Opening with the aptly titled Black Sabbath, the song’s slow beat and droning guitar alongside pacing lyrics acted like a mission statement.
“Let’s go crazy tonight!” Ozzy Osbourne barked mid-song, and Tony Iommi’s guitar twisted into a muted frenzy with Geezer Butler turning up the grit on his bass.
Some call and response between Osbourne and the audience was rewarded with sludge metal megahit Into The Void, and various audience members couldn’t contain their enthusiasm, with some seated punters upright and head banging so hard they had a real chance of leaving with a concussion – all in the name of air guitar and air drumming dedication.
A band introduction on the first night of the tour saw the effects of long-haul flights kick in for the legendary wordsmith. “I’m still jetlagged from the flight so please excuse me,” Osbourne admitted through a constantly breaking voice. He could barely talk, but singing was a different matter.
At 67 years of age, it’s hard to fault his stage presence or (for the most part) vocal ability, with the singer able to hold a steady note for days. Although, after hearing “I can’t hear you! I still can’t hear you!” every second song, one might think his stage banter is less about theatrics and more a medical condition.
War Pigs also suffered a false start: “Sorry about that folks, it’s our first night in Australia.” But it was only one of few faults from the band.
Osbourne might steal the spotlight and be the most widely known member but it wasn’t just a one man show, with the band’s other three members (and the session musos hidden side of stage by curtains) proving their worth over and over again, from Butler’s sweeping, mesmerising intro to N.I.B. and more, drummer Tommy Clufetos pounding the absolute shit out of the drums in every song (almost stealing the entire show with a drum solo while the main man took a mid-set break), and Iommi making complex guitar work look like child’s play; all three powerhouse elements coming together nicely during various jams throughout the set.
Apart from their shredding ability, there was nothing more metal than a punter in a wheelchair crowd surfing to Iron Man, and that was indeed one of the show’s highlights.
The pace and structure of each song was truly what kept things interesting; a songwriting trait that helped them pioneer a genre and still holds up today, hits like Hand Of Doom and Children Of The Grave a prime example of that.
Before anyone had a chance to soak in a memorable and historic hour-and-a-half, the end of the beginning of the end had arrived with encore Paranoid (featuring crowd surfing wheelchair punter again) and Black Sabbath had played their final ever Perth show. The show was a bittersweet goodbye to an iconic band that had given punters so much over the past five decades.