Here’s a guest post by Sabbath fan Joel Roza talking about his experience seeing Sabbath in Tinley Park (Chicago), Illionis. It was such a good post, I thought I’d promote it up here, since this site is supposed to be about Sabbath fans, not just “my voice”. Check it out:
This is a review for Black Sabbath’s August 16, 2013 tour date at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois. The tour was in support of Sabbath’s new album, “13”, which was released on June 11, 2013 and reached #1 on the top album charts in over 60 countries worldwide, including America, which marked their first-ever #1 record in America in their 45 year-history. The touring lineup for Black Sabbath was Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Tommy Clufetos, and Adam Wakeman.
Before I begin my review of last night’s Black Sabbath show in Tinley Park, Illinois, let me first give a slice of gratitude to Mr. Joe Siegler, who was kind enough to allow me to occupy a spot on his incredible site with my own piece of Sabbath history. I’ve been coming to Joe’s site for years and, without it, would not be the Sabbath savant that I am today. Truly. Sabbath’s official website is aesthetically pleasing, but it falls way short on the factual end. Joe’s website is the only place in the entire World Wide Web that you can find authoritative information of every Black Sabbath release, every band member who has thrown a cross around their neck, and every relevant piece of news concerning all Sabbath, and Sabbath-related releases. This site is truly a gem of the internet and I consider it to be THE end all/be all of Black Sabbath sites. Thank you again, Joe for your generosity and for all that you do for Sabbath fans around the world!
[ Note from Joe: I considered removing this section, as some might think it is the reason I posted this review online. I agreed to do this before reading the final draft, I decided to leave this in here as to present Joel's review unedited ]
My brother-in-law Jimmy and I arrived at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre around 6:15 pm and sat in the parking lot for a bit, pre-gaming with beers from home and Sabbath blaring through the speakers. I did take this opportunity to introduce him to a song I consider to be the single-worst slice of music since Bill H. Music invented music, that being “The Illusion of Power” from Sabbath’s 1995 album, Forbidden. He’d never heard it, so I figured I’d take this momentous occasion to show him how low Sabbath fell in 1995. I know Tony Iommi has plans to remix and re-master that album, and who knows? Maybe he can work some magic there. But in my opinion, the songs themselves are just awful. Tony Martin’s wonderful voice is stymied, Cozy Powell sounds like he’s drumming underwater and while I won’t knock Iommi’s riffs, it’s the least creative thing Sabbath ever did. Again, my opinion.
A near-tragic event almost occurred before the show ever started. I bought these tickets off of a seller from Stubhub and sent one ticket download to Jimmy and kept the other for me. The e-mail was clearly marked, but it didn’t matter apparently. Jimmy got his ticket scanned, and got in. My ticket was scanned and came up “already in use”. Jimmy and I had printed the same ticket.
Mother of God.
I went to the ticket window and asked if they could re-print it, but they couldn’t because I wasn’t the original ticket holder. The lady at the window then told me if I pulled up the ticket on my phone, they could scan that and get me in. I pulled out my phone, only to watch it drop signal and cut off my access to my email. Perfect. As I waited for my phone to re-start, I started thinking of ways I could sue T-Mobile for their faulty signal, or sue Live Nation, or find someone who could teach me how to sue someone. Then my phone, with signal, came up and I got in. Crisis averted. No lawsuit.
Inside the venue, merchandise, food and drinks were outrageously overpriced as expected, but I had to come out of this with a Sabbath bomber shirt. I’ve always loved that Never Say Die! design, so it was a necessary evil to fork over the $40. The $13.75 I spent on cheese sticks and a Coke, however, was an abomination to my wallet. I’m sorry forever.
One last anecdote. As we made our way to the seating area, a guy passing Jimmy grabbed his arm, and told Jimmy as he pointed at his Sabbath shirt “those guys suck, they fucking suck…cool shirt, bro.” and then proceeded to grab his face and give him a bro hug. Jimmy was horrified. He is in no way a social butterfly, so of course he’s a natural magnet for weirdos at concerts. It was perfect.
I knew from all the previous reviews from shows on this tour what Andrew W.K.’s shtick was going to be, but it was still such a massive disappointment. Jimmy and I started going over all the bands Sabbath could’ve brought on in place of this guy and, eventually, worked our way from The Sword to me with my iPod on shuffle. Andrew WK? More like Stand There Like A Boob And Press Play WK. Useless. Black Sabbath deserves so much better. One of my theories on why they chose Andrew WK to open for them was that it can only get better from there. Even if Ozzy is off on a given night, you’ll take it over Andrew WK’s iTunes.
My other theory was he’s probably really cheap. Criminally cheap. Paid in beer cheap. I could see it.
A lot has been made about Ozzy’s voice on this tour. I’ve watched videos from every show this tour and have heard what everyone else has heard. The Houston show was horrific, and Austin was only marginally better. As the tour has winded its way through the States and Canada, Ozzy seems to have gotten stronger. The Toronto footage from 3 nights ago was stupendous, so I was really amped for tonight, hopeful for a great show. The last time I saw Sabbath, back in 2005 at Ozzfest in California, Ozzy lost his voice midway through “Dirty Women”, slammed his mic down and left. Tony, Geezer, and Bill simply carried on with an extended solo bit until Ozzy returned and briskly finished the set. So I was really hoping for an inspired Ozzy. I don’t care if his voice cracks. He’s 64 years old and he’s lived a HARD life. I get it. Just stay in tune.
Into the Void
Under the Sun
Age of Reason
Behind the Wall of Sleep
End of the Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
Rat Salad / Drum Solo
God is Dead?
