LIVE: BLACK SABBATH with Rival Sons – Perth, 15 April, 2016
Perth Arena, Friday 15 April, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photos supplied by tour photographer Ross Halfin*
We’ve seen so many acts use a “final” tour as a gimmick that it’s easy to be cynical about them, but with Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler all close to 70, and Iommi’s recent cancer battle, there’s every chance this is legit.
Accordingly, they’ve gone back to their roots for this tour, delving deep into their catalogue for an equal mix of fan favourites and ‘greatest hits’, and leaning primarily on their seminal first three albums.
With Five Finger Death Punch out of the picture due to an outbreak of lead singer disease, only a quarter of the venue was full for the start of the solitary support act.
They entered to a spaghetti-western theme, magnetised the crowd, then Rival Sons left, after a riveting 33 minutes. Put simply, Scott Holiday’s enormo-riffs, Jay Buchanan’s golden force-of-nature wail and Plant-Hutchence-and-a-touch-of-Morrison charisma, and the band’s enviably tight retro-soul rock vibe and Led Zeppelin histrionics, had the crowd in the palm of their hands from the word go.
Despite this tour de force, the mob are here for The End.
Where would Heavy Metal be without Black Sabbath? Well, they may have as much to answer for as celebrate with that question, but tonight is all about celebrating their origins – and therefore, the origins of metal. The End is, inherently, about the beginning.
That Sabbath sound huge is hardly a surprise. Their sound has inspired thousands of bands and dozens of sub-genres in the 45+ years since their debut.
New boy Tommy Clufetos hits hard and apes Bill Ward’s outrageously inventive drumming well. When it’s time for his solo on Rat Salad, he proves he is more than capable of mixing it with the big boys.
Ozzy introduces keyboard player Adam (son of Rick) Wakeman seemingly as a courtesy – we barely hear his contributions, and he waves thanks from side of stage out of a cubbyhole seemingly draped in blankets, making us wonder why he’s there at all.
The Big Three though, make most of the noise, and they do it in more style than any modern metal band could dream of.
Ozzy’s vocals are in far better form than their last visit, three years ago, until he whoops the crowd up one too many times before Snowblind. We could literally hear his voice blow out. Rather than wave the white flag, though, he soldiered on (thank goodness), never losing one iota of the charisma that has held him in a job for nearly fifty years.
Geezer Butler shows what 99% of modern bass players have never learnt: that you don’t have to follow the drums to make a rhythm section work. His playing – especially his innovative use of wah-wah pedal – remains ground-breaking today.
And then there’s Tony Iommi. The riffmaster. The man who led the charge with a sound which was unlike anything that had come before, and which paved the ground for everyone who followed. Looking healthy and on top of his cancer preventative regime, and seems to revel in playing relatively obscure numbers like Into The Void and Hand Of Doom.
The obscurities mean some expected numbers aren’t there – which isn’t a problem until Dirty Women shows up. Like Rock n’ Roll Doctor on their last tour, this song is redundant and takes time from absent classics like Sweet Leaf, Symptom Of The Universe, Tomorrows Dream, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Never Say Die and more.
What we do get is as unpredictable a set of early metal as anyone could have hoped for. Classics Iron Man and N.I.B. cosy up to After Forever and Behind the Wall Of Sleep. Black Sabbath opens the show with all the ominous foreboding that they can summon. Fairies Wear Boots and Children Of The Grave are immense walls of sound and emotion.
Never has ninety minutes flown by so quickly, yet they return for a fresher-than-in-decades run through the classic Paranoid, leading many grandads to shake their heads like fifteen-year-olds – unthinkable in 1970.
I’m sure my neck won’t be the only one sore tomorrow, and I’m certain that ten thousand bands could take notes on how to be better, just by realising that Sabbath were innovators and never followers.
* Please note that no local photographers were permitted at this show, even though the supplied official photos were not taken at this show, and indeed, the official photographer was not even present at this show. These photographs appear to be from Black Sabbath’s recent U.S. tour.
Set List: Rival Sons
Pressure and Time
Where I’ve Been
Open My Eyes
Keep On Swinging
Set List: Black Sabbath
Fairies Wear Boots
Into the Void
Behind the Wall of Sleep
Hand of Doom
Children of the Grave
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE