What better place to see the most influential heavy metal band in music history, Black Sabbath play than Austin, Texas aka “Music City“? The current North American tour line up is Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi (guitar legend), Geezer Butler (the bass players bass player!) and Tommy Clufetos (drums – he normally plays in Ozzy’s solo band) – basically the original band (1968-1978) minus Bill Ward. I saw them play at Donnington in the UK last year and wasn’t going to miss the rare chance to see them play again! I wasn’t disappointed either as it was a great show in the UK and now in Austin too.
It was a hot night in Austin but the Frank Irwin Centre had their air conditioning pumping and the crowd was raring to go (this was the second show of the tour following Houston 2 nights before). Strangely rather than singing, Andrew W.K. opened the concert as a D.J. spinning old metal tracks! This was a pretty good warm-up but I would rather have seen a band play. Anyway his music selection was good with AC/DC, Metallica. Rob Halford and much more, so it lead nicely into the opening number of Black Sabbath which was the classic War Pigs.
Black Sabbath played for about 2 hours and in that time managed to play a number of absolute classics along with tracks from their excellent new album “13” (released in June 2013) which has the sound of their early albums. This was the first new studio album with Ozzy since 1978’s Never Say Die!
Ozzy was in a crazy mood and it set the vibe for fun night (at one stage he was standing really close to Tony Iommi as he played and Tony was doing his best to not totally crack up! I would love to know what Ozzy was saying to him!). Every now and then between songs Ozzy would go “woo hoo” through the microphone and we would all do it back. He said we were all as crazy as him. Sharon Osbourne was sitting right near us, she must have been laughing away at his antics (she has seen far worse)!
The setlist for the night included War Pigs, Into the Void, Snowblind, Age of Reason (new), Black Sabbath (it is so good hearing this live), Behind the Wall of Sleep, N.I.B., Under the Sun, End of the Beginning (new), Fairies Wear Boots (this was accompanied with an awesome video of some fairies I would like in my back garden!), Methademic (new – but a bonus track on the deluxe version of the album), Rat Salad, a drum solo (Tommy Clufetos put on a brilliant and loud display which the crowd really go into – we would all like to have seen Bill Ward play but it wasn’t going to happen as he apparently “isn’t up to it anymore”, so Tommy was a great choice – he played in the UK too), Iron Man (Ozzy said Tony Iommi is the real Ironman – he has been battling Lymphoma cancer, so it was great to see him still going strong), God is Dead? (new), Dirty Women (love it!), Children of the Grave and an encore performance of the legendary Paranoid. A great set list!
Ozzy is Ozzy and he didn’t always hit the notes the way he once did (he had some problem with his monitor and had pulled the ear plugs out pretty early which would not have helped), but hey, he is 64 years old, has battled and survived more drug and alcohol addictions than just about anyone and also survived a serious quad bike accident in the UK in 2003 (breaking his collarbone, eight ribs and a neck vertebra!). We can cut him some slack and for most of the show he was as close to being on song as we are going to get (he was better in the UK in 2012 but since then he fell off the wagon and went back into rehab) and sounded good on the newer songs and some of the biggest classics. The rest of the band played those beloved heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums the way we all like, so who cares? Geezer and Tony are fantastic and it was brilliant just to hear Black Sabbath live again!
As you can see from my photos the back drop of the stage was an impressive organic yet sinister looking triple screen display that showed close-ups of the band members and various backing videos. The lighting effects were excellent and the stadium had good sound. All in all a great night of Black Sabbath man!