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The O2 Academy - Birmingham, England
May 19 2012
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Well, I can say that this was a dream come true.
When people ask me which bands I've never seen playing live, I often answer: Van Halen, Mercyful Fate and Black Sabbath.
I actually have seen Black Sabbath under the name Heaven & Hell, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals and Vinnie Appice on drums. I also have to admit that the Black Sabbath albums with Dio are my favourite Black Sabbath albums. Still, Heaven & Hell never played songs from the early Sabbath days.
The band's original line-up reunited in 2011 and scheduled a European tour. Sadly Tony Iommi has been fighting against cancer and the tour had to be cancelled. Only the show at the Download Festival was mantained.
Later, a show in the Chicago was added, for the Lolapalooza Festival.
Finally, a new concert was announced: an intimate show warm-up gig in Birmingham, the band's home town, with all the profits given for charity.
Not only this was the first concert since the reunion but it also was the only indoors gig. A friend and I didn't wanted to miss that. Even if the show was sold out within a couple of hours, we found a reasonably priced plane ticket with flybe and didn't hesitate to book it.
The day before the concert, the O2 Academy of Birmigham posted on facebook that the last 20 tickets will be available at 11 AM the day of the show. As soon as the plane arrived, we ran to the O2 and could buy tickets! We were very lucky, tickets on the Viagogo ticket exchange site were sold at the double price or more.
In the afternoon we visited the city that Black Sabbath and Judas Priest call home, and where Robert Plant grew up. I guess it's fair enough to say that Heavy Metal was invented in Birmingham.
The O2 Academy is a great concert venue. It's confortable and well arranged. Nowhere else I've seen free glasses of water at the bar when it gets too hot. And it was indded very hot: as the O2 Academy was totally sold-out with 3800 lucky and unchained fans.
The pictures here were taken with a small compact camera, and during the whole show people didn't stop moving and headbanging. Quality isn't great but I hope you enjoy them.
There was no opening band. Exactly at 20:30 we heard an intro containing excerpts from several well known Sabbath songs. After that Ozzy ran on stage, Geezer appeared on the left side, Tony on the right side and Tommy Clufetos on the rear.
The crowds were screaming of excitement and as soon as Tony Iommi started the riff of Into The Void, we found ourselves pushed to the front and totally compressed among other people. It was surreal to feel the enthusiasm of the fans. It didn't took long until we all got almost in trance.
Right after the first song, people started to scream "Tony! Tony!", before the band continued with Under the Sun.
People were touched, some were even crying... there was a lot of positive energy there. Yes positive. The happiness of hundreds of people realizing the dream of watching Black Sabbath, and seeing Tony Iommi alive and kicking.
One of the most touching moments was Iron Man. Ozzy looked at Tony and shouted "He is Iron Man!", refering to his brave fight against this illness.
The band performed an amazing setlist full of rare titles. From Symptom Of The Universe and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath they only played the main riffs, while Lord Of This World was supposed to be performed but they skipped it. In the end, it was 1 hour and 50 minutes of total madness!
I had the impression that they slowed down the songs. The sound was loud, heavy and oppressive. It definitely was a Doom Metal concert, but the crowds reacted as if it was Motörhead on stage.
The whole band gave their best during the performance.
Geezer's bass is the spine of Black Sabbath, the ones that gives the particular heavy sound.
Tony Iommi didn't look ill at all, he's certainly getting better and that's the best news we can get from the Sabbath camp. He plays great, I can't think of any other guitarist that sounds like him.
Ozzy doesn't have the same attitude on stage with his band and with Sabbath. When pulling faces, he actually looked evil, nothing to do with the nice guy that sings Crazy Train. He almost made me forget about his lousy TV series. Sometimes he sang out of tune, but nobody cared about this.
Adam Wakeman on keyboards was invisible, but could be heard from time to time.
Finally Tommy Clufetos did a great job behind the drums and there's nothing wrong to say about his performance. Netherless, he's not the guy we were expecting.
Im really pissed off about Bill Ward not being in the band. It probably wasnt personal between him and the rest of the band, but something between managers.
It was something about money.
The band gave control to their representatives, exchanging their friendship for money. Because of this, those Black Sabbath shows have a bitter taste. I hope they'll find a solution, because we all know that sadly, Sabbath won't be around for many more years.
Tonight's gig still felt like going back in time. Black Sabbath is not the kind of band that one expects to see on a small stage. The pictures and videos from the 70's came to my mind, it was difficult to realize that we've just seen the legend.
Ozzy thanked the audience and didn't forget to say how proud he was of being from Birmingham. The show ended with an uforgettable version of Paranoid. The band left the stage as the crowds kept on screaming "Tony! Tony!".
Needless to say, this was an unforgettable evening. A real communion between the band and the crowds, and it was incredible to be part of it.
01. Into the Void
02. Under the Sun
04. War Pigs
05. Wheels of Confusion
06. Electric Funeral
07. Black Sabbath
08. The Wizard
09. Behind the Wall of Sleep
11. Fairies Wear Boots
12. Tomorrow's Dream
13. Sweet Leaf / Symptom Of The Universe
––– Drum Solo –––
14. Iron Man
15. Dirty Women
16. Children Of The Grave
17. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath / Paranoid
Black Sabbath Links:
Black Sabbath Website
Black Sabbath CDs on play.com
Black Sabbath CDs at Amazon.com
Black Sabbath iTunes downloads
Black Sabbath on Flickr
Black Sabbath band Line-up:
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals / Harmonica
Tony Iommi – Guitars
Geezer Butler – Bass
Tommy Clufetos – Drums
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards
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