8/7: BLACK SABBATH IN NJ REVIEW
Went to see Black Sabbath this past Sunday in NJ. I thought the band sounded great. As you guys know by now I have no problem calling it as I honestly see it, and I was very impressed with the performance these guys turned in at this stage of their career. Tony looked and sounded great and Geezer remains the king of metal bass players. Obviously there is only one Bill Ward, and it would have been great to see him play to make this a true reunion, but I must say Tommy Clufetos was a beast in his place. The guy is fun to watch play and hits like a monster. Ozzy is always the variable when it comes to live performance. During the 20 years after he first announced a retirement his solo career and live ability has been up and down, and by many accounts not always real with obvious “assistance” at times. Sabbath themselves, while working with Dio as Heaven & Hell, often said that band existed because Ozzy could no longer sing many of the Sabbath classics. But in my view Ozzy sounded better than he has in years, and from my estimation was 100% live. He fronted the band in classic Ozzy fashion and sure he had some off notes, but way better than most of the recent times I have heard him. It seems the band tuning down and him finding a register he can deal with has helped. He did seem to get a bit winded toward the end of the nearly 2 hour set, but given his age it’s understandable. The NY Post ran a headline that said “Ozzy is awful” after the show. Clearly they didn’t see Ozzy on some of the last few solo tours. I found his performance to be solid all things considered. The set list featured the usual hits, a few new tunes, and some deep track. The opened with “War Pigs”, closed with “Paranoid”. The song “Black Sabbath” was in the set and in my view should have opened the show. Nothing cooler than that to start. The strangest choice in the set was the inclusion of a new song only on the special edition of 13?! It’s hard enough to get new stuff over for classic bands, but a song on a version of the album most don’t have (not even me!)? Weird choice. The other thing I noticed was the venue was packed! I mean full on sell out of the seats and lawn. With many bands struggling to draw Sabbath was smart making this NJ show it’s, only area appearance and not over playing the area. I nice Sunday night and people came from all over and jammed the place. For all that was made of Bill Ward not being on board, the truth is it hasn’t seemed to stop one person from going to the show. That’s not meant as a knock on Bill, again, would have LOVED to see him with them, but when power plays over business go down with bands it all comes down to “will this guy not being there hurt the draw”. And sadly for Bill it clearly hasn’t with sell out shows and a #1 album. Business is business. I also couldn’t help to think of the late great Ronnie James Dio watching Geezer and Tony play. This was the first time I saw them without RJD in a number of years. Having been very involved in working with those guys with the launch of Heaven & Hell on the media side in TV and radio it was the first time seeing them play without him in a long time. I love BOTH versions of Sabbath, but it still hit me while watching that tragically we will never hear that band play Dio era material again. I would suggest seeing this show if you can. These are the founding fathers of metal still bringing it, and you never know how much more is left in the tank at this stage. But I was very impressed all the way around.
Also a quick note of thanks to my friends Officer Wayne, Detective Sean, and Theresa for the ticket. As you know because of the extremely warped issues Sharon Osbourne has with me (even though I don’t know her!) I seem to become toxic around anyone having anything to do with Sabbath when Ozzy is in the band (all the positives like this review of course never go acknowledged). As a result, I assume for giving honest opinions, I don’t get interviews with Ozzy and not invited to Sabbath activities when he is in the band. He has never been on TMS even though he watches and loves it from MANY sources. But I wasn’t going to let such silliness stop me from seeing a band I love and giving an accurate review in my opinion. My friends got me a ticket and we went to the show and had a blast! So thanks to them. And I’ll continue to speak my mind, good, bad or otherwise regardless of childish reactions from some.
PS: MOST important Tony Iommi looked to be in good health and played great!