Austin TX July 27 Concert Review

So Black Sabbath is touring again.  That’s not an entirely unique situation, they’ve been touring on and off since 1997 through 2013, some with Ozzy, some with Dio (yeah yeah, I know about the name thing – shut up).   What is unique is that this tour is to support a new album.  The Devil You Know notwithstanding, this is the first time Black Sabbath has done this since 1995 when Tony Martin was the singer.   So a “proper tour for an album” was something new.   And initially, I wasn’t planning on going.

The Roadtrip

Why?  Because I’m now 47, and I live in Dallas.  They weren’t playing Dallas (they didn’t play here on the Devil You Know tour either).   As I get older, traveling for concerts is something that doesn’t interest me.  However, a friend of mine said he would pick up my hotel fee and cover food while I was down there, so it was hard to say no to that kind of offer.   So my friend who made this offer flew in from Chicago, and the two of us drove down to Austin TX.   Given we’re both big Doctor Who & Black Sabbath fans, the time went quickly.   We had a stack of CD’s with us.  Naturally, “13″ got played quite a few times.  :)   Lively discussion makes a 4 hour drive go very quickly.

Checked into the hotel, and made our way over to the venue a bit early, I don’t think either of us really knew what was going to happen, so you just “go with it”.

Backstage

The schedule of events for the dayGiven my tickets are from the band, I had to wait for will call.  Doors weren’t open yet, so it was just some random milling around and waiting for something to happen.  Made my way towards the back where the buses were.   It was pretty hot, so we spent most of our time by the buses in the shade under some trees.  I was pretty much waiting for Pedro Howse to give me a ring.  Every time I’ve been at one of these, Pedro has done a bangup job at making sure I’m taken care of.  This was no exception.

After a wait where my friend and I hooked up with another guy who said he had a gift for Pedro, which was a really badass looking Sabotage Shirt (there’s a pic of that in my photo gallery).   We waited around and eventually got our passes and tickets.  At which point Pedro had us head downstairs and enter in through the door where the band and various people from that group went.  Obviously our passes worked as we passed half a dozen police and “security” people, and nobody said anything unless we talked to them.   Eventually made our way down to the area directly behind the stage.  The backside of that giant video board Sabbath is using is a bunch of wires and pegs.  No real surprise there, but it looks kind of funny from the backside.

Me & Pedro Howse, Geezer's Road Manager & guitarist in GZR.

Me & Pedro Howse, Geezer’s Road Manager & guitarist in GZR.

At this point Pedro came out, and I chatted with him, as I had met him many times before, I wanted to give him a hearty hello.   He had a health scare a couple of years ago.  He’s all fine now, but it was touch and go for awhile there.  Was glad to see him up, working, and doing quite well.  Introduced him to my friend, and we made our way down to the Cafeteria area.  I don’t know what its official name is, but it seemed like a central meeting area where everyone could grab something to eat, and just spend time.  This is where I spent most of my time, because while I had access, I didn’t want to randomly walk into some area I really wasn’t supposed to be, and make someone mad.

Adam Wakeman & myself.  He's a pretty skinny dude in person - I am not

Adam Wakeman & myself. He’s a pretty skinny dude in person – I am not

In this room I met several people.  Some of which I’ve met before, some not, just emails and the like.   There was a ton of crew, people I wouldn’t know, but the ones I did know were Ralph Baker (Tony’s manager), Gloria Butler (Geezer’s wife/manager), Sharon Osbourne, Adam Wakeman (keyboardist), Tommy Clufetos, and of course Pedro Howse.   Got to talk to all of them (except Sharon) in some capacity.  With Tommy it was just “Hey, how’s it going”, as I didn’t know him at all personally.  Pedro I talked to a lot, even put a bowl on his head in a bad haircut joke at the time.  Adam Wakeman I talked to a lot about Snakecharmer, as it’s a bloody brilliant album.   Gloria I’ve talked to a lot as I work for her and Geezer, but I had never met her in person.  She and Geezer have done a lot for my family and my children, so it was great to see her.  Same with Ralph Baker.  I’ve been dealing with him for a long time now, and given our general locations, I have never met him face to face.  He recognized me first, which is cool.   Pedro also gave me a gift bag from Geezer Butler.  He’s known for giving me goofy gifts in the past, and there were two this time.  One slightly goofy, one far more serious.   The goofy gift was an “Iron Man Beany Ball“.   It was in a bag, but still, I felt kind of silly on the floor of a Black Sabbath concert with that.  :)   The far cooler gift from him was a set of Doctor Who Royal stamps.  It had all 11 Doctors in a cool package.  Here’s a link to look at that.  That was most cool, as he and I share a love of Doctor Who.   As I said above, he and his wife have been most kind to me and my family, and these small little things are cool.  :)

The sign outside the "lunchroom"I did partake of the food, since I was permitted to do so.  They had a buffet with several choices.  A tofu thing, green beans, a really killer pot roast, chicken, several other choices I’ve forgotten about, as well as other non “dinner” things (like bananas, fresh fruit) – they even had boxes of Fruit Loops and other breakfast cereals as well as juices, etc..   So it was a well stocked buffet area no matter what time of day it was.

I never did get to meet the main band this time around (save for Tommy in passing and Adam in the lunchroom).  I was told the guys were doing some interview filming for some upcoming video release of some sort (I didn’t get any details on that, more later, I guess), plus the usual pre-show press.  There were some problems with the sound check, and then Geezer had a personal matter to take care of.    The kind of pass I had meant that I had to be out of the backstage area when the show started (even including Andrew WK – more on him in a minute), so we basically ran out of time.  But it’s all cool.  As I told them, this isn’t a social event, it’s where these guys are WORKING.  So I don’t assume a darned thing.  I consider myself lucky to even be there.   Had a great time hanging out backstage before the show.   Both Geezer & Pedro told me ahead of time that there wouldn’t be any time for after show stuff, as their flight schedule meant they had to leave the venue a mere ten minutes after the concert was over.  Which is good to know ahead of time actually, so you’re not hanging around hoping.

Some picks I got from Adam Wakeman (the two on the left), and Geezer (the other four)

Some picks I got from Adam Wakeman (the two on the left), and Geezer (the other four)

Before I wrap up the backstage part of this review, I wanted to say something about Sharon Osbourne.  Not so much about HER in particular, but it’s related to her.  I was standing in the hallway outside the cafeteria room, and she came in, and was walking down the hallway.  Her intended target was the woman (a friend of Gloria’s) who was standing to my immediate right.  She walked up to her and started talking.   While I never would expect her to acknowledge me, she was standing about 5 feet away from me.  I stood there quietly, and as she talked for a few minutes, I figure I’d grab a picture of her.  Now I didn’t want to anger her at all, so I went for the stealth method of photo.   I basically took my phone out of my pocket, grabbed the shot, and got it back in my pocket in like under three seconds.   Anyone who has an iPhone knows that shortcut to the camera on the lock screen.  That was a big use here.   When Sharon was done and walked away, the security guard for this area who saw the whole thing pointed at me, and said “He’s smooth”, as I managed to get the pic in just a matter of a couple of seconds.  :)

Anyway, our time was up, and Andrew WK was already on.  Didn’t want to get in trouble for real, so we headed out to the floor.   Onto the part of this story that is about the actual concert…

Andrew WK

Well, then there was Andrew WK.  Now first off, let me say that I have nothing against the man personally.  I don’t know him, so I’d be stupid to say something like “Andrew WK sucks”.   But what I will say is that this is a very strange, very weird choice, and the performance was very flat.

