Black Sabbath Sheffield Arena 14th December 2013
Last night I went with my mate Norm to see those mighty metal pioneers Black Sabbath in concert at Sheffield Arena. Its been over 30 years since we both last saw Sabbath, so we were really looking forward to revisiting our youth and reminding ourselves who the true gods of metal are, and where it all started. We left around 4pm and drove down to Sheffield arriving just after 6pm. There was time for a bite to eat at one of the pubs over the road from the arena, before we walked over to the Arena to have a look at the merchandise (nice, but pricey, so we passed) and catch the support act, who were a young new UK band called Uncle Acid and the Dead Beats. Uncle Acid and the Dead Beats have been described as “the original Alice Cooper band jamming in a cell with early Black Sabbath and the Stooges” (Metal Blade Records), and that sums them up pretty well. Their heavy, dark riffs filled the hall, are very reminiscent of early Sabbath, and prepared the crowd for the main act. The crowd was a mix of heavy rock and metal fans of all ages; old-timers like us, and young metalheads, everyones knows how important Sabbath are in the history of heavy metal and classic rock. Right on time at 8.30pm, Black Sabbath took to the stage. We had standing tickets and made our way as close to the front as we could get. We knew what to expect, Norm has been watching a DVD of Sabbath on tour in Australia earlier this year, so we were anticipating a set full of classics. And that’s exactly what we got; Ozzy and the guys took us right back to their first album, and played all those great 70s metal anthems, with a few songs thrown in from their new album “13”. The packed arena was up and ready for a night of classic heavy metal. From the first chords of opening song “War Pigs”, everyone had their hands in the air, waving back at Ozzy who goaded us to “Go F***ing Crazy!”. The sound was clear, loud and crisp, and the playing excellent; all four band members were rocking, giving it full throttle and volume throughout the entire set. These guys invented heavy metal, and it still doesn’t get much better. I feared that they might not be able to cut it anymore, but last night they delivered 100% and then some. Ozzy looked pretty fit, and his voice was in much better shape that I had hoped or imagined. The guy still has stamina and kept a crazy pace going all night. Tony Iommi’s guitar playing switched between exquisite dark, doomy riffs and impressive solos, and Geezer Butler stood solid, pounding thunderous classic metal rhythms from his bass. Its sad that Bill Ward isn’t with them on the tour, but explosive new dynamo drummer Tommy Clufetos, who comes from Ozzy’s band, did an excellent job, full of energy and power. The stage set was impressive with large screens showing a mix of live video of the band, and images of darkness, doom, war, and blasphemy underlining that we were witnessing the classic dark heavy metal band. The show was almost exactly tow hours, and included “Snowblind”, “Black Sabbath”, “N.I.B.”, “Fairies Wear Boots” and “Iron Man”. The encore just had to be “Paranoid”. Stunning, powerful stuff. Sabbath showed us just what heavy metal is and can be, and for me last night they reclaimed their crown as the hardest, darkest rock band on the planet. Sometimes the old guys are still the best, and can still deliver.
Setlist: War Pigs; Into the Void; Under the Sun / Every Day Comes and Goes; Snowblind; Age of Reason; Black Sabbath; Behind the Wall of Sleep; N.I.B.; End of the Beginning; Fairies Wear Boots; Rat Salad/Drum Solo; Iron Man; God Is Dead?; Dirty Women; Children of the Grave. Encore: Paranoid.
We left the Motorpoint Arena at 10.30, drove up the MI, A1 and the A19 and were back home safe just before 12.30am, ours ears still ringing; and thoughts of a classic rock band running through our heads, some 40+ years since we first saw and heard them. It just don’t get any better.
