2013 saw the return to Australian shores of the most influential heavy metal Band of all time, the mighty Black Sabbath. Your humble(?) scribe was there to witness their return.
Earth To Black Sabbath
Back in 1968, four young men from the industrial wasteland that was the city of Birmingham, England, got together and formed a band. Originally called Polka Tulk, they started playing blues based rock as a way to avoid becoming droids working their lives away in factories. Eventually they changed their name to Earth and rehearsed their sets during the day in a cinema, which by night showed horror films.
One day whilst leaving the cinema, they noticed the large crowds gathering outside to watch the film that was showing at the time. They realised that there was a large, and as yet untapped (from a musical perspective) market for scary entertainment. This inspired them to compose a “scary” Song, which they named after the film that was showing at the time, a 1963 movie starring Boris Karloff called Black Sabbath.
The first time they played it to an audience the reaction from the (probably stoned) audience showed them they were onto something. Shortly thereafter they discovered there was already a band called Earth who had released a record, so they changed their name again and settled on the name of the song that was gaining them a following around the UK club circuit.
Black Sabbath was born, and unknown to them, would have a huge impact on the music world that lasts to this day.
How Black Was My Sabbath
Back in the 1970’s as a teenager, I was attracted to the hard rock stylings of bands like Sweet, Slade and Kiss, but eventually they faded into irrelevance as the punk movement took the music industry by storm. I dabbled in Punk for a while, but was largely disappointed by the fact that most of them just couldn’t actually play, and seemed more concerned with the fashion (or anti-fashion if you like).
Around this time I used to listen to a radio station in Perth called 6KY. At the time it was the only station in Perth playing what is now known as Classic Rock. Each night I used to tape songs they played and managed to amass quite a collection of the best the 60’s and 70’s had to offer.
One night, unannounced they started playing a song which I instantly recognised as being by Black Sabbath. I was mostly unfamiliar with any of their music and considered it, at the time, to be too heavy for my tastes. The fact that I immediately knew the artist without knowing the song is a testament to the unique sound and style of the band.
The song they played was this one:
Having taped the song, I then listened to it over and over again, and became hooked. On a number of occasions I used to wag school and go into 78 Records, when it was located next door to His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth, and listen to the Paranoid Album. When I first started working the very first thing I bought with my first pay packet was this album, and subsequently the rest of their catalogue as well. I was now officially a “headbanger”. Most of you will remember that line from The Blues Brothers movie, “Around here we like both kinds of music, Country and Western”. I also liked both kinds of music, Heavy and Metal :wink:. I remained like this until about 1983 when Heavy Metal was taken over by “Hair-Metal” bands such as Motley Crue and their ilk. At this point I moved on to the form of music I still prefer to this day, Progressive Rock. Despite this, I maintained a soft spot for The Sabs. I was therefore excited when I found out that the original line-up was touring Australia this year, and having nothing better to do, as well as the wherewithal, I decided to go on tour with them.
No Sleep ‘Til Perth
Since the playlist was exactly the same in each city, I won’t bore you with a review of each show. The one in Perth was actually the best anyway. Also nothing of any note happened on my travels, apart with catching up with a former colleague in Brisbane, and missing an old mate on the way to Sydney (looking at you Jeffo), the actual traveling bit was as dreary as you might imagine. Airports, bus depots, train stations and the like. This Rock N Roll business ain’t as glamourous as its made out to be.
Anyway, on to the show at Perth Arena on May 4th.
Even a brief glimpse of the crowd confirmed that this was a truly all-ages audience. From people who were far older than even me, through to those who looked like they were still in high school. This was testament to a band that have withstood the test of time, despite having been written off by critics throughout their career.
On with the show. Opening with a blast of air raid sirens, the band launched into the classic anti-war anthem War Pigs. The crowd rose as one to welcome them and were singing along to every word, including the “Oh, Lord yeah” wail. From there the momentum continued with Into The Void from Master Of Reality, then Under The Sun and Snowblind from the Volume 4 album.
Then it was time for the song that started it all off, the mighty Black Sabbath itself. Once again, the crowd were singing along with Ozzy, despite a lot of them not even being a twinkle in their parents eyes at the time the song was released.
When that was over I noticed in the mosh-pit that quite a few joints were being lit and passed around the crowd in there. It would’ve been serendipitous if the band had launched into their paean to pot, Sweet Leaf. It wasn’t to be however. Instead we got Behind The Wall Of Sleep from their first album, followed by the acid trip that is Fairies Wear Boots from Paranoid, and then into an instrumental version of Symptom Of the Universe from Sabotage which led into what is usually the bane of any live show, the drum solo.
Despite the original announcement of the original line up doing the tour, for reasons which remain murky, drummer Bill Ward decided to withdraw from the tour and the new album due out in June. The drum stool was instead filled by Tommy Clufetos who also plays in Ozzy’s touring band. Whereas it would’ve been great to see Bill behind the kit (in my opinion he is the most under-rated drummer of all time, and was just as much a part of the Sabbath sound as Iommi’s guitar sound and Ozzy’s banshee like wailings), Clufetus did a great impersonation of him. If you shut your eyes you’d be hard pressed to tell that it wasn’t actually Ward himself playing. Anyway, his solo spot was actually quite good, mainly due to the sheer physicality with which he attacked his kit, and was well received by the crowd.
After that, the familiar doom-laden riff of Iron Man once again brought the crowd to its feet and began singing along with Ozzy. After that it was on to new song God Is Dead?
Probably due to being unfamiliar with the song, for the first time in the show, the crowd were somewhat subdued. Nevertheless, in the future this will become one of the highlights of a Sabbath show and bodes well for the upcoming “13” album.
After that they played Dirty Women from Technical Ecstacy during which some of the women in the audience took it upon themselves to flash their breasts at anyone who cared to look, and because the act was caught on camera and shown on the screen behind the band, that meant everyone. Earlier in the set (can’t remember which song), one enterprising gal threw her bra at Ozzy who proceeded to wear the garment as a badge of honour, or perhaps dishonour :wink:. I can only assume that she was also one of the gals who exposed themselves during Dirty Women.
Anyway, back to the music. After that the show was wrapped up by a rip-roaring version of the classic Children Of The Grave from Master Of Reality.
The crowd then demanded their return, and the band obliged with the introduction to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath which segued into the legendary Paranoid, a song which has been in the UK Top 20 singles twice (#4 in 1970 and #14 in 1980). This is their signature song, and its appeal goes way beyond the Heavy Metal genre, It is highly rated by punks and goths, general rock fans, as well as headbangers. All of these sub-cultures were in attendance at the concerts as well.
Before the tour began, I had a certain amount of trepidation about how the shows would go. Would Ozzy, since falling off the wagon, be a gibbering mess? Would the absence of Bill Ward be noticeable? Are they simply too old to cut it on stage anymore?
Having attended the shows, I can state with complete confidence, the answer to these questions is a resounding NO!
Ozzy has never been in better voice, and can still get the crowd to “go fucking crazy”. As already mentioned, Ward’s absence wasn’t even noticed, and Iommi and Butler can still cut it. Age has not wearied them (yet).
Can’t wait for the new album to become available.
This article was copied form The Daily Derp on 19 May, 2016 at 20:32. You can read the original article here: Their Satanic Majesties Return