Andrew WKWhen I first heard that Black Sabbath was having a DJ open for them on the North American tour, I thought it was a joke.  I was expecting something cool, either some up and coming new metal band (I don’t mean nu-metal, I mean a new band), or a classic similar band, or SOMETHING.  Not a fucking DJ.  Once I found out it was real from my band connections, I was quite flabbergasted.  I couldn’t (and still don’t) understand the logic behind this, no matter WHO it was.  Andrew WK, or DJ Jazzy Jeff, or even Tommy Lee, who has dabbled in that.  Black Sabbath is a legendary metal band.  They deserve much better than to be opened by “just a DJ”.

So OK, this is actually happening.  I got into the seating arena, and it’s actually already started.  I don’t know how many songs he had played before I got in there (maybe 2 or 3), and I missed his intro, but he was playing “Straight Through the Heart” by Dio.  I went in there with an open mind.  I was thinking “Maybe he’s got some really awesome stage act or shtick”, and it would end up being not so bad.  About halfway through his set, I put a finger as to why this wasn’t working.  I realized that he didn’t even need to be there.  For two reasons.  He wasn’t “doing anything” with the tracks – they were straight up plays.  No mashups or remixes or anything like that.   Not that I like remixes mind you (I hate them), but it would have been something different than just pushing play which is what effectively was going on here.   Hell, I could do that from my own iPhone in the second row if I was hooked into the sound system via Bluetooth.  Second was that he had next to zero interaction with the crowd, and for the most part just stood there.  A couple of times he would air drum or air guitar or something, or throw his fist in the air, but honestly, I’d say 2/3 of the time he was a statue.   Only three times did he talk to the crowd, and it was nothing more than to say “Are you ready for the best fucking metal band in the world?”  It wasn’t the same thing three times, slightly different words, but that was IT, man.   His performance was flat, he was mostly a statue, and made no real attempt to get the crowd going in any way that I saw.   People around me were looking at their phones, or talking, or something.   When he was done, he said two or three words to the crowd, and climbed down from his perch and walked off.  That was it.

The biggest reaction from the crowd was when he played one of his last songs, “Master of Puppets” by Metallica.  The crowd perked up for that, but it was because of the song.

There was a quote in the pre-tour press saying that “Black Sabbath hand selected Andrew WK to fill this slot”.  I find that extremely hard to believe.  Now it’s known I work for a few guys in the band, and I have connections with managers and all that, but I honestly don’t know who picked him.   Black Sabbath on what is probably their last US tour together really deserved better than that.

Especially when Australia/NZ got a real band, and South America is getting Megadeth.  We get this.  This was quite honestly an embarrassment.

Black Sabbath

IMG_4681

Black Sabbath On Stage

So basically after WK got off, the crowd filed in a bit more in prep for Sabbath.  Per the schedule I saw backstage, there was only a 15 minute break inbetween.  Which is not a surprise, because all WK had was that podium.  Didn’t have a full band gear to tear down.   Somewhere during that teardown the big black curtain came down and covered the stage.  This allowed the crew to prep the stage.  In this day and age, I’d say most people going to see this had seen the stage set from other gigs earlier on the tour, but still.

With about minute or so to go before Sabbath went on, we got a traditional Ozzy-ism™ – which is him grabbing a mike before the house lights go down and make some sort of noise, or shout or something.   That happened here, too.   When the lights went down, there was no intro.  No Supertzar, no Avi Satani, no E5150 (hahaha), or no samples of other Sabbath songs.  They just started right in with the sirens of War Pigs.   The red lights were going before the curtain went up, it was a cool looking effect.   I’ve seen some reviews that talk about their thoughts on every single song played.  I’m not going to do that, because let’s face it.  If you are reading this, then you know the songs, I don’t need to educate you about the individual tracks.  This review is about my experience at the show.   I’ll have some comments in general, but before I get to that, here’s the set list..

SET LIST

  1. War Pigs
  2. Into the Void
  3. Under the Sun (with new video, designed to offend)
  4. Snowblind
  5. Age of Reason
  6. Black Sabbath (some cool lighting effects)
  7. Behind the Wall of Sleep
  8. Basically / N.I.B.
  9. End of the Beginning
  10. Fairies Wear Boots (with new, very strange video)
  11. Methademic
  12. Rat Salad / Drum Solo
  13. Iron Man
  14. God is Dead?
  15. Dirty Women (with new video, mostly of strippers/dancers)
  16. Children of the Grave
  17. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Intro / Paranoid  (Encore)

Ozzy

OzzyTo sum up the entire concert, it was a hell of a lot of fun.  I’ve seen Black Sabbath many times over the years, going back to 1983.  Have seen many singers, including Ian Gillan, Ray Gillen, Tony Martin, Ronnie James Dio, & Ozzy Osbourne.   If there’s been one knock on Ozzy over recent vintage, is that his off nights are somewhat more frequent than others.  It might explain why I was asked on twitter about half a dozen times “How does Ozzy sound” during the show.  It’s a question I see posted at every gig.  I saw him a few years ago on his Scream tour, and he mostly did the job well, then so on the whole, I was hopeful he’d keep it together this tour.   His vocals on the 13 album are quite nice, but of course, one always worries about how it would translate on stage.   I think we all know he can do Iron Man, War Pigs, & Paranoid well.  But how he handled Methademic, Age of Reason, and God is Dead? is a big unknown.  I saw the bootlegs coming out of the Australian set, and it was what I expected.  Some good, some not so good – that’s to be expected with ANYONE, really.  Then the US tour started.  I watched the videos coming out of Houston, and if there was one thing I picked up is that Ozzy seemed mostly out of tune.  But it was consistently out of tune, so it’s not like his voice was all over the place.  It seemed like a monitor problem in Houston.

So we get to night two in Austin, and one would assume that would be fixed.  It appeared it mostly was, because (and here’s the bit everyone seems to want to know about) Ozzy seemed fine in Austin!  Standing there in the second row, he seemed like he was doing fine.  He was still having a problem with monitors it seems, as on a few songs, he kept gesturing to someone off stage, presumably about some adjustment to his monitors.  It even happened once when Oz was actively singing, which was a weird look.    Oz kept it together vocally except for two songs that I thought were “off”.  Unfortunately they were both new songs, that being “Age of Reason” & “Methademic”.   Now I love Methademic.  It’s an awesome song, and I knew from the OZ tapes that he was having issues.   It would not surprise me if that song is removed from the set before too long.   As any fan of Sabbath knows, the set list at the end of the tour is usually shorter than it is at the beginning of the tour.   But for this show, Ozzy’s voice held up really well, given the realities of a live Black Sabbath performance in 2013.   So thumbs up from me for that issue.  But, your mileage may vary.  It all depends on how he’s doing on any particular night, I’m sure.

