BLACK SABBATH – London – The O2 Arena
The almighty roar of the pioneering and legendary Black Sabbath filled the O2 Arena in London with otherworldly joy the other night and left an everlasting impression on me. There is no way for me to sum up what this band and all its different eras mean to me on a personal level. Black Sabbath has been one of the few constant things in my life and a pillar of support on so many levels. Needless to say, we could not let the opportunity to witness the band perform on their short run of 2017 "The End" dates pass us by, so on Sunday the 29th of January we entered a packed O2 Arena in London for what turned out to be one of the most memorable and brilliant shows that I have been lucky enough to witness. There is very little point in touching on the band’s inhumanly awesome discography or how and why they remain a constant source of inspiration to so many bands and artists out there. Black Sabbath is the real deal. Nothing even comes close to this living, breathing entity that has been out there for nearly fifty years now.
Rival Sons were the opening act and they did a stellar job. Such a tight and excellent band all around. Great melodies, lots of awesome hooks, top-notch musicianship, and brilliant vocals on top of it all. Their mateial sounded excellent and was both hypnotic and mesmerizing in places. There is something about the band’s unique and original blend of hard-edged blues rock and classic rock ala Led Zeppelin, Free, Bad Company, and The Animals that totally works for me. The band was on stage for approximately forty minutes and definitely got the job done.
The O2 went dark at 8.15 PM and an overwhelmingly cool and crushing visual introduction to what we were about to experience kicked into gear. Suddenly, the opening notes to the immortal title track of the debut album filled the arena and there they were, live and in the flesh, the greatest band on the face of this bleak planet. The unholy trinity of Butler, Iommi, and Osbourne together on stage defies description. As my wife rightfully pointed out, it was so tight that it felt downright surreal in places, almost as if you were watching super-humans at work. You cannot out-heavy Black Sabbath, damn it! Launching the show with that particular musical gem totally set the tone and mood for what was to follow. "Fairies Wear Boots", "Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes", "After Forever", "Into the Void", "Snowblind", and one of the best renditions of "War Pigs" that you can possibly imagine left me in tears. Tears of joy, I might add. Rarely has "War Pigs" that tune sounded more monumental and bombastic than it did on this particular night. Adam Wakeman’s keyboard parts in "Snowblind" made the hair on my arms stand up. One of my absolute favorites in the shape of "Behind the Wall of Sleep" was aired, too. "N.I.B." never fails to get the crowd going and the wicked medley of "Rat Salad", "Supernaut", and an entertaining drum solo courtesy of Clufetos worked like a charm before the band launched into "Iron Man". Next came two of the highlights of the evening, namely "Dirty Women" and "Children of the Grave". Not surprisingly, "Paranoid" closed the show. Using "Zeitgeist" as the outro-tape was extremely fitting and almost strangely prophetic in a sense. There was a tinge of melancholy to the thought that this would be my last time watching Black Sabbath perform, but on the other hand, there is something beautiful about them calling it quits now following a nearly fifty-year long career. They still have what it takes and they can still deliver, so why not go out on top? Anyway, I could not help feeling somewhat nostalgic and sentimental as I watched the band leave the stage.
The whole experience of watching Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Wakeman, and Tommy Clufetos perform together was captivating and compelling. Every sense was alert. Nothing was taken for granted. Every frigging second was absorbed and dissected. It was uplifting and gloomy. It was sinister and wonderful. It was beyond what a mere mortal such as I can sum up in just a few sentences, so allow me to wrap this little review of mine up here and simply state "THANK YOU" to each member of the band for giving us something that we will love and cherish forever. You truly are the best – you always have been and you always will be!