Black Sabbath brings “The End” to San Jose
By Jesse Amazeen
Forty-eight years ago, in Birmingham, England, a child was born. That child’s name? Heavy Metal. And the parents? Black Sabbath. Many have argued that Led Zeppelin fathered what we now know as simply “metal”, but to most metalheads, Sabbath is the blueprint for heavy, blues-based rock ‘n’ roll. They proved that fact fifteen times over, at the SAP Center in San Jose on Tuesday.
Supporting their latest album “13”, and if you believe their statements, putting to rest nearly five decades of touring, Black Sabbath titled this tour “The End”. This was not to be some sad, half-hearted ending though, rather, it was a celebration of one of the greatest metal bands to walk the earth.
Fans arrived early, and in droves. Although it’s been less than three years since Sabbath’s last trek through the Bay Area, the crowd was brimming with anticipation. Adding to the tension was the specter of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne’s recent health issues, which forced the cancellation of several recent Canadian dates, and created some doubt as to whether he’d be up to the task.
Opening the show and hailing from Long Beach, California, Rival Sons kept the crowd at bay for nearly an hour with their brand of soul-infused hard rock. Lead singer Jay Buchanan belted out a stunning vocal performance, while guitarist Scott Holiday wailed on his retro-styled Fano guitar, thoroughly impressing most concertgoers, and making it clear why they were chosen for such a coveted opening slot.
Finally, the moment arrived; this was the beginning of “The End”. The lights went down, and darkness gave way to a chilling video intro, complete with a fire-breathing demon. Next came the iconic tolling of the bell, as the curtains went up, and the band launched into their signature opening track, “Black Sabbath”. Flames shooting up from the speaker cabinets were a fitting backdrop for this, the darkest of metal anthems. Guitarist Tony Iommi didn’t miss a note as he deftly coaxed riff after haunting riff from his trademark Gibson SG guitar, to the delight of the bloodthirsty crowd.
Black Sabbath Video
Plunging next into “Fairies Wear Boots”, then “After Forever”, Ozzy reminded us why he’s one of the greatest frontmen in all of rock. Any doubts about his vocal abilities were soon squashed, as the sixty-seven-year-old tore through the Black Sabbath catalog with ease. Though his onstage antics are somewhat less dramatic now, Ozzy had no trouble engaging the audience with his high-energy stage persona.
Playing mainly fan favorites from their Paranoid, Master of Reality, and Black Sabbath albums, this dark, metal machine was unstoppable. Geezer Butler laid down the bottom end as only he can, and wowed concertgoers with his four-string skills on classic renditions of “Behind the Wall of Sleep”, and “N.I.B.”.
Drummer Tommy Clufetos had perhaps the most difficult job of the evening, having to not only play perfectly for nearly two hours, but also to win over die-hard fans of the band’s original drummer, Bill Ward, who sat out the tour due to a widely publicized contract dispute. To his credit, Clufetos turned in a brilliant, thundering performance, and showcased his talent further with a blistering drum solo at the end of “Rat Salad”.
Breaking from the classics of the 1970’s, the masters of metal performed “God is Dead”, the night’s only song from their latest CD, to the approval of a still-ready-for-more crowd. Sabbath again obliged, serving up “Dirty Women” and “Children of the Grave” before playing what may be their final song in San Jose. We all knew the radio favorite “Paranoid” would find its way into the setlist somewhere, and it was appropriate to save one of their most memorable songs for last. Concertgoers were rewarded with a blizzard of purple and white confetti after chanting “one more song” to coax the band onstage for the encore. As the final notes rang out, pyros lit up the stage one more time before the band took their curtain call. If this truly is “the end”, it’s a fitting one. Even so, the legacy of Black Sabbath will surely live on, “after forever”, in the hearts and eardrums of their devoted fans.
• Black Sabbath
• Fairies Wear Boots
• After Forever
• Into the Void
• War Pigs
• Behind the Wall of Sleep
• N.I.B. (w/”Bassically” intro)
• Hand of Doom
• Rat Salad (w/drum solo)
• Iron Man
• God Is Dead?
• Dirty Women
• Children of the Grave