His live stage persona definitely looks like a 64 year old dude, though.  His long tradition of leapfrogs was gone this night, and he mostly just walked back and forth on the stage.  All good, though.  Just don’t expect all the running and leaping, he’s not 25 anymore.  :) All his usual Ozzy-isms™ are in full force.   Those being “I can’t fuckin’ hear you”, and “We’ll do one more song if you go extra extra extra fuckin’ crazy”, “We love you all”, throwing the water bucket into the audience….   But you know, despite everything one might say about Ozzy, it still came off well live for me.  I enjoyed it!

One nice thing at the end, he got down on his hands and knees and pretty much kowtowed to the audience, which was a nice touch, I thought.   Overall, it was still cool seeing him up there, and pulling it off so well!

Tony

Tony IommiTony Iommi is Tony Iommi.   As Ozzy has been saying during all the live gigs since Tony’s cancer treatments, “He is Iron Man”.   We’ve all seen the videos of Tony as he progressed through the recording of 13 with little to no hair, and wearing a hat.  Chemo does that shit to you.  He was wearing a wig for awhile there, but he’s not now.  He looks GOOD.  If you didn’t know he had gone through cancer, you couldn’t have known that from last night.  Tony has never been a guy who runs around the stage or anything, but if you’ve seen enough live video of him, you know what he does on stage.  It all seemed normal, and he looked great, his hair having fully grown back it seems.

He played from a few guitars during the night, and one in particular looked rather old and beat up.  I couldn’t get a good pic of it as he was too far away from me.  It was a good look for him, both personally and with his beat up looking guitar.   I kind of like that over a brand new pristine looking axe.  Plus several times on the giant video screens he was projected up there, and it made him look “larger than life”.  I titled one of my pics “Tony Towers Over it All” – go look in the gallery.

I didn’t get much in the way of good shots of Tony, because I was on Geezer’s side of the stage, and Tony was too far away for my iPhone 4S to get a great closeup of him.

There’s not much else to say here, because he just kicked all kinds of ass like normal.   Tony was his usual consistent self on stage.

Geezer

Double Geezer

Double Geezer

Geezer Butler is Geezer Butler.  Despite being in one of the most well known bands of all time, I’ll argue he’s one of the most underrated bassists of all time.  Since my seats were in the second row, I had a point blank view of watching him play, and just focused on his fingers for a few songs.  Makes me realize how feeble my attempts at playing the guitar have been over the years.  I also had a closeup like that with him once before.  Cross Purposes tour in Dallas, I was up front of the stage in front of him.   He’s just as good in 2013 as he was in 1994, as he was in f’in 1970.   Like Ian Hill in Judas Priest, he just kind of anchors the thing.   Not flashy, not in your face, but man, he can kick your ass.

His playing of “Basically” before N.I.B. was badass, and in my opinion too short.  That should be extended into a full fledged solo by Geezer.  I’d love to see that, as I’m sure everyone else there would.  When he did play that “Basically” intro, I got the “Double Geezer” picture shown here, and was my favorite I took of the night.

There’s not much else to say here, because he just kicked all kinds of ass like normal.   Geezer was his usual consistent self on stage.

Tommy

Tommy Clufetos is not Bill Ward.  Or any of the other drummers who have played in Black Sabbath (Appice, Bevan, Singer, Chimes, Powell, Rondinelli, Bordin, Larkin, or Wilk).  If there’s one thing that I’m seeing over and over again online is that Tommy Clufetos sucks.  I cannot agree with that.  What he is not is Bill Ward.  What he is is a good metal drummer.   I don’t think there’s a Sabbath fan out there who wouldn’t have liked to have seen Bill Ward up there, but he isn’t there.  The reasons why are up to the band.   We don’t get to pick that, it’s not our band to dictate events for (fortunately, based on what I’ve seen some fans say).

The biggest complaints I see against Tommy is that a) He’s not Bill Ward, and b) He doesn’t play like Bill Ward – usually mentioning his “fills”.  You know what, I reject that.  He’s not Bill Ward.  Big fucking duh.  He’s not going to play exactly like Bill Ward would have, he plays like Tommy Clufetos does, and if any of you who are bitching about him think you can do better, get up there and do it.   I’m sick and tired of all the fucking whining I see online about this subject.

There is nothing wrong with Tommy’s drumming, and I had no problems with his playing at all.   He played the right parts when he had to, and while sure one could make the point that his “fills” are different, that will happen with anyone.   I never saw all this hatred towards any of the other guys who played with Sabbath, so I reject it here.   I didn’t have any problems with Brad Wilk’s drumming on the 13 album.  I don’t have any problems with Clufetos’ drumming on the 13 live shows.

I’ll probably take some heat for this too, but I’ll reject that too.  It is what it is.  No amount of internet bitching will change it, so don’t be so darned angry and enjoy the show if you go.  As my friend Paul who went with me said, “If Tommy is good enough for Tony & Geezer, then he’s good enough for me”.  This makes it seem like I’m “meh” to his playing.  I’m not.  He pounded it the whole night – and had a strong solo, I’m just so miffed at the Anti-Clufetos crowd that it tends to dominate my thoughts too much.  Not fair to Tommy, I suppose.

I also could not get a good individual pic of him drumming.  Every time I tried that, the lights washed out my camera, the only shots I have of him my himself are bathed in light to the point where you can’t even see him.

Adam

Computer Control AreaAdam was not even on the side of the stage.  He told me he’s behind the entire set this time around, really REALLY in the background.  He still plays rhythm guitar with Tony, and of course does keyboards.   Most of Adam’s stuff is to help create the overall “wall of sound”, he doesn’t get much of a chance to shine in this situation.  The only place I really felt his keyboard presence was towards the end of “Dirty Women”.  But then the Technical Ecstasy album had an overall keyboard influence anyway, so that shouldn’t be a surprise (Hello there, Mr. Woodruffe).

While Adam was not running this board, my friend Paul did take this picture of the video control area for the lights, the video screens, and all that.  Shame it wasn’t on so we could see it in action, but there’s a computer tech in charge of all this.  :)

Nice lighting for the song Black Sabbath

Nice lighting for the song Black Sabbath

Random Thoughts

Some random less structured comments about the night.

