Ponderous, predictable, pretentious, definitely un-pretty … and absolutely awesome.
Black Sabbath was all of the above and more at the band’s sold out concert at First Ontario Centre Friday night.
The first three words in this review come from the oh-so-knowledgeable critic that I’m supposed to be. The next two, well, are obvious. Ozzy Osbourne may be cute, even somewhat cuddly in his old age, but he’s never been pretty.
The “absolutely awesome” come from the 14-year-old adolescent inside me when his pal Eddy first played that Black Sabbath record back in Grade 11. War Pigs, Iron Man, Fairies Wear Boots, Paranoid …Wow. It was Friday Fright Night on vinyl. Bad, evil stuff. Records we had to keep hidden from our parents. Black Sabbath was our little secret.
That secret was shared by some 14,000 adoring fans at First Ontario Centre, all of whom probably experienced that same moment of rebellion at the age of 14. They were mostly male, mostly over 40 (I’m being kind here) and mostly dressed in black, leather if they had it.
But there were a few 14-year-olds there too, carrying on the tradition, probably with the help of dad. Black Sabbath was made for 14-year-old males and every year since 1970, it seems a new cohort of has been born.
As soon as we heard the sirens for the opening of War Pigs, we were back at that magic moment of first realization. Ozzy let loose a stream of F-bombs imploring us all to raise our hands. We did. “Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses.”
Black Sabbath’s lyrics have never really aspired to greater depth than, say, Vincent Price’s poetry readings in the Hilarious House of Frightenstein, but, back in those adolescent years, they always seemed to resonate with profundity.
But who cares about lyrics when you can watch Ozzy drenching his hair with Evian water, then pacing, sometimes waddling, back and forth like a drenched rat in a cage. Every now and then he’d let forth an otherworldly cackle or an endearing squeak. Ironically, the evil prince of rock ‘n’ roll would end each song with a thankful “God bless you” to the raging audience.
It wasn’t as insane as earlier Ozzy encounters, but all good nonetheless. The 65-year-old singer’s voice was clear, as was the sound. You could make out the words, even on the three new songs the band performed from Sabbath’s latest album 13.
The true stars of the show, however, were the two masters of metal – guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler. Iommi’s blistering guitar attack was relentless. The galloping lead he performed at the end of Iron Man was as good as they come, while Butler’s inevitable solo in N.I.B. was, as always, earth shaking.
Behind the three pension-aged founders was a comparably young, shirtless, bearded, tattooed, long-haired American on drums by the name of Tommy Clufetos, a veteran of Ozzy’s solo tours and stints with Rob Zombie and Ted Nugent. Clufetos did the band justice throughout, giving his massive kit an exceptional pounding during an insane 10-minute solo in Rat Salad.
The band’s Grammy winning new album, the first in many years, was the impetus for the current tour. It was the old stuff, the stuff we first heard in Grade 11 that the band really came to play and that’s what they delivered, a guilty pleasure for even the most jaded critic.
Article courtesy of Graham Rockingham @ thespec.com