An evening with BLACK SABBATH in Tinley Park

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 ]

THE STORY

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.

THE OPENER

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.

BLACK SABBATH

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.

THE SETLIST

War Pigs
Into the Void
Under the Sun
Snowblind
Age of Reason
Black Sabbath
Behind the Wall of Sleep
Bassically/NIB
End of the Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
Rat Salad / Drum Solo
Iron Man
God is Dead?
Dirty Women
Children of the Grave
Paranoid

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.

OZZY’S VOICE

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”.

TONY

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.

GEEZER

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.

HIGHLIGHTS

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.

THE WRAP

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.

Comments

  1. Mike Becker says:

    I also was at the Tinley Park show. I too had seen some of the stuff on the internet, and my only real worry as discussed with my son and my buddy was, how is Ozzy’s voice going to be? Well, Ozzy kicked ass!! I agree pretty much 100% with the above review. I also would have liked to have seen Brad Wilk because of the new album, but Tommy was very impressive and powerful. (To Joe: I wrote a couple of reviews on your website back in 09′ after seeing Heaven and Hell twice in a week, and stated Ozzy could not bring a performance as strong as Ronnie did at this point in time. Fast forward 4 years and I am dead wrong, and pleased to admit it.) I kept looking at my son in awe, Sabbath was kicking so much ass, I kept thinking of bands half their age thinking they are somebody, wrong!! Sabbath will smoke anybody that gets in there way, and these guys are in there mid 60’s, minus Tommy. I had seen Sabbath on Dehumanizer, and 3 times with Heaven and Hell, never seen them fronted by Ozzy. This was one of the best concerts I have seen in my 30 plus years of live shows. Thanks for the memories, hope it is not the last!! Sabbath Rules!! MB

  2. Simone Luca says:

    That was amazing! Took me a while to read it but it was worth it. I never actually saw Sabbath in my life, so this story really killed me ( in a positive way ).

  3. Great review! Well written and honest. Thanks for posting it joe. Just to throw it in there, I saw them at PNC in Holmdel in Nj and a week later in Philly. I have been to many shows at PNC but I never saw it so packed. The Philly gig was sold out and everyone was on their feet for the entire show. My daughter, who just turned 21 wanted to go as her musical tastes are off the charts. Well, she went to both shows, took like 200 plus pictures, and rocked out and thought they were and are awesome. I was glad she got to see the most intricate piece of the hard rock puzzle perform live. Just like the person writes at the end of his review, that “disease” carries on. Lol….Hail to the Almighty Sabbath!!

  4. I’ve seen sabbath a bunch of times. The first time was on the heaven and hell tour. That show was also the first time I ever smoked weed. I lived in Philly then. Now I live in California. The sweet leaf is life changing. In fact, they played sweet leaf while I was high. The second time was on the born again tour. I was there with a friend of mine who was a deep purple freak. When they played smoke on the water, she passed out. I was to high on the sweet leaf to help her, and some guy barged in and revived her. They started talking after the show and they got married in 92. The next time was the Costa mesa show. I still lived in Philly, but my friend insisted we go out there because it was ozzy and sepultura. I’m like ok. So we drive to the other end of the country nearly killing each other in the process. We didn’t know sabbath was playing until the last minute. So, I’m totally psyched now. Sepultura, Dio Sabbath, and Ozzy’ s final show. This is gonna be awesome. Sepultura came out and played a mediocre show. Then Sabbath came out without dio. Instead they had Rob Halford. Which was cool, I guess, but I would’ve liked to see dio. Then Ozzy came on. Now, with ozzy live it’s either hit or miss. Luckily, this was a hit. For the first half of the show. The second half, just kinda sucked. Then the moment I never thought I’d personally witness happened. Black Sabbath reunited to give a farewell to ozzy. It was amazing. After that, Sabbath and ozzy kinda fell off my radar for a while until the reunion in 98. After that, I caught up on everything from TYR To Forbidden and Ozzmosis. The next time I saw them was ozzfest 2001. The show kinda sucked. They didn’t play anything you wouldn’t expect them to play and ozzy sounded kinda off. Bill must’ve been having problems that night, because he was disappointing as well. They did play scary dreams. Which is a song I don’t care for anyway, but with the way they were playing that night it just made it worse. Not to say that Tony and Geezer Sucked. No, No those 2 always are awesome. The next time I saw them was at Radio City Music Hall with Dio again. It was a birthday present my family got me and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. That was probably the best show (in general.) since I saw Def Leppard on the Pyromania tour. The next time was right before I moved to California. I had all my stuff packed up and ready to drive to the other end of the country. When all of a sudden, my friend from the Costa mesa show calls me and says he’s got tickets to Sabbath in Atlantic city. These are front row seats. Right in front of Geezer Butler. I decide that this will be my farewell to the east coast. So, I get down there. We tailgate. We smoke weed. We get drunk. Then go in to watch Halestorm. Then, Sabbath comes out and kicks ass. Little did I know that this was the last time dio would ever play a show. I’m glad I was there. That was the last time I’ve seen them so far. Who knows? Maybe, ozzfest will come around next year with sabbath headlining.