Children of the Grave
Sometime in the last week or so, Sabbath quietly removed “Methademic” from their setlist, replacing it with, I guess, an extended drum solo from Tommy Clufetos (more on him later). The rest of the set is consistent with what has been played on tour thus far, so I had a pretty concrete idea of what was being played.
Through my singing of every, single song and excessive head banging, I paid close attention to Ozzy’s voice. I can confirm for anyone reading this that it was in top form. He was so good, so animated, and so inspired. His voice cracked quite a bit at the end of “Snowblind” as well as “Children of the Grave”, but he was otherwise pitch perfect and able to pull off the show. Jimmy and I were amazed and in awe of him. He even pulled off some of those frog jumps or whatever they are, and was running from one side of the stage to the other while singing, which was great to see, especially during “Age of Reason”.
Anyone expecting a weakened Tony Iommi was going to be pleasantly disappointed. Not even lymphoma can slow down the Iron Man. It was an honor to watch him shred all night. It was also great to see him having so much fun. He folded over in laughter 2-3 times, and was generally very responsive to the crowd. Tony’s always had this reputation as being very stoic on stage, and he can be that a lot of times, so when you get to see him smile, play around, and just generally enjoying YOUR experience, it’s a pleasure.
You can’t not marvel at Geezer Butler. It’s impossible. The man is so gifted, so unique in what he does and how he plays. Of course he was phenomenal last night. Of course his playing of the NIB intro bit “Bassically” compelled many around us to say things like “holllly shit!”
Recently, Geezer did an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in which he stated that he believed that this current tour would “probably” be Sabbath’s last. I’ve learned over these many years that Geezer often says what he’s feeling at the moment, not really looking into the future. I’m not saying Geezer lies, but I am saying he often says things that end up being completely and totally untrue. It isn’t lying. At worst, it’s a lack of foresight. At best, it’s some misdirection being tossed about. Whatever the case may be, his statement does make sense. The guys are 64 and 65 years old. It cannot be easy touring the world nowadays. If this album and this tour marks the swan song of Black Sabbath, after 45 years, I can live with that.
Three years ago, when Ronnie James Dio passed away, I wrote that I didn’t want a reunion with Ozzy. The band had ended on such a high with Ronnie – great tours, a great album that shot to #8 on the Billboard charts, and a ton of goodwill from fans. People had gotten so bored with Ozzy-era Sabbath shows because they were all the same. Ozzy’s voice can only handle certain songs, and that was in 2006! Plus, there was no new material to draw from. Ronnie’s version of the band could crank out an album annually. It was so easy and the focus was there. I wanted Sabbath to retire on a high note. Thankfully, my request to stop there wasn’t granted. Sabbath brewed up a great album, and is blazing through America on a tour that is getting better with age. So if this IS it, I’m happy to say I was there.
TOMMY CLUFETOS AND THE BILL WARD THING
Sabbath, for the recording of “13”, enlisted Rage against the Machine and Audioslave drummer Brad Wilk to play in place of founding drummer Bill Ward, who left the reunion before it could start due to contractual issues. Wilk was amazing on the record, sounding like a young Bill Ward, complete with blues and jazz chops. Many, many props to Brad Wilk.
On the tour, Sabbath enlisted Ozzy’s solo band drummer, Tommy Clufetos, who had been drumming for Sabbath since they started doing shows again in 2012. I’ve stated many times before that I would’ve loved for Brad Wilk to be on this tour, playing his songs with Sabbath, as well as the classics. His chops were just fantastic. So I was disappointed to see Tommy slotted in again for the American dates, but he did a great deal to win me over last night. He takes a little creative liberty in his drumming, but he stays largely true to the original material, and the band really seems to get on with him. His drum solo was pretty awesome, too. I wouldn’t slap it alongside any Neil Peart solos, but it was really good nonetheless. He plays hard, he plays loud, and has the whole hippie, Bill Ward circa 1978 look going for him. I’m officially fine with Tommy touring with Sabbath.
As for Bill Ward, I hate that he’s not on tour, or on the new record. But in some ways, it just seems like the time has passed for him to be playing drums in Black Sabbath full-time. I think his exit, and the current Ozzy-fueled onslaught about his being overweight, out of shape, etc is a bit clumsy, but it is what it is. It’s Black Sabbath, man. Lineup changes are the norm. I don’t understand why people are so up in arms about it. It sucks, but what can you do? Just enjoy the show.
I really loved “Age of Reason”, “God is Dead?”, “Under the Sun”, “Behind the Wall of Sleep”, and “End of the Beginning” especially last night. I love all the tracks they played, but these were highlights for me. It’s funny to me in a way because “God is Dead?” is one of those tracks that, since it was the first single and I lived with it longer than the rest of the album, I always tend to skip it when it comes on my iPod. But it just fit so well in the set. The second half of the song, which is my favorite, just had me going fucking crazy. I just loved it.
I was shocked at how easily the new material fit in with the old stuff. On record, it sounds like it should. But you never know with a live show. In this case, it worked out great. The songs went over really well.
Another highlight, as mentioned before, was just the interaction between the band. Ozzy and Tony in particular were really playful all night, really into it and just totally immersed in the music. No sound issues, no large voice issues, no bad nothing. It was just a great, great show. I also found it really humorous when Ozzy, whenever the lights would go out, would start going “cookoo, cookoo” into the mic. At first, no one knew what to do with it. Eventually, everyone did it back to him. Old people and their funny quirks.
Last night may very well have been the last time I ever see Black Sabbath on stage again. If it was, and even if it wasn’t, I’d like to thank Tony, Ozzy, Geezer, Tommy and every other past member of Sabbath for the work they’ve put in, the music they’ve pushed out, and, as James Hetfield once said, for spreading their wonderful disease through generations of musicians, as well as fans.
Thank you, Black Sabbath. I, too, have sold my soul for rock and roll.