Black Sabbath - US Airways Center - 8/30/13
All photos by Jim Louvau
US Airways Center
August 30, 2013 (View the complete slideshow.)There were more devil horns on display at Black Sabbath's concert Friday night than at an ASU football game. That's not surprising, however, given the band's affinity for dark lyrics, occult-like imagery and satanic references. What was surprising was the great form the band displayed all night.
My last Black Sabbath show was during the first reunion tour, which coincided with Ozzfest in 1997. That is not a good memory. While guitarist Tony Iommi was his usual stoic self on stage, lead singer Ozzy Osbourne was little more than a quivering ball of flesh, flitting about on stage and holding onto the mic stand for dear life.
Not tonight. Clean and sober for many years now, Ozzy actually jumped, danced and shuffled--albeit a little awkwardly (he hit the ground twice, but it was hard to tell if he fell, or jumped down on purpose)--about the stage. And even better, his voice was commanding and strong.
But how Ozzy moved, and how much he annoyed the crowd with continual post-song calls of "I can't fucking hear you," was of little concern for the near-sellout crowd intent on reliving the past or discovering a future with these musical icons.
I say future, because many a parent who begged their parents for a chance to see the original lineup in the '70s (I was one), returned tonight with children in tow. From the thundering music to the stellar light show and syncopated videos, the band--complete with original bassist Terry "Geezer" Butler and fill-in drummer Tommy Clufetos (founding member Bill Ward bowed out of the tour over a contract dispute) was hardly disappointing.
With the sounds of impending doom filling the arena, the band opened the proceedings with "War Pigs." A cape-wearing Osbourne seemed immediately comfortable, happy to be on stage as Iommi slowly prowled among his dark power chords and searing riffs, while Butler anchored the song with deep precision and rumbling force.
Cluefetos, who's backed Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent, among others, drove the song's maniacal pace. Video footage of war imagery filled the triple screens array, draped in gothic-styled curtains. Unable to resist, the crowd sung along at the end.
The heaviness continued as the black-dressed band moved rapidly through "Into The Void," "Under the Sun," and "Snowblind." "Age of Reason" was the first song played from 13, the original band's first album since 1978. Iommi explained in a recent interview with New Times that the band was trying to recapture that early-1970s sound.