With the release of 13 in 2013, the first album of all new material with Ozzy on vocals since the Never Say Die album in 1978 when Ozzy was fired from the band, Ozzy and Black Sabbath decided to do a tour to promote the album. The strategy paid off as the album went to #1 (their first ever #1 in North America) in 13 countries, and won a grammy in January for Best Metal Performance with the song, ‘God Is Dead?’.
The last grammy they won in 2000 was also for Best Metal Performance of their classic hit ‘Iron Man’ (originally recorded on their second album Paranoid in 1970), which was on their live Reunion album (which also featured two new original tracks).
After Ozzy left Sabbath in the late 70’s, the band carried on and recruited Ronnie James Dio on vocals, while Ozzy (with much thanks to partner Sharon who pulled him out of his self destructive habits) launched a very successful solo career.
Black Sabbath went through quite a few changes, but in 1998 they got back together with Ozzy and embarked on a European tour. Drummer Bill Ward suffered a heart attack at the beginning of the tour and Vinnie Appice was brought in as a replacement. When they were ready to tour the US as part of Ozzfest in January of 1999, Ward was well enough to rejoin.
I was fortunate enough to see the show in Vancouver and it was pretty amazing although Ozzy didn’t seem to have a lot of energy for those shows.
Last night’s performance started off with air raid sirens for the band’s anti-war anthem ‘War Pigs’ with Ozzy singing the first and third lines and the audience singing the second and fourth lines. This was the first of five tunes from the Paranoid album.
Then Ozzy asked us “How do you feel?” The general consensus was that we were feeling pretty darn good and very excited to have three-quarters of the original Black Sabbath playing their music for us.
Bill Ward wasn’t with the band due to contract hassles. His drum stool was occupied by Tommy Clufetos who has played with Ozzy since 2010. Clufetos seemed to have a good grasp of the sticks as he pounded his way through the classic Sabbath tunes. He’s also played with Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent.
Next up was ‘Into the Void’ from the 1971 album Master of Reality. Then two tracks from Black Sabbath Vol. 4 — ‘Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes’ and ‘Snowblind’, that song about cocaine which prompted Ozzy to ask, “Does anybody do that anymore?” Thank goodness Ozzy stopped that nonsense years ago otherwise he probably wouldn’t have survived long.
Some pretty interesting visuals were projected onto the screen behind the band along with the typical shots of the separate band members appearing larger than life and all the guitar players in the audience paying close attention to Tony Iommi’s chord progressions on his blistering solos.
‘Age of Reason’ was the first new song of the evening with “…the protocols of evil ravaging so many lives…” ending with the lines “…politics, religion, love of money too. It’s what the world was built for, but not for me and you.”
Tony Iommi’s guitar riffs were remarkable. A storm then erupted with the thunder, lightning and rain at the opening of the title track from their debut 1970 album Black Sabbath with Ozzy’s evil laugh in the middle of the track.
‘Bassically’ (Geezer’s wonderfully fluid bass solo) was sandwiched between ‘Behind the Wall of Sleep’ and ‘N.I.B.’ also from that debut album with the spooky cover. Quite the musical journey on that album.
Another new song, the paradoxical ‘End or the Beginning’ which has Ozzy wondering “Is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?” Good question.
Fairies Wear Boots’ and ‘Rat Salad’ with a snippet of ‘Supernaut’ preceded Tommy Clufetos’ drum solo after which Ozzy echoed the robotic voice of ‘Iron Man.’ Always a crowd pleaser.
‘God Is Dead?’, third and last song from the latest album, seemed to be about Ozzy doing a bit of soul searching. He saw the title in a newspaper and started thinking about it and came up with some lyrics; then Geezer Butler (who Ozzy says is the main lyricist) filled in the blanks.
German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche actually first asked this question in 1882. By the end of the song Ozzy sings “I don’t believe God is dead.” Quite profound coming from the man known as the prince of darkness, but when you analyze a lot of the classic Sabbath tunes most of them are actually acknowledging God.
‘Dirty Women’ from Technical Ecstasy was the next number in the whole sex and drugs and rock’n’roll equation that was so prevalent in the ’60’s and ’70’s. It’s a song about a person wandering the streets looking for a lady of the night who will “…make everything alright.” Probably not. Iommi made some interesting little changes in this song.
Last song before the encore was Masters of Reality‘s ‘Children of the Grave’ which, contrary to it’s grim title, is actually a song of love and hope.
For the encore, they pulled out the old standard, Ozzy’s anthem, ‘Paranoid’ which prompted almost everyone in the near sold out building to get up onto their feet. (Even the folks way up in the nosebleed sections, who usually don’t get up, were up off their seats).
The band teased us though, at the beginning of ‘Paranoid’ with Tony Iommi playing a few bars of ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’. Darn, I wish they would have played that one. Nothing from that masterpiece Sabotage either. Well maybe next time, and maybe they will bring Bill Ward along too. We can only hope.
Ozzy Osbourne isn’t as young as he used to be but he’s still able to belt out the tunes. He certainly knows how to get the crowd going, but I think he may be going deaf. He kept on saying to the audience, “I can’t hear you.” That’s just my joke, of course, as he’s been saying that to his audiences for years because he knows they love him and he loves them back.
Indeed, it was Ozzy who led the chant before the encore of, “One more song. One more song!” A full two hours of the Sabbath of the Seventies with a few new ones thrown in for good measure.
Opening band ReignWolf was a three piece fronted by Saskatoon native, guitarist Jordan Cook, who Jeff Healey called “the finest player in the world today.” They delivered a fine set of music, although the sound mix was horrible. The rhythm section actually left Jordan on his own for a bit, and as he was wildly soloing away, he walked over to the drum set and started playing them while still wailing on his guitar. Jordan Cook was the first Canadian rock artist to tour China and has made guest appearances with B.B King and Van Morrison.
Into the Void
Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes
Age of Reason
Behind the Wall of Sleep
End of the Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
(with “Supernaut” instrumental and Drum Solo)
God Is Dead?
Children of the Grave
(with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” intro)