  • I didn’t time the show, but I believe that it clocked in at about one hour and 50 minutes, which is long for a Sabbath concert of recent vintage.  Much better than the usual 90 minute shows we are used to getting.   Did anyone at the Austin show actually time it?  Let me know.
  • I cannot say how much I enjoyed this show.  A big thanks to my friend Paul for getting me down here.  I likely would have skipped it due to my general laziness at not wanting to drive four hours to a concert.  Had fun on the drive down/up.  The backstage stuff was killer, so thanks to Gloria, Heather, & Pedro for making that all happen.
  • I liked the “rock effect” with the video screens.  The video screens themselves had a “rock” feeling to them, and they were quite large.  In Austin, the top of it filled up the entire height of the stage area.   In places it reminded me a little of the stage set for the Seventh Star tour.  Not a lot, but in the rock motif mostly.
  • The light show was quite nice.  It wasn’t just “turn on the lights’, and that’s it.  There was some effect and mood set with well done lights, I thought.  Nice thumbs up for that!
  • The show itself was pretty high up on my list of Sabbath concerts, especially the ones I’ve seen with Ozzy.  Had a decent set list, given the realities of Ozzy’s live singing range (remember boys & girls, you’re never hearing anything from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath & Sabotage live ever again with vocals) as well as bringing in songs from the new album.  With Ozzy fronted Black Sabbath, you know you’re getting Iron Man / War Pigs / Paranoid and that lot – it’s the other songs that will dictate how one feels about the set list.  I very much enjoyed the set list.
  • I really enjoyed the new songs live.  Even the ones that Ozzy struggled with.   The new songs have some nice timechanges, and it was all handled quite well live.
  • Why does Geezer Butler have picks made up for himself if he doesn’t play with them?  Just to throw into the crowd?
  • Take a leak before you go to this venue and need to hang around outside.   There’s nothing outside if you’re hanging outside for awhile.  Worse if you’re a girl I suspect.  :)
Black Sabbath - photo by G. Paul May.

Black Sabbath – photo by G. Paul May.

Future?

Is this the last tour that Black Sabbath will play?   My gut feels that it is.  Oh sure, there’s random talk about Ozzy about he would like Bill Ward to be there if they do another one.  I think everyone thinks that.  But in 2013, it’s nothing more than wishful thinking.  If anyone translates random interview quotes NOW into what will be the gospel word on future activities, you’re setting yourself up for a disappointment.

In driving home from this concert, Paul and I had a discussion about this, and it’s my opinion that they’ve done this “We better do this now or it will never get done”.  OK, that’s happened.  When Sabbath got together properly with Bill Ward in late 1997, interest was high, and then it waned as time went on.  That kind of thing will eventually happen here if they attempt to keep this going going forward.   If you assume they tour the rest of 2013 for the 13 album, take some time off in 2014, do some writing in the latter half of 2014, and perhaps record again in early 2015, we’re looking at what, latter 2015 before another album would come out?   That assumes any number of things.  Not the least of which is their ages around that time, which will be 66 (Geezer), 67 (Tony), 66 (Ozzy),  35 (Clufetos – he’s a baby), 41 (Wakeman), or 46 (Wilk).   Then there’s the big question mark with all that, Bill Ward.  Bill would be 67, an age that is getting up there for a metal drummer.  Their ages will become an issue at some point, but right NOW in 2013 we have a new album, and an active tour.

What’s my point in saying this?  If you get the chance to see this tour, go.  It might be your last chance.  I think it is.

Having said all that, if there is a “14″ album at some point, I’d like for it to be Bill Ward.  Nothing against Wilk or Clufetos (or anyone else), but I really would like to see Bill there to close out the band’s life.

Thanks for reading, and if you want to check out my full photo gallery from the concert, you can do so on either Facebook or Google+

P.S.  It’s not Brad Wilk playing live.  It’s not Toni Iommi either (that’s his daughter’s name).  I’ve seen a few professional newspapers botch their “reviews” with these facts.  Makes me wonder if they actually had someone at the show, or are just ghost writing from surfing twitter & Instagram.  It wouldn’t be the first time that kind of thing has happened.

P.P.S.  I saw this really good text from Sabbath fan James Farrell on my Facebook Fan Page.  He said this about the concert.  I can’t agree more.

“Ah Ozzy has always been who he is Live. And in his 60′s he is not going to be on top of his game. When when I saw him during the No More Tears tour he had issues with tone. I am there to support the band I love and grew up listening to. This is a life time Bucket list event for me. Chances of ever seeing Black Sabbath again will only be a dream of mine. I will be in Boston arms raised high screaming and having a good time. Ozzy is the man. Geezer is a master. And Tony is a metal Genius on the Guitar. bring it good or bad…..Peace”

Right after the final bow.

Right after the final bow.

If you look carefully at this video, there’s a dude right in front of Geezer with a white Cowboy hat.  You can see the same guy in one of my pics up above.  I was right behind him.  That’s where I was.  :)

Comments

  1. Adam Alexander says:

    Great review! As always, your love for the band is apparent and I’m glad you enjoyed the show. Also seems like a great setlist of classics and 13 tracks.

    But for me, personally, I can’t get past the condition of Ozzy’s performance. As a musician and singer myself, it’s too distracting and depressing, and I worry it would sully my great love of Sabbath to hear them this way. I saw them at their last Ozzfest with the full original line-up, and between that show and 13, that’s good enough for this life-long Sabbath fan.

    • Ray Hudson says:

      Just watched the video of War Pigs posted on this site. How f’n awesome…..can’t wait to see Sabbath this Tuesday in Detroit. All you pussies bitching about Ozzy need to get a life. The band sounds great….from a life long Sabbath fan.

  2. TomOzzy123 says:

    Nice piece of writing, Joe. I feel the same way you do about the entire band, new album, drummers, and tour. I been a Sabbath fan since 1977, and I have seen off nights for all of their singers, especially Ozzy. However, the best concert I ever went to was in Cleveland in 1999. Ozzy was sicker than a dog, but he still kicked major ass. That whole show was electrifying and extra special. I acted like a kid who got everything he wanted for Christmas with my head banging and fist pumping. I see all kinds of critisms on this tour, and I say to those people–get a life!!! If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all!!. Life’s too short to hate and expect perfection. Joe, you and I are the same age and have emailed each other a few times, and I have never seen so many perfectionists or so-called Sabbath fans. Sabbath is not about perfection, it’s about anger, raw power, a voice for the voiceless, and the working class. They are legends, and the most influential band in heavy rock. Iommi influenced me to play guitar professionally. That’s a huge achievement. They have nothing to prove anymore, especially to me. They’ve done it all.

  3. Hi Joe… Very nice review of your Sabbath Day! I am leaving Rochester, NY headed to Bristow, VA (6.5 hour drive) Friday to see this show, and I’m doing it solo since the wife and friends either cannot, or will not, go with me. I’m doing it namely for two reasons you point out… First, I’m with you, I believe this will be it (hope I’m wrong, but…). These guys have played hard over the years and have a lot of mileage on their bodies… look at Ozzy’s vocals/stage presence and try to imagine that in 2-3 years. I love him/them, but that will be tough to overcome.

