Writing a review of what was the last of Black Sabbath’s Australian tours feels like putting a full stop at the end of one of the world’s most loved heavy metal bands. Whilst being a very sad occasion, it’s kind of gratifying that some bands know when to call a halt to their touring. Sadder are the bands that keep going despite having only one or no original members.
Rod Laver Arena was awash with Sabbath fans both young and not so young. Mortality can be a cruel thing when you think that the twenty-somethings will have to be content with Sabbath on C.D., vinyl or mp.3 streams now, but at least a few thousand got to witness ‘The End’.
With various line-up changes, Black Sabbath have been entertaining the troops since 1968, and forty-eight years of love, creativity, passion, energy and experience were packed up and wrapped up within the confines of the arena’s walls. For thirteen incredible songs we were a little universe of Sabbath hungry worshippers.
Ozzy Osbourne isn’t the dynamo he used to be. His years of drug and alcohol abuse and the passing of time have meant that his voice and memory and movements were not those of a healthy whippersnapper, but if Ozzy wasn’t the way Ozzy is, there wouldn’t be as much magic. There was joy in Osbourne on this night. He was having fun. Many times he asked the punters if they were enjoying themselves too, and it was plain to see he really wanted this to be a happily emotion filled occasion for everyone.
Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler didn’t move around the stage much, but their genius with the guitar and bass respectively has not waned over the years. They can make their instruments talk. Tommy Clufetos is an absolute freak on drums. With a drum solo in the middle of the set that gave the old-timers a break, he exhibited his rare talent. Words are not sufficient to convey just what that man can do with a set of drumsticks symbols and skins.
Out of a massive production with highlight after highlight, it’s difficult to choose the number that resonated most strongly with the crowd. Perhaps it was ‘Into the Void’? Maybe it was ‘War Pigs’? The crowd participation was exceptional with the whole arena full of swaying hands, clapping, and yelling. The energy kept building and by the time ‘Children of the Grave’ filled the air we were off our heads with the memories, the history, the moment.
They saved ‘Paranoid’ for their single song encore and the punters who were seated couldn’t contain their enthusiasm any longer. They stood and danced and made the last time they’d hear this song played live by the band that’d created it (in 20 minutes) a tribute to the Sabbath juggernaut. And so we all signed off on this massive piece of musical history thinking only one thing…respect.