Black Sabbath - US Airways Center - 8/30/13
Really, it's hard to fill out a Sabbath concert song by song, as the tracks typically followed a similar pattern running though multiple sections (in varying orders) of fast, slow, loud and soft--the band's trademarked approach--all while sounding as if from a horror show.
Yet several things were striking, the least of which is the staying power and sheer magnitude of Black Sabbath's music all these years later. This isn't the Rolling Stones or even The Who, which has a much broader appeal, but a band with a darker sub-culture, a heavier, almost threatening tone. Yet, their new album topped the sales charts and hundreds of bands have followed their lead into heavy metal, grunge and the like.
What also stood out was that this beautifully loud, forceful and pounding wave of music is being made by 60-somethings. Such an idea was unfathomable when Black Sabbath began in 1970.
At that stage, rock and roll was just a teenager and anyone performing in their 60s was either crooning, yodeling or playing skiffle music. And here our rock and roll saviors continue to assault the senses all these years on, and we thank them for it, beg for it, pleaded for more.
For two hours the audience didn't waver in it's demands, and as long as they yelled loud enough for Ozzy, they got it: "Black Sabbath," "Behind the Wall of Sleep" (the song that coined the term "Heavy Metal"), "N.I.B.," a stunningly perfect, riviting "Fairies Wear Boots," and of course "Iron Man," which many of the kids in the crowd seemed to recognize, probably from the movies.
Oh yeah, and after "Fairies" these sectarians took a breather while Cluefetos belted out an insane 10-minute drum solo. Cluefetos, who looked like a raving-mad Jesus with a gong halo behind, and head banging disciples in front, was ferocious and crafty. It reminded me of a time when drum solos were a regular part of the rock concert experience. Where have they gone?
There are so many great drummers out there, but maybe the roles have changed for modern bands and drummers just lay down the beat and go home. Or perhaps modern audiences now are too tepid. Yet, with Black Sabbath, where the drumming is such a stand-out part of each song, it makes sense to give the drummer his due.
Coming out of the drums, Ozzy's guttural "I am Iron Man" cry ignited the crowd anew as Iommi threw down that now iconic opening riff. When the pounding subsided, the band segued smoothly into the quiet opening of a soon-to-be scorching rendition of "God is Dead?"