Archive for the ‘Black Sabbath’ Category
Black Sabbath Sheffield Arena 14th December 2013
Black Sabbath Newcastle City Hall January 1982
The last time I saw Black Sabbath was in 1982 on the Mob Rules tour. From this point on, the Sabbath line up went into a period of constant change, and I lost track, and to some extent lost faith in them. I went to see Ozzy several times and switched my allegiance to him, catching shows at The City Hall, The Mayfair and Donington. But it is some years since I saw Ozzy as well. The Mob Rules show was OK as far as I can recall, but to honest I remember little about it. By this time, the line up consisted of Ronnie James Dio on vocal and Vinny Appice on drums, with only Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler from the original band. Black Sabbath remained incredibly popular, however, and the tour sold out three nights at the City Hall and called at large venues across the UK. Typical set list from the Mob Rules tour: E5150; Neon Knights; NIB; Children of the Sea; Turn up the Night; Black Sabbath; War Pigs; Slipping Away; Iron Man; Mob Rules; Heaven and Hell; Paranoid; Children of the Grave. I am very tempted to go to Download at Donington this year to see Black Sabbath again. It would be good to see them once more. I must admit I’m not big on festivals these days, so I’ll ponder on that and will, of course, blog on it if I do go.
Black Sabbath Newcastle City Hall Heaven and Hell tour 1980
And so it came to pass that the unthinkable happened and Ozzy left his Black Sabbath mates, to be replaced by one Ronnie James Dio. This seemed a strange pairing at first, but one which became more believable as time went on. Ronnie was of course known to me. I had seen him in Elf, when they supported Deep Purple on the Burn tour and Johnny Winter (thanks to John for reminding me of this), and a numbers of times in Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. The change in line up didn’t seem to affect. Sabbath’s popularity. Indeed they were a popular as ever, with the tour selling out and featuring multiple nights at several venues, including Newcastle. So I went along with a group of mates to see this new Sabbath. Often when a band changes line up in this way, they come back stronger than ever. There are several reasons for this in my view. They have something to prove, the new member brings new energy, and the need for rehearsals also strengthens the band. I had seen this before. Deep Purple came back stronger than ever with David Coverdale on the Burn tour, and Genesis did the same, but in a different way, on the Trick of the Tale tour. And so it was with Sabbath. The Newcastle show was just great. We were right down the front, in the middle in front of the band, and Ronnie fitted in very well, much much better that I guessed. His small elf like frame added a new dimension t the stage show, and his devil horns two finger salute, was annoying, but it worked! I even did it back to him! The set was a mixture of tracks from the new Heaven and Hell album and old Sabbath classics. So far so good, we still had Sabbath to go and see, and also the promise of Ozzy and Blizzard of Oz shows (which were also great). Typical set list from the 1980 tour: War Pigs; Neon Knights; N.I.B.; Lonely Is The Word; Sweet Leaf ; Children Of The Sea; Black Sabbath; Heaven And Hell; Iron Man; Sabbath Bloody Sabbath; Orchid; Die Young; Paranoid; Children Of The Grave; Lonely Is The Word
Black Sabbath and Van Halen Newcastle City Hall 1978
The Black Sabbath 1978 UK tour was memorable for one reason in particular. The support act on the tour was none other than (relatively) new American band Van Halen. Van Halen has just released their first album and were hot. Their debut album sold over ten million copies in the US alone and is still one of the most successful debuts by a rock band. It features such classic track as Runnin’ with the Devil; Eruption, and their tremendous version of the Kinks’ You Really Got Me. Sabbath, on the other hand, had just released Never Say Die, which was to the last studio album featuring Ozzy. On the night Van Halen were simply stunning. Don’t get me wrong, I went with a group of mates and we all still enjoyed seeing Sabbath, but Van Halen were new, hungry and totally on the money. Sabbath, on the other hand, seemed to be in a routine, and Ozzy wasn’t the same strong, wild front man that he had been a few years earlier. I guess the excesses were starting to take their toll. I was chatting with my mate Norm about the gig the other night, and he agreed that Van Halen blew Sabbath off stage that night, and felt that they were much better than when they returned a year or so later to headline their own tour. This was the last time I was to see Sabbath with Ozzy, and at the time couldn’t imagine how they could possibly continue without their front man. However, a couple of years later they did return with a new singer, and actually they were pretty good. Typical setlist from the 1978 tour: Symptom of the Universe; War Pigs; Never Say Die; Dirty Women; Rock & Roll Doctor; Electric Funeral; Embryo / Children of the Grave; Paranoid; Snowblind; Black Sabbath; Sabbath Bloody Sabbath; Iron Man; Fairies Wear Boots; Hand of Doom; N.I.B.; Gypsy
