Live Review: Black Sabbath in Uncasville, CT
Listening to each of the 18 Black Sabbath numbers -- as three of its four original members took the stage Thursday (8/8) at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena -- fans of the genre could easily extract many musical stylings that served as foundation blocks for thousands of heavy metal acts that have come along since.
Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and guitarist Tony Iommi, along with the perfectly matched drumming of Rob Zombie / Alice Cooper / Ozzy alum Tommy Clufetos, kept a multi-generational crowd virtually hypnotized with a retrospective of the band's career.
From their 1969 debut, devotees heard title track "Black Sabbath," "N.I.B." and the sinister "Behind the Wall of Sleep," featuring a brief but thundering bass solo from Butler. And from their sophomore effort, the only other charting Black Sabbath album until this year's "13," fans were obviously thrilled to hear "Paranoid," and "Iron Man."
Another number from "Paranoid," "Rat Salad," provided an entre to Clufetos' extended solo, showing off exactly why he was tapped to fill the seat of recently departed Bill Ward. Ward's self-styled estrangement from the band has played out embarrassingly in the music press as he widely complained about being offered an "unsignable" contract to record and tour with the band supporting "13."
Clufetos didn't exactly copy Ward's licks beat for beat, as much as he captured the spirit of each phase of the band's history represented in the live show. Relying almost exclusively on tom-tom heavy riffs, the much younger drummer kept pace admirably, maybe even injecting some added energy into the mix and invigorating his new bandmates.
The show opened with "War Pigs," with Ozzy leading a call and response through the first verse much to the delight of the willing crowd. And by the third song in, "Under the Sun / Every Day Comes and Goes," the boisterous front man had hit stride, nailing the vocal lines with exacting pitch and strong clear phrasing.
Butler nailed the bottom end throughout the two-hour-plus set, although he barely cracked a smile or showed any emotion whatsoever. So it was a real treat for folks close enough to see, as Ozzy joked and teased Iommi who burst out laughing on a couple of occasions, and was caught smiling frequently as he looked over at Osbourne's antics.
Iommi was nothing short of spectacular, mixing power chords with articulate, intense leads. But at the same time, he handled his guitar chores with an amazing sense of coolness.
Ozzy may be the lead singer, but it was clear that Iommi is Black Sabbath's conductor.
It appeared like Ozzy was attached to his microphone with an invisible bungee cord that did not allow him to venture far from center stage. And on the few occasions he ventured to the right or left wings to acknowledge the audience members seated there, he would quickly retract back to the spotlight.
At 64, Osbourne still exhibited great energy. He didn't manage any of his infamous froggy hops, but he was constantly urging the crowd to clap, pump their fists, go crazy and "make some f***ing noise," reminding each and every fan along the way that he loves them all.
Other favorite classics from the show included "Fairies Wear Boots," "Snowblind," and the main set closer "Children of the Grave," but it seemed that a lot of fans were already very familiar with the sampling of new material from, "13," and were eager to hear the material in concert.
Each of the four new numbers performed, "Age of Reason," "End of the Beginning," "God is Dead?" and "Methademic," saw audience members singing along and responding with thunderous appreciation at the end of each. This may have been one of those shows where Sabbath could have even gotten away playing one or two more new songs, but time constraints and the desire to hit as many buttons with fans as possible prevented it.
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