    • Update: I am about to see Black Sabbath! On Friday. In an impulsive move. I got tickets for the show and tickets to go to Santiago, Chile. I’m taking a week off from work and exploring a different culture. I’m coming back on Sunday. But Friday man, that’ll be fucking great.

      • Hey Hey Hey. I saw them again man. I had a great time, I got super duper wasted and rocked the fuck out.
        I’m basically gonna go through the show by the set list.

        1. War pigs – they always start out with this and the band cranked. Ozzy not so much, idk I guess it want that bad because he let the audience do most of the singing, but he just can’t sing this anymore. At least to my ears.
        2. Into the Void – ozzy picked up on this one.
        3. Under the sun – I thank God or who or whatever is up there that I saw them play this. (Would’ve been better with Bill, though)
        4. Snowblind – Ozzy kinda failed on this one, but the pit I was in was UN fucking believable. Normally when you see Black Sabbath there’s a metal crowd, and metal crowds mosh, but they don’t mosh like hardcore punk crowds do. (Slayer Shows don’t count) And punk’s where moshing began in the first place. But, this was the first and probably last time I’ll ever see a pit of hardcore proportions at a Sabbath show.
        5. Age of Reason – I played this song way too much. It’s now one of those sabbath songs I’m burnt out on. (The first ozzy album since 1978, and I’m already overplaying songs to the point of annoyance.) But it was still a good performance. Ozzy picked up again on this one.
        6. Black Sabbath – They blew me away with how much they destroyed with this song.
        7. Wall of Sleep – They played it ok, it probably would’ve been better with Bill.
        8. Basssically/NIB – Holy shit they played this so good that my ears exploded.
        9. End of the Beginning – ozzy didn’t sound good at all when they played this. He sang this horrendously.
        10. Fairies Wear boots – this made up for how much he sucked on End of the beginning. He sounded like he does on the album it was so good.
        11. Rat Salad – Tommy’ s a good drummer, but Bill’s better.
        12. Iron Man – I went to take a piss when they played this. Yeah, I’m that burnt out on iron man.
        13. God is dead – I thought it was weird that they played this so close to the end of the show. When they got to the “nowhere to run…” part I was jumping like a motherfucker.
        14. Dirty Women – ozzy sucked on this one, but iommi was fucking phenomenal.
        15. Children Of The grave – can you say stage dive?
        16. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath intro/Paranoid – Ozzy sucked and Tommy played it too safe. I did catch iommi’ s pick though.

  5. Gotta say, I too was a little apprehensive after watching clips from some of the earlier shows on the tour but what I saw at the Mansfield, MA show was nothing short of the best time I had all summer. Eight of us went, all grew up on Sabbath, and we were blown away. Sure, Ozzy was out of tune here and there but when you are singing along, you just don’t notice it. Or care. Hoping for another kick ass album in late ’14 or early ’15.

  6. 19th row, loud, and they were in great form
    Tony Iommi:
    The main stage sound comes from eight Laney straight fronted 4 x 12″ speaker cabinets. These cabinets are mounted in four steel frames. The cabs are loaded with Celestion G12H loudspeakers. The cabs have been modified to take Neutrik Speakon connectors in parallel with 1/4″ jacks.

    There are also eight 2 x 12″ wedges custom made by Laney distributed around the stage powered from within the guitar set-up. Along with a pair of earlier made but similar wedges for the drums, these serve as guitar monitors for Tony and the rest of the band to ‘lock on’ to a pure guitar sound as they move around the stage. These wedges are loaded with Celestion G12 75T loudspeakers.

    2) The amplification

    Each of the 4 x 12″ cabs is driven by one of eight Laney GH 100 TI amplifiers. These are the Tony Iommi signature models. (See elsewhere on the website for the history). The GH 100 TI is an all valve (tube) 100 watt amplifier head. The amplifier is designed in such a way that the power amp section can be used independently of its pre-amp section. One of the heads is designