On Thursday 25th April 2013 I had the pleasure of witnessing the pioneers of a genre that I love play one of the most amazing concerts I’ve ever witnessed. Black Sabbath proved to be everything I desired and more with a lot of my favourite songs being featured in the set including my two all-time favourite Sabbath songs “Into the Void” and “Children of the Grave” both of which come from my favourite Black Sabbath album “Master of Reality” – it was fucking glorious.
Witnessing the master of the riff Tony Iommi was other worldly and kept pushing me to maximum emotional overload during the course of the evening. Here was an individual who helped shape the sound of how I love to hear music. Without the forward thinking nature of Iommi we wouldn’t have had the heavy metal revolution of the past 40 years. I don’t care who or what wants to challenge me on that point, anything good about heavy metal began with the magic doom riffs of Iommi, 100 per cent truth. A big part of what I love about the sound of a guitar is that deep doom laden riff that birthed through the Sabbath discography. A lot of my favourite heavy bands (both of the punk, metal and rock genres) are all disciples of the church of Iommi and if I study my music collection it becomes so insanely clear that without Iommi a lot of them wouldn’t have existed. I idolise Tony Iommi quite a bit and hearing those riffs and that fucking guitar tone of his ooze out of the speakers of the entertainment centre on Thursday was as I’ve mentioned other worldly and an insanely emotional experience.
To focus solely on Iommi though is to take away from the power of Geezer Butler and his amazing emotional intensity on the bass guitar. I spent a good portion of the evening on Thursday night fixed on Geezer and his fiery rhythm skills which along with Bill Ward was the second most vital part of the Sabbath template. Although Mr Ward was not present the ever capable Tommy Clufetos handled the drums quite beautifully and completed that rhythm section with style and grace. I love watching a good rhythm section and Geezer showcased why he is one the most important bass players ever. No arguments there, his skills and bottom end are the sound that gives those Iommi riffs so much doom, depth and power. His sonic template can be heard all throughout the history of the riff, Geezer Butler is a god amongst men.
This brings me to Ozzy Osbourne who proved once again that he is one of the world’s greatest frontmen and whose emotional wail gives a voice to the depth of the Sabbath sound. That voice is the definition of unique and when combined with his entertaining stage presence gives context to why he is such a celebrated legend of rock n roll and on Thursday night he delivered. If he wasn’t putting his all into his vocal performance he was uttering “god bless you all” or “we love you all” to the audience. Ozzy is a human being who is truly in awe of the love we the audience show him and the band that launched his career.
From the moment that the lights went down and that air raid siren sounded you knew you were in for something special and before you know it, there they are, BLACK FUCKING SABBATH!!!!!!!!!! and like a fucking bomb exploding the opening run of “War Pigs” erupts sending the audience into a fucking fit of excitement. I must admit I was overcome with an extreme wave of emotion spending the bulk of those first few minutes of “War Pigs” applauding and screaming out some very loud and emotional “FUCK YES’” – sometimes your emotions overtake your body in such life affirming moments and this was a prime example.
I spent the bulk of “War Pigs” reminding myself that I was indeed looking at BLACK FUCKING SABBATH and trying ever so hard to control myself from becoming too overwhelmed with emotion. I tell you, I’m not a person who cries easily but hearing those riffs, those beautifully doomy riffs and seeing the pioneers of heavy metal directly in front of me sent more than a shiver up my spine it almost inspired tears, fuck it was an emotional eight minutes of my life. There was a moment towards the end of “War Pigs” you know the bit where the awesome outro run begins where I just started applauding once again and started screaming out “Thank You” very loudly. I identify heavily as a heavy metal fan before any other genre of music so I think the emotion of seeing BLACK FUCKING SABBATH took over and whether or not that thank you could be heard beyond the humans sitting around me didn’t matter, that was an energy I felt was vital to put out in the universe in that moment. I quite possibly may have had some moisture erupt from my eyes ever so briefly at that point, that is the power of the riff though – it will always reduce me to tears more than anything else in the musical world.
