Black Sabbath Concert Review, Austin, TX 7/27/2013
I’ve been a fan of Black Sabbath since the mid-70s when one of my my older brothers, Robert (RIP), brought home Paranoid. Somewhere around 78 or 79 he gave me their debut album for Christmas and it was one of the first pieces of vinyl that I ever owned. I’ve spoken many times before about his influence on me musically and and his love for Sabbath was certainly passed on to me. I f’n LOVE Sabbath…Ozzy, Dio, Gillan and Martin eras. But my love for them doesn’t give them a pass. In fact, it may make me more critical.
I’d never seen Sabbath (by name) but I did see Heaven & Hell twice. I saw Ozzy live in 1988 and to be honest he was horrible. At that point he was a shell of his former self. Last night I would have called him a shell of a shell of his former self.
Lots of cards were in play with the recent Sabbath reunion. No Bill Ward on the album because of a contract dispute (read: $$ and Sharon). Iommi’s lymphoma which was caught early but is still being treated for every 6 weeks. No Ward on the tour. A new album that I think is boring, autotuned vocally and severely over-processed. Bill couldn’t have saved the album.
Sabbath opened the recent leg of the tour in Houston the night before and the reviews of Ozzy were pretty awful.
The show was opened with Andrew WK doing a DJ of the same songs that most venues would have played prior to a concert…DIO, Slayer, AC/DC etc. Sharon must have gotten him on the cheap! I would have preferred an opening band.
Sabbath opened up with War Pigs then went into Into the Void(!). By the second song Ozzy had pulled out his inner ear monitors. He was motioning during War Pigs that his inner ear sound was jacked up. The band sounded great the whole show. Tony and Geezer were just incredible to watch and listen to. Touring drummer Tommy Clufetos (Alice Cooper, John 5, Ted Nugent) did a fine job on everything except for the song Black Sabbath. He played most of the songs pretty spot on but was doing something weird on that one that just didn’t seem to work. He also did a drum solo and even as me being a drummer (retired), I really don’t like most drum solos, especially from metal bands. But Ozzy said it best last night, “Rat Salad…I need to take a fucking break!” So I can easily see why there was a solo. Ozzy looked worn out. Metal band drum solos are typically just a bunch of double bass, quads and triplets. zzzz. I’d prefer to not have a solo or to watch one where a drummer is showing me their chops. But that’s just my opinion. The crowd loved it and that’s what mattered. And let’s be honest here, does anyone think Ward would have been good live at this point? From what I have seen on Youtube and read in reviews of the reunion tour, dude had a tough enough time keeping up as it was.
I will say that I thought Ozzy was better than I expected him to be, but he wasn’t great by any means. Strapped to his teleprompter, still not getting words right (same in 88 actually) and being flat for a majority of the show. Sure his drug use is that of legend and in general the guy probably doesn’t know where he is half of the time. His wife, who did save his life, seems to be money hungry and continues to prop him up like a puppet.
He sounded best on God Is Dead? and the other new songs which makes sense as they were written more about how he is able to sing now. I was happy to see Dirty Women in the set, unfortunately he couldn’t keep up in it. Snowblind was another highlight.
I know my opinion on this is a minority opinion, but I’d respect Ozzy more if he’d just say, “That’s all, folks. I just can’t do it any more.” I have a list of performers that fall into that category for me.
But all the above taken into account, I had a really good time and have zero regrets about going or about the high ticket price ($115+fees). I felt it was the last time I’d have a chance to see Iommi and watching Geezer is always a treat. He’s still a beast on the bass. And Ozzy sounded better than what I had expected, so there’s that.
I did hear someone say before the show that they loved “Tommy Iommi.” That one always cracks me up.
As we were walking out after Children of the Grave (Yes, I left before the Paranoid encore), I heard Ozzy say, “Thank you, Houston!” He must have walked away from his teleprompter again.
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