    My second reason for going is because this band has played a huge roll in my 48 years of life… from my troubled teen years in the late 70s, early 80s… through my marriage in 95 (Fluff played at the ceremony… mom and grandma had no idea they were listening to Black Sabbath ;^), right on through to my daughter loving Iron Man whenever it came on… starting when she was only 3! My point is, to me, Sabbath has been (and will always be) more than just a band, they are part of the musical soundtrack that makes up my life! Listening to 13, I can’t help but hear them acknowledge their end has come (Opening with “End of the Beginning”… or Beginning of the End), then the songs that are an acknowledgement to their past… the lyrics “I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live forever”, etc… to me it seems a poetic curtain call, their album encore. I want to be there for a part of that curtain call… do I want better Ozzy vocals, Bill Ward, more obscure songs, etc? Yes, I absolutely do… but I understand that is not possible, so I’ll take what I can get! It may be a step, or two, down from the perfect Black Sabbath reunion but to me it’s a (likely) closure to a big piece of my life and I wouldn’t miss it for the world… one last hurrah with one of my favorite bands ever… so for me, as I sit 13th row center (selected that row purposely %^) I will have no regrets that I drove almost 400 miles to hear a band whose best years are behind them because like I will love my wife when she’s 90 as much (if not more) than when she was 19… Sabbath is not something I used in order to get what I wanted, but like a friend who I’d always be there for… like their music was for me!

    Peace,
    Sean

  4. Serenity says:

    I’m sorry Joe, but I can’t agree with the assessment of Ozzy. I saw Sabbath at Download 2005 (I think), and he was awful then, too. Every clip I’ve seen of the recent tour have been…useless, to be frank. There seem to be almost ‘blinkers’ on when comes to these performances, and pretty much all of them since the ‘reunion’ in the 90′s.

    In fairness, it shows a great love by the fans that they are willing to overlook these fiascos with the usual ‘Ozzy is God’ and ‘it’s all about the performance’ shtick. The truth is, it’s not. When you see a band play live, you expect, at least, for the singer to sound in key. If you went to a pub to see a local band and the singer was as badly off as Ozzy constantly is, you’d leave, or beg the landlord to put the jukebox on. Or throw something. The band are flawless, and the sole reason for the atmosphere. Lobbing buckets of water about and swearing should, in real life, be the domain of a drunken clown at the circus. I like Ozzy. I’ve loved his solo albums for over twenty years, and he is a really funny guy.

    Black Sabbath are pretty much responsible for the music we listen to, and they can’t be thanked enough for that – but it’s time to accept that the glory days are FAR behind them. Yes, Ozzy is great on ’13′, but how many takes did that require? How much production?

    Axl Rose gives an equally poor performance on a regular basis, yet he is crucified for it.

    Not to stoke the tired, pointless Ozzy vs Dio debate, but being 64 hardly serves as an excuse for being dreadful live. Dio managed quite well.

    Thanks for the legacy, but in my opinion either shape up or hang up….

    • Ok, then why do you watch anything in regards to the band if that is how you feel.? You must be in the minority because there are a hell of a lot of people going to the shows. You can’t compare Ozzy to Dio. First off Ozzy was never a great singer his voice fit the band’s music and is very distinctive. Dio was a little man with a giant voice also very distinctive and a great front man. Also, Dio’s voice was good but not as strong as it was when he was a young man. They are two completely different types of singers so you can’t compare his voice to Dio’s at 64. People are going to see Black Sabbath and not just Ozzy. This may be the last time we get to see them live. I really don’t see the need to tear Ozzy down…calling him a drunken clown at a circus? Really? Swearing and throwing buckets of water has been a thing of his for a long time. These guys are in the business to make music and make a living. They put on a great show and I am going to see them tonight in NJ. Whether or no Ozzy can bring it to the table tonight with his vocals I will have to see but quite honestly I don’t care. Didn’t you tear Bill Ward down too in another post? Maybe it’s time to find another band to follow?

      • “Maybe it’s time to find another band to follow?”
        Well stated Bob.
        I always think the same thing – there are plenty of other virtuoso, egomaniacs who so desperately need fans to worship their every note like its a gifted fart from God. There’s plenty of room in the pews at their church!
        At our “Sabbath” – we don’t dis the pastor or leave the church because the sermon was a little weak.

        Glad you had a blast in NJ – Looks like I’m returning to my 3rd service next Friday in Chicago!

        HAIL SABBATH!!!

        • Can I get an amen brotha! Sabbath will never (say) die!

          • How ’bout an OMEN?
            SPEAK OF THE DEVIL – Before my lady and I flew out to Austin for the show we watched Omen 1 + 2 , a great way to prep for a Sabbath event. We watched about 666,000 bats fly out from under Congress St. bridge at sunset on Sunday and when we got back – Omen 3.
            I’ll be DAMNED that was the BEAST weekend ever!!!

            “ALL YOU CHILDREN OF TODAY ARE CHILDREN OF THE GRAVE -YEAH!!!”

          • Saw them in Philly bro and it was awsome! So I got to see them twice this tour and haven’t been disappointed…awesome gigs. Hope you had a great time in Austin.

      • Or maybe I’m just honest enough to admit that rubbish is is rubbish? The album was good, thanks to production, autotune, and a billion takes. Iommi and Butler live are on fire, as usual. The drummer isn’t bad either (Tommy and such). The truth is, there will always be apologists (ozzy had a cold, ozzy’s foot hurt, ozzy didn’t have a good breakfast, ozzy was never a singer (???) etc) but the truth is ozzy live, now, is a useless swearing clown.And has been for at least a decade. He doesn’t even try to sound in tune, because he knows people will pay for it, irrespective. Imagine if Iommi’s guitar was out of tune? Or Geezer’s bass? Find a new band to follow? Maybe I’ll just follow the same band as I always have with honesty. What was, was. What is, is frighteningly bad. At our sermon, we don’t ‘dis da pastor’?

        They’re in this to make a living? If a plumber turned up at my house and did a dreadful job, would I pay him? No. But hey, it’s Ozzy. forgive and forget. Mediocrity is ok?

        • Again, you are in the minority. Sold out shows just show that the fans are forgiving for Ozzy’s voice the way it is. Who is aplogizing for anything? I saw them twice on this tour and was his voice great , no, but it was good and for a guy his age and what he put his body through over the years, yes and he gave 100% of himself to the fans. The band is putting on a hell of a show. The fans respect that and they come back for more. You are just throwing things out there what if this, what if that…well, what if? Who cares except you and a few other people. Have you seen them on this tour? My guess is no. And yeah, they are in it to make a living. That is what they do. Your job apparently is to tear them down and you get to do it for free. Let me tell you, if I was a plumber coming to do a job at your house, just your attitude alone I would leave. Your posts are babble. You tore Bill Ward apart and now you tar this guy down. Again, maybe you should listen to another band so you get many years of fresh, good sounding material with a singer you can just consider to be the real deal. “What is , is frightenly bad”??? LOL..really, it scares you? How bad could it be to have a #1 album and thousands at every show. Get real and just appreciate what the band has left to give and if you can’t then go hang with Nickelback.

