Live Report - Black Sabbath – The End Tour - 22nd January 2017 – Manchester Arena, Manchester, UK
Live Gig

Release year: 0
Reviewed by Goat

Billing a tour as being your farewell is a risky proposition for a rock band given how often they seem to have spurious reformations, and Black Sabbath aren’t innocent of this over the years and various vocalists. Bill Ward’s continuing absence isn’t a good thing either, whether it’s due to health reasons or personal animosity, and neither Brad Wilk who played on most of 13 or live drummer Tommy Clufetos (also of Ozzy’s solo band) are as good as Ward was on the original recordings. Still, given that 13 was an underappreciated album, and that the three original members here are all pushing 70, the chance to see them on what might be a final hurrah shouldn’t be missed.

Opening band Rival Sons have crossed my path before, and they were fine then and are fine now. Hailing from California and playing perfectly decent classic rock worship, they’re probably more influenced by Led Zeppelin than Black Sabbath, but do a good job here of heating up the crowd with lots of warm-toned riffing and vocal wails. A few years ago and they’d be a big deal with an Apple ad; now, they’re fun but skippable.

Black Sabbath are clearly who the (mostly older) crowd was here to see, and duly played about as intensely as a band with a combined age of over 200 possibly could. We know Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi are legends, and the two were duly on point, but the real revelation of the evening was Ozzy. Cutting almost as eerie a figure as in the band’s early days, his voice was excellent and served to propel the band into an opening Black Sabbath that was both heavy and spooky, the fathers of doom metal proving their credentials, then onwards through a set largely made up of the first four albums. Classic song followed classic song, After Forever, Into The Void, Snowblind, War Pigs, Behind The Wall of Sleep, NIB, Iron Man, Children of the Grave and an encore of Paranoid were all greatly appreciated by the audience, who clearly knew and loved the band. Some even managed a small but violent-looking circle pit, which doesn’t at all seem appropriate for this band but each to their own!

It seems churlish to complain, but I would have liked to hear even one song from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Fairies Wear Boots and Rat Salad are simply not up to other classics of the era, and including Technical Ecstasy’s Dirty Women is downright perverse. Far too much time was given to a not especially fantastic drum solo from Tommy Clufetos, too; it may have been to let his older bandmates have a breather, and Black Sabbath are definitely of that era where such things are mandatory, but I’d almost have been happier with an interlude. Still, the crowd loved it as much as the rest of the set, and given how strong it was overall wasn’t near enough to spoil the evening. Clufetos himself was a more than able backer for the band, as was keyboardist Adam ‘son of Rick’ Wakeman. The sound wasn’t perfect, either, but griping about that really does feel like finding excuses to complain; saying farewell to one of metal’s founding fathers is significant enough to overcome bigger problems. And farewell it was, although the band didn’t address it; Ozzy’s between-song banter was very light, and he kept his energy for singing, constantly miming clapping along, and a couple of times getting down on hands and knees to bow to the audience. We were a good audience, but it’s impossible to deny that it’s definitely us that should have been bowing.

Killing Songs :
Goat quoted
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