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Black Sabbath reach The End with triumphant final gigs in Brum!


Birmingham supergroup Black Sabbath played their last ever tour gigs. Heavy metal legends burn the house down on an unforgettable nights.
With the Genting Arena stage, quite literally, in flames, the inventors of heavy metal called it a day in the city where it all began. Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and babe in arms Tommy Clufetos – he’s only 37 – have finally reached ‘The End’.

The founder members all qualify for bus passes these days, but there’s a fire that still burns within. And when they hit that machine-tooled groove in the likes of Into The Void and Children Of The Grave, the years fall away.

On Thursday night, the first of the two homecoming shows, Sabbath settled for the set list they have taken around the world. No surprises, just polished performances of back catalogue classics bookended by Black Sabbath and Paranoid. The capacity crowd, some of them made-up to look like guitar hero Iommi, lapped up every lick, rocked every riff. And the special effects store must have empty shelves today, because Sabbath packed every SFX staple into the two hours.

Flame throwers? Check. Fireworks? Check. Confetti cannons? Check. Smoke machines. Check. The mother of all high-definition screens, spanning the entire stage, served up imaginative visuals. And did I mention the hundreds of black and purple balloons that fell from the rafters?
Highlights inevitably included Children Of The Grave, War Pigs and Butler bass-driven N.I.B. And Dirty Women boasted a searing Iommi solo worth the price of admission alone. Clufetos flailed about his kit like a refugee from Spinal Tap, but stepped up for an inventive solo. Meanwhile, out of sight, Adam Wakeman – son of Rick – provided keyboards from side stage. And Ozzy, dear Ozzy, sounded better than he has for many a year. He doesn’t hit all the notes, but then he never did.

“We have one more gig here,” he said, punching his heart: the one mention of tonight’s final showdown. But someone please help him with the bionic ear hearing aid he paid megabucks for in LA. “I can’t hear you!” got a tad repetitious after the first dozen exhortations. Thanks for the memories, guys. 

They gave the world heavy metal and, in The End, the world came to Birmingham to thank them for it. As Black Sabbath played out the final concert of their last tour, fans travelled from far and wide to enjoy a unique, unforgettable night. The die hards arrived from Uruguay, Poland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, and cities like LA, NY and Vegas to name but a few. 

The atmosphere before the show was electric, with a buzz all the way around the Genting Arena as Sabbath prepared for the final curtain of a career which began in The Crown pub on Station Street almost 50 years ago in 1968. Throughout the night, on stage and on the brilliant screen behind, the whole production appeared to engulf the band – and the stadium – in flames. One by one, the band ripped through their classic anthems – detailed in our review from Thursday night’s first NEC show.

From Black Sabbath to War Pigs, Iron Man, Children of The Grave and the solitary encore, Paranoid, the riffs that has spawned countless various of heavy metal around the globe played out one last time. In the middle of it all, a breathtaking drum solo from Tommy Clufetos, the only non-original member of the band which began with Bill Ward on drums. The mixture of visual effects and pyrotechnics was genius, and befitting the final countdown. Ozzy limited his swearing and thanked the fans several times for coming. There was no grandiose speech, just a desire to have fun and ask if the fans were enjoying it, too.

The band then stood at the front of the stage, faced away from the fans and had their pictures taken one more time. Then they faced the fans one more time before exiting stage left, waving as they said goodbye. It was an extraordinary night, when the boys from Aston made it look like they’d an NEC stage into a foundry. Ozzy disappeared quickly, but Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi both enjoyed a relaxed hour at the backstage party – looking as remarkably fresh as spring daisies. Guests included friends like Jasper Carrott, Nick Owen, Gary Newbon and drummers Carl Palmer (ELP) and ex-Sabbath member Bev Bevan as well as many family members and friends.

Bye Bye Black Sabbath! \m/  \m/ 

It is The End, but not the end, so we still have hope...  As someone said... "with this band there are only two constant things: Iommi and change".

Never Say Die! 

Graham Young for Birmingham Mail, 5 February 2017


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