        • The point is that Ozzy has neverrrrrrrrrrrrr been a good vocalist. That’s all…
          Forgive me, it is just my very humble opinion…!!!

          Peace!!!

    • robert stanford cam says:

      And Tony can manage too, even undergoing cancer treatment….

    • Couldn’t agree more with you serenity. I was very dissapointed hearing the recordings of Austin as Ozzy is out of tune the whole time, not only the new songs but classics such as snowblind. I still think it could be a technical problem. Not hearing yourself makes the singer has a very tough time onstage. I saw ozzy in spain 6 years ago and he did ok. Hopefully it will improve in future dates

      david

      • Well he brought his A game in NJ…Ozzy did a great job…he wasn’t perfect but he was really damned good as was the rest of the band.

      • David,
        Do you know the reason why they had never recorded a live album with Ozzy during the Seventies…. Because he was always out of tune… I have already listened to Tony, Geezer and Bill saying this hundreds of times… We have Live at Last, which is, in my opinion, one of the worst live albums I have listened to…. The problem is that Ozzy has never had such a nice voice… He is just a show man…
        very well managered by his very competent wife….

        Peace…!!!

  5. Jan Ritchie says:

    Hi Joe,
    Thank you so much for this very factual review, I am waiting to see then at the end of the tour in there home town Birmingham. I totally agree with you regarding Bill and Tommy. Yes might get another album possibly.
    As for another tour with Bill Ward, i dont think so either. Brilliant Job Joe,, your video and pictures are Excellent. Thank You once again for sharing your thoughts. Jan x

  6. Rick Schock says:

    My wifwe and I went to the Sabbath show last night in Tampa. Having seen them a few times, most recently at an Ozzfest show, I have to say this was the best show ever. People need to stop lamenting over Bill’s absence or Ozzy’s sometimes inconsistent performance and just go have fun. Tony was brilliant, as were Ozzy and Geezer. Ozzy’s voice may indeed falter before tour’s end, we know that, but last night he was right on. If you want everything perfect stay home and listen to the recorded and mixed music. If you want to hear the Masters at work, go see the 13 tour. Enjoy Tommy’s awesome solo and powerful strokes – Sabbath is lucky to have him. As Rick Rubin wanted, the new material is extraordinary. One last thought. If you are an Ozzy fan, don’t go. This is about Sabbath and a celebration of their brilliant body of work. You will not hear Crazy Train. Instead, you will get the real deal!

    • Paul Hudson says:

      i’m with you, i wish everyone would stop bitchin’ and enjoy what could be the last ever Sabbath tour. They’ve been doing this for 40 odd years just be thankful you can say, I seen Black Sabbath with Ozzy!!! roll on 18th December in England.

    • “People need to stop lamenting over Bill’s absence or Ozzy’s sometimes inconsistent performance and just go have fun.”

      I completely agree with this statement! I had a blast at this show. Yes, Ozzy doesn’t sound like he did in the 1970s…but was he really ever on key in concert? It doesn’t really matter since this is heavy duty rock and roll…not prog rock. The vibe is supposed to be a bit raw, have a few missed notes, etc. That’s what makes it rock n’ roll. Not the most technically brilliant show I’ve ever seen, but it was certainly a blast.

      • I saw them tonight in NJ and it was damn awesome! The place was packed solid and it looked like the entire crowd was digging the show.

  7. paul cropper says:

    A very good and fair review,been a sabbath fan since 1975.First seen them live in 1978(twice)1980&2001,hope to see them again before i die.long live black sabbath.

  8. Thanks for the update and the insight Joe. Can’t agree with you more. I’ll be going to the NJ and CT shows next week.

    ps…btw…i thought Geezer used a pick to strum the bass line at ending jam on Iron Man

  9. Chris Alexander says:

    Much appreciated insight. I was especially anxious/curious about how the whole Andrew WK scene played out. What you reported was my worst case scenario in my imagination.
    I was hoping to hear that he did some clever mash-ups and rarities that would elicit some “oh yeah, I forgot all about this band or song” reactions from the audience. Or maybe a chronological aural history of hard rock/metal.
    Just now had the thought, they may have done well to have Eddie Trunk do a DJ set, if anyone!
    Well, moving on, I wholeheartedly agree with the whole drummer drama. I respect the integrity of the original members, it has never disappointed me. That is part of the reason I’m a dedicated fan. They are class musicians in their genre, as you stated, and I don’t question their choice of drummers anymore than I would question their choice of instruments and gear.
    As I’ve stated before, unlike another classic band I love has done, at least they don’t dress someone up to look like Bill Ward, ahem. ;)
    I have no problem hearing Ozzy’s vocal performance with forgiving ears, his is a voice that has been endeared to me & it will always be so, warts and all, in or out of tune. Personally, sincerity has always trumped technicality. That’s an admittedly minority opinion in metal, more in line with punk rock ethos, but that’s my corner and I’m staying in it.
    On the other side of that coin, Tony and Geezers asskick-ness comes as no surprise, it speaks for itself. Of course they did. Enough said.
    Overall, I’m pleased to hear my experience stands a good chance of being awesome.
    Even more excited for San Francisco Aug. 26th.
    Thanks, Joe, for a real review from a real Sabbath fan!

  10. Robert Stanford Cam says:

    I just can’t understand why they didnt’t use Supertzar as a opener…

    Peace and Love…!!!!

  11. Robert Stanford Cam says:

    As an opener band, Candlemass would be perfect…. or Angel Witch or while Angels Wept and many other bands whose sound fist Sabbath or even Uriah Heep….

    Peace and Love….!!!

  12. JOE – YOU NAILED IT BIG TIME!!!
    I came down from Chicago to experience this show cause -
    1. Texas crowds really know how to fuckin’ rock!
    2. I wanted them to go to 11 and indoors is the way to achieve that volume.
    3.I figured Sabbaths’ energy would be high and set list longest early into the tour.
    4.I love the “13″ lp and I just couldn’t wait any longer.
    5.This seemed like a more intimate venue – like the shows we used to see in the 80s.
    6.Wanted a memory that will last a lifetime – I think I scored on that one!

    Thanx for the rewind of an awesome show! I hope this gig gets an official band DVD release cause it really was high on the bar and the crowd was so stoked!!!

