With frontman Ozzy Osbourne alternating between the all-powerful voice of doom and a prince of darkness likely to make “cuckoo” noises, it was an epic night Wednesday for British metal icons Black Sabbath and about 8,900 energized fans at Budweiser Gardens.
The jammed arena was loud and the fans on their feet singing and chanting along all the way through the opener War Pigs, as Osbourne urged them on.
“Let me see those hands,” Osbourne commanded over and over. That was Wednesday’s catchphrase, heard many times before the thunderous encore, Paranoid.
Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler were a front line ready to triumph with songs from the band’s classic days in the 1970s.
“We’re going to take you back to the very beginning,” Osbourne said during the early going. “Here’s one of our earliest compositions called” — and he paused for an open armed gesture of complete calm — Black Sabbath.”
The metal-edged dirge that followed had a classic Ozzy moment — a wild satanic laugh inspired by a devilish turn in the lyrics and a clutch of his dark, sparkling top with his painted — black, or course — fingernails. That’s why they have those big screens on rock tours.
The concert looked to be Black Sabbath’s first Ozzy-fronted gig here, making it a night of metal history in London.
In recent years, fans have seen Osbourne, as a solo act, and Heaven And Hell, with the late Ronnie James Dio joining Iommi and Butler, at the London arena.
Butler, who plays with frenzy, and Iommi, a master of dark calm, were strong all night. About 90 minutes in, the band had visited such classics as Snowblind and Iron Man — with the fans matching Ozzy’s best voice of doom moments — and a new and mighty dirge in God Is Dead? from the recent album, 13.
Early on, the frontman had shrugged off a dark cloak, revealing a much more functional dark tunic-styled top underneath. He later switched to a purple top.
Osbourne’s drummer, Tommy Clufetos, has been filling in on dates with Osbourne, Iommi and Butler in place of Billy Ward, who apparently opted out of the album and tour for contractual reasons. Wednesday’s drummer was admirably topless for April and thundered through a back-to-the-1970s solo, complete with double bass drum fury.
There were also moments when things were just Ozzy-odd.
“It’s fun being crazy because nobody takes you serious,” Osboure confided at one point, laughing gleefully. It was also impossible to keep track of the “cuckoo” noises the rock icon emitted, let alone the many variations on needing to see “those hands.”
To the fans, it was no problem. They waved and did the Ozzy sway. The hero of the night responded with some wild boots at a beach ball that occasionally made its way to the stage.
Osbourne was much more direct and on-message when he thanked fans for making 13 a No. 1 album.
By James Reaney, The London Free Press