the place just went nuts.
If you have followed Ozzy Osbourne’s tabloid exploits, it could be easy to forget that he is the singer/front man for Black Sabbath. At 64, the ‘Ozzman’ is still a great front man, and although some of the notes and words were probably not as crisp as in the past, he delivered in spades. The crowd was “all in” with Ozzy’s cries for “Louder!”, and “I can’t fuckin’ hear you!”. Even the offbeat “Coo Coo” got a huge call and response.
As I stated at the beginning, Tommy Clufetos was a great fit. He is high energy, the songs flowed, and were on pace. It is easy to let some of the slower songs drag along and become boring. Tommy drove the Sabbath bus as it needed to be driven.
I am going to put the temperature of the L.A. Sports arena at about 90 or so degrees. That place was hot. Note to self: do not go to a Black Sabbath show to see hot chicks. The crowd was a male dominated, black t-shirt wearing group that was pumped up to see Black Sabbath. None of us were disappointed. Black Sabbath is alive and well.