The rest of the night follows this pattern for not only me but the entire audience. Every classic riff and song is met with an intense applause and feverish show of audience participation. Whilst I don’t bang my head or thrash my body around (I love a good seated venue to soak up the atmosphere of the show and I was happy just sitting still watching it all) I still felt every inch of it and rode the wave of emotion that came with it. If the opening bars of “War Pigs” inspired extreme emotional overload in me then hearing the opening riff of “Black Sabbath” ring out caused me to descend into “shivered spine” heaven. That fucking riff, the riff that started it all was travelling into my ears via the magic hands of Iommi and fuck it was a glorious sea of blissed out doom. By the time the end riff gallops through the venue I’ve already reached my breaking point and just succumb to the emotion of it all, that fucking song and this fucking band mean the world to me and I just heard one of the most pioneering songs ever played live in front of me. Being “Emotionally overwhelmed” doesn’t quite sum up how I felt in that moment; it was a fucking beautiful experience that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
If my celebratory show of emotion had a beautiful crescendo it was during my favourite Black Sabbath song “Children of the Grave” – this song is the epitome of what is so fucking great about not only Sabbath but any metal band I love. There is an intense degree of archetype in this song and the way those riffs play out. In the live arena the song had all of the intensity and doomy impact that it has on record with that added “live show” pace. It really brought home the specialness of the whole evening and just proved once again how important Black Sabbath are to the history of music. The encore of course consists of the bands most well-known track “Paranoid” (with the teased intro of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” to lead us in). There couldn’t be a Black Sabbath show without hearing this classic track and it was a glorious rock n roll moment to witness. As the final notes ring out the audience are on their feet and once again the moment sweeps me up and I’m applauding and screaming a very loud “thank you” over and over again. Something about seeing the four musicians on stage link arms and bow just drills home even deeper how special the last two hours have been, we witnessed not only a reunion but quite possibly the last chance of seeing Black Sabbath play those songs in this lifetime. It was some important history and I was damn proud to be in attendance to witness every second of it.
Heavy metal as a genre of music means quite a bit to me. As a genre of music it has saved my life, coloured my life and also inspired a lot of what I do with my life. This following quote from Henry Rollins sums up why heavy metal resonates with me so deeply:
“Well I’ve always liked heavy music because it was as angry and as passionate as I was. That’s why a lot of us like metal music and heavy music because your heart beats heavy, you have big feelings and big emotions so you take things hard. You win and lose at love and life and you need some kind of soundtrack that hits as hard as you’re hitting life and life is hitting you, hence 80,000 people at the Wacken festival every year, hence the success of all these metal bands and why metal and heavy music is never, ever going to die.
It’s never going to be old, not to me at least and not to millions of other people because we live life in a very full contact way and so that aspect of my life hasn’t changed at all – things still hurt and you try your best and you fail, so you put on a High on Fire record and life gets better. I like music that’s not breaking walls down as well, you have to be eclectic and there’s lots of good music out there – Bob Dylan with an acoustic guitar also works.
I’ve become more mature in the years just because I’m 51, not 20 and I’ve had a lot of laughs from the trek, seen a lot of people die and been to a lot of countries and seen a lot of ups and downs . That kind of exposure to the world, it broadens you – especially all the loss in life, the defeat. If you’re smart enough to learn from it, good lessons and it has made me a more humble person.”
I don’t think I could have said it better myself.
Seeing Black Sabbath on Thursday 25th April 2013 proved to me that no genre in this world matters more to me than the healing power of heavy metal and that getting to hear the pioneers of the genre play those amazing songs they wrote all those years ago was emotionally overwhelming. The catch is they still sound relevant and fresh by today’s standards which highlight the brilliance and timeless quality of the Sabbath discography. Hearing and Seeing Iommi and Geezer play with the same fire and passion that they did in the 70’s and to have Ozzy lead in that beautiful way he leads, putting his all into his performance, was a beautiful thing to behold. All of them are masters of their chosen instrument.
It was indeed a beautiful night of music and a life affirming concert that made me want to chase the riff deeper and deeper into the next “however many” years I remain alive.
Heavy Metal always reminds me that there is good air to breathe and that life is a fucking amazing thing to navigate.
Black Sabbath Brisbane set list:
- War Pigs
- Into the Void
- Under the Sun
- Electric Funeral
- Black Sabbath
- Behind the Wall of Sleep
- End of the Beginning (new song)
- Fairies Wear Boots
- Symptom of the Universe (Instrumental)
- Drum Solo
- Iron Man
- God Is Dead? (new song)
- Dirty Women
- Children of the Grave
- Paranoid (“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” intro)
By: Dan Newton