  13. Paul Hudson says:

    That was an honest and frank review, thanx. I’ve been a Sabbs fan since 1972 and (whatever video i see anywhere) will be at Manchester, England on the 18th December to show my support for the greatest Rock band that ever existed. Since the 1960′s Black Sabbath have given their all on stage, yes we’ve all heard about the excesses of success but you can not say Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill and all later members, did not put fans first. Every time Ozzy gets on stage (in Sabbath or solo) he gives 100% good or bad because our enjoyment as fans is so important to him. So i think it’s time we say thank you to Black Sabbath (in all it’s different periods and members) and really show them that we support them. I’m sure some of you reading this are like me and have had Black Sabbath’s music as the soundtrack to your life. All the ups and downs have been made better by a Sabbath tune or two be it from ‘Black Sabbath’ (1970) through to ’13′ (2013). So on 18th December 2013 in Manchester, England, i will be jumping, and singing along and showing Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and even Bill that i THANK them for all their sacrifices and efforts over 45+ years and for the best F***in’ music ever created. This could be the LAST Black Sabbath tour ever so just enjoy the fact that you were there. Thank you Black Sabbath…

    • Michael Thomas says:

      This is a right-on heartfelt thought from somebody in my generation. We were there in the beginning to support the best band of this style that will ever exist. The younger fans need to learn some “class” and stop crapping on Ozzy or any other member. I know certainly it takes a person with a great deal of heart, taste, and guts to even entertain stepping in for any of these great musicians. If the young ones will pay attention to older film and video of Bill playing, then review vids of Tommy, you’ll see their abilities are quite similar in that they must play for absolute power and style. Give em all a break, thank God, and the members for all that is, was, and will be Black Sabbath. All the emotion, the vicious raw power, and unbridled excitement they’ve given can never be equaled. Be grateful we’ve had them at all because had everything not fallen into place exactly as it has… I can’t imagine my life without them.

      Thank you so much to Joe for his untouchable and unbelievable website. It is perfect and as an audience you must appreciate his work and love of Sabbath. Don’t take this for granted.

      Cheers!

  14. Paolo Molinari says:

    To me, they just have to make a couple more albums without touring at all: no fatigues, no stress, just creativity (Tony’s own is virtually endless)… Ending with 13 would be both a triumph AND a shame at the same time, ’cause it showed how they are still dedicated to their name as ever… Of course, Bill should be back in no time, he never had problems recording albums, after all (er… sorry Ozzy ^_^).
    The big question on the other hand is: do they INTEND to continue making albums or is 13 meant to be’ their epitaph from the start? Only time will tell…
    GOD IS DEAD? NO, HE’S ALIVE AND WELL: HE GAVE US SABBATH B(L)ACK!!!

  15. DR Dave says:

    Thanks Joe!!! Two more days , can not wait. SABBATH! SABBATH! SABBATH!

  16. Rangemaster says:

    Joe,
    Thanks for spending your time for us. It’s rare to have backstage insight from a reliable source. I am curious though with Sharon Osbourne. Why didn’t you just introduce yourself and tell her what you do? Were you worried what she might have done/said? I think many times if you just treat people with respect and professionalism they will respond in a positive way. I bet she would have been happy to meet you. You’ve done nothing but good for this band.

  17. Thanks for the review Joe and glad you feel they should drop Methademic as well. The DJ warmup is pretty crappy and I can’t help but think the promoters/management is trying to do everything on the cheap unfortunately. The VIP items were weak especially directly compared to what we got from Rush’s last tour. And, as I said before, the merch was less than underwhelming and of lower quality.

  18. It makes sense to me to have Andrew WK as the opening act. Why have a big name opening for Sabbath and split the profits when Sabbath can fill the venues on their own power? With Andrew WK they can just give him a few bucks and leave the rest for the main act.

    Thanks for the review! I’m glad you went to the show, had a good time, and shared the summary with us.

  19. Jeff Downing says:

    Going to a show is always so different than watching the Youtube clips and critiquing performances and stage show etc… I am glad you had obviously had reasonable expectations and had a good time.
    At this point people should know what they are getting and not be complaining that Oz should hang it up.
    We all know that (ha) but it doesnt mean the show can’t be a great time.

    Thank you most of all for speaking your mind about the people that just bitch on and on and on…about the Bill Ward situation. You probably seen my response several times on this site! It didnt work out, and likely for a lot more reasons than just contractual… anyway can Bill Ward be Bill Ward in 2013 , having been inactive so long and with a history of health and dependability issues? Who knows…but people just have to stop speculating and just enjoy the more than competent and in my opinion quite good performances of Tommy Clufetos and Brad Wilke. Glad it was a fun show, and I almost made that one myself but had a gravely ill kitty cat thwart my plans…. and so I stayed in Dallas to care for him.

  20. Jersey Al says:

    How long is the DJ on for?

    • 40 minutes or so. If you look at my review I took a picture of the backstage schedule sign that was posted all over the place. :)

  21. Toby Wilfong says:

    Spot-on, brother! Lifelong Sabbath fan here.
    Just saw the Bristow show last night and it was incredible!
    I also noticed the problems with Ozzys tone. I wonder if he’s struggling with Oxycontin (noticed it shown on one of the screen films) . That stuff messes up your hearing. Lol
    Anyway, I couldnt help but feeling I was witnessing Hall of Fame immortal Jurrassic rock in action!
    It was great and all members performed to their best!
    Also, while i would have loved to see Bill Ward, I heard many fans saying Tommy Clufestos played the best drums they ever saw! His solo was mindbending! Every Sabbath fan I talked to was like a childhood fan. Theres a lot to be said for the communal experience we have all had with this band.
    All in all, worth every dime and i’d recommend anyone roadtrip it to the nearest show before our heroes fade into the abyss!! No one does it like Sabbath.

  22. Hi Joe from Lima, Peru, South America… thanx for your review of a full time “sabbath” day… we’re waiting anxiously their coming to Lima on October 16th as its scheduled… we’re lucky to have Megadeth as an opener instead of a DJ, but on the other hand that made the tickets expensive for fans, you’ll understand that Megadeth isn’t playing for free, their fees per show must be paid… I don’t care about the complaints that Ozzy’s singing is off-key sometimes, that happens since Paris 1970; but what is awesome is that he gives 100% in his performance, unlike other “cool” singers that technically may be superior, but don’t perform from the heart as Ozzy… I saw him as solo twice in Rock In Rio Festival in 1985 in Brazil (was in front rows!) and again in Lima in 2011, so I can speak with “knowledge of cause” as we say here… it’s a pity Bill ain’t playing with the band, but Tommy is good at it (saw him with Ozzy in 2011, as well as Adam); playing Rat Salad is paying tribute to Bill indeed… and I agree with you, I sense this is the first (for me and a lot of Peruvian fans here) and last chance to watch Black Sabbath in action, so even the tickets aren’t a bargain most fans are “sacrificing” anything to have one in their hands; the mere thought of seeing Ozzy, Geezer and Tony playing together, it just makes it all worthy. Cheers for BLACK SABBATH!

  23. robert stanford cam says:

    Hello Joe,
    Great review…

    Peace and Love…!!!