Black Sabbath Newcastle City Hall March 1977
The 1977 Black Sabbath tour was to promote their new album Technical Ecstasy. This album took them further away from the darkness and simplicity of their earlier work, incorporated more keyboards and some more straight forward rock n roll. There are no real Sabbath classics on the album, however their concert set consisted of many of the old favourites. As a result this was still a great Sabbath gig. Support came from Nutz. However if some ways Sabbath were slowly becoming a more straight rock band, and had lost a little of the darkness and rawness that I saw a few years earlier. Don’t get me wrong these gigs were still great, but things were clearly not 100% in the Sabbath camp as Ozzy left for a brief period around this time, and was to leave for a much longer period soon. A typical set list from this period was: Symptom of the Universe; Snowblind; All Moving Parts (Stand Still); War Pigs; Gypsy; Black Sabbath; Dirty Women; Rock & Roll Doctor; Electric Funeral; Iron Man; Embryo / Children of the Grave; Paranoid; N.I.B.
Black Sabbath Newcastle City Hall October 1975
Its easy to underestimate, or even forget, the influence of Black Sabbath and how important they are in the history of rock. Seeing Sabbath in the 70s was something special. There’s was a brand of rock which was truly dark, heavy and compelling. They are without doubt in my mind THE pioneers of heavy metal. On one level their imagery, lyrics and stance are simple, and yet on another level what they did at the time was innovative and pretty revolutionary. I certainly approached a Sabbath concert with a lot more excitement than I do most concerts these days. Maybe that was something about my age and the times we were living in, but much of it was also about the energy, vision and purity of the Sabbath music, brand and image. Black Sabbath were back in Newcastle at the City Hall in 1975, promoting the Sabotage album, and I was there ot see them with a group of mates. All of the Black Sabbath shows I attended in those days were great. I was much more a Tony Iommi man than an Ozzy fan and would carefully study his playing to see if I could pick up any tips. New favourites coming into the set in 1975 were Hole in the Sky and Symptom of the Universe, and old favourites such as Paranoid, Iron Man, Children of the Grave and Black Sabbath remained from earlier albums. Support on this our came from Brum band Bandy Legs who were to morph into Quartz when the New Wave of British Heavy Metal dawned a few years later. Typical set list from 1975: Hole in the Sky; Snowblind; Symptom of the Universe; War Pigs; Megalomania; Supernaut; Iron Man; Rock & Roll Doctor; Black Sabbath; Spiral Architect; Embryo / Children of the Grave; Paranoid; Killing Yourself to Live; Sabbra Cadabra
The second time I saw Black Sabbath was at Newcastle Odeon in December 1973. This was the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath tour and Newcastle was the first night of the tour. Newcastle Odeon is a bigger venue than the City Hall. I went along with a friend and we obviously bought tickets late as our seats were at the back of the (very large circle). I can remember looking down on some quite small dots, and the sound not being so great. Sabbath put on a great show that night, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as my first Sabbath experience, largely because of where we were sitting. I remember being quite excited at seeing the band this time, and my mate and I dressed specially for the gig, bit of us all in black. I also bought a large black cross to wear around my neck for this special occasion! Typical set list from the tour: Tomorrow’s Dream; Sweet Leaf; Killing Yourself to Live; Snowblind; War Pigs; A National Acrobat; Cornucopia; Sabbra Cadabra; Supernaut; Iron Man; Black Sabbath; Embryo / Children of the Grave; Paranoid; Megalomania. Many thanks to John for the poster scan.