  24. Chad Hallman says:

    I have been a fan for 36 years & have heard Ozzy sing bad and damned good even being bombed on booze & or high. But never this bad. So why is he singing like this now? Maybe Geezer & Tony can tune down more to match Ozzy’s vocals? I don’t know? Ozzy can sing the old stuff, well most of it pretty good from I have recently heard & maybe one or 2 of the new ones they’re doing, but what is going on with him.? I will be there in support as always for the whole band. Not knocking that he sounds pretty bad singing, just concerned and want to know what’s up with him & why can’t something be done to help him? Like tune down more or something.
    Will be seeing them in Philadelphia, PA. This Saturday August 10th, 2013. !

  25. Saw the band tonight in NJ to a packed venue. i don’t think I have seen the PNC Arts Center as full as I did tonight. Awesome show! Ozzy’s voice was a little iffy in parts but who cares because that guy flat out had energy throughout the show. The band was awesome and Iommi and Geezer were spot on. And props to Tommy Clufetos…he pounded those skins and did a hell of a drum solo. The setlist was the same as the previous shows.

    • Ozzy was flawless in Indianapolis! Honestly, he wasn’t out of tune all night and his voice didn’t crack once. Excellent show! My guess is, with age, it takes longer for the voice to get “whipped into shape,” but many folks aren’t that logical.Nevertheless, my assertion may explain why his voice has been steadily improving as each show passes.

  26. Great review – thanks Joe for your tremendous work on this site and Facebook.

    I am glad they started the tour Down Under. At Sydney, Ozzy was great except for Electric Funeral – could not get the pitch right! Otherwise it was vintage sabbath except I reckon Tony and Geezer are better than ever (as they were with H&H).
    A friend gave me a great audio of the concert and I recently bought a fan filmed DVD as a momento of possibly the last time we will see them.

    I agree that while Tommy is no Bill or even Vinnie, he did a great job.

    Cheers

  27. Don Rhoades says:

    Great review Joe!
    Been a Sabbath fan since 1972. Black Sabbath and Deep Purple were the first two heavy rock bands that I got into. The wife and I are in Kentucky and will be attending the Noblesville, Indiana show August 18. We are both stoked! I’ve watched some of the concert footage from a couple shows and the band sounded great. Ozzy was off a little but who cares! We’re going for the Sabbath experience and I’m sure we’ll get it.
    I’ll post again after the show. Thanks again for the great review!

  28. Great review Joe. I appreciate your tireless work as always on behalf of the Sabbath community. I am going to see them in Phoenix later this month – can’t wait!

  29. Pat Renau says:

    Joe, I enjoyed reading this, thanks. By the way, several years ago I wrote to you about my story in touring with the band from 1975-1978 . I had a great friendship with Mark Forster, the band’s “personnel director” at the time. Mark passed away suddenly in 1992 and I was not aware of the particulars surrounding that and I wrote you inquiring about it.

    I have recorded an unpublished manuscript written in 1987 about my experiences in the 70s with Sabbath. Some very unique moments: July 1975, Ozzy telling me from his hotel room that one day he would have his own band and already had a name for it: “The blizzard of Oz”. I have this on a cassette recording. Another, I was informed by Mr. Forster in early 80s that Geezer was backing my pick for their first live album title which I suggested “Legally Live” but they went with Live Evil. and a third, just for kicks… a quick interview with Eddie Van Halen during his sound check asking him what his opinions were on Ritchie Blackmore, my favorite guitarist, and who I also got access to because of Mr Forster. Oh, those were the days…

    Anyway, thanks for your extra effort here…and by the way…as unique and appealing as Ozzy’s vocal lines are from studio recordings….some of those high notes have ALWAYS been hard for him to hit live even in the 70s. It is just an amazing pitch he has for those special moments that will live forever. Pat Renau

  30. Saw the Michigan show a couple days ago. My experience was similar, the Andrew W.K. thing was beyond pointless, same setlist I do believe. Ozzy sounded fine on all 4 new songs though. Hearing Under The Sun and Into The Void was worth the trip alone. Bassically is so awesome, and damn I love N.I.B.

    Basically, the very real chance that this was my LAST chance to see Sabbath made it necessary to me.

  31. My wife and I were at the Austin show and it rocked!
    I thought Ozzy sounded awesome and other than flubbing a single line in war pigs, he was spot on.
    My wife wore ear plugs and said after the show that she heard a few songs that Ozzy sounded a bit flat.
    I did not, at all.
    Later I watched a few vids we shot on my iPhone 5 and he did sound a bit off.
    I was shocked because he really did sound great to me live. I couldnt have been happier with a 64yr old Oz performance.
    We remembered that the iPhone (as well as most other smart phones now) has a “noise canceling” feature built into the mic so that it eliminates background noise and certain highs, etc. and that has something to do with the vids we all see where he sounds off or a bit flat.
    Just my opinion.

  32. fishtowner says:

    I’ll be at the Philly show tomorrow Aug 10 And I can’t wait. Like Joe has mentioned I figure this may be the last time I have to see them. I never saw them with Ozzy. Only with Dio and on. Couldn’t make it the last Reunion or the later Ozzfest due to family commitments. So this may be the only time for me.

  33. I saw them in Philly Saturday night, and they were simply incredible. Yes, there were a couple of songs where Ozzy seemed to struggle a bit, but it didn’t bother me a bit. I saw 4 tours with Ozzy in the 70s, as well as 97, and he wasn’t perfect then, either. I thought the drummer did a great job. Certainly not the first time Bill Ward has pulled out, so my feelings weren’t hurt by his absence. As usual, Geezer was great. Seeing the close ups of his finger work on the video screen was amazing. I first saw Sabbath in 1975, and for me, it has always been about Iommi. Every time I see him play, I feel like a kid again. Possibly the best part, this time around I got to bring my own kids with me, so they could see what I’ve been raving about all these years. They are only 10 and 13, not really Sabbath fans, and they had a blast at the show. If this is the last time I see Black Sabbath, I don’t think the night could have gone any better.

  34. Im very excited for the show in Toronto on Wednesday. Im just curious about when this tour is over, will Ozzy retire with the rest of them, or will he go back to his solo career? I’d like to see Ozzy make one more solo album.

  35. I would have liked to see more tracks from the new album :/

  36. Thanks Joe. I agree on your review. I saw them in Philly last Saturday. I thought Tony and Geezer were amazing… as always. Ozzy was … Ozzy … as always.

    And I was very impressed with Tommy. I’ve never seen a drummer pound the drums as hard as he did – for the entire night. I thought he did a great job on the fills and playing Bill’s parts. Usually I find drum solos boring, but his was quite impressive as well.

  37. Glad I read this, going to the show tomorrow in Phoenix at US Airways. Can’t wait! Thanks for the review!

  38. Ted Sallis says:

    I can’t seem to describe Joe’s review of anything in this website without using the word ‘exhaustive’. I only glanced over most of it, but I’d like to state that it’s unfortuate that Ozzy can’t reach the vocal range necessary to sing any SBS or Sabotage songs, as they’re both classic mid-Ozzy era albums full of songs that would be great to hear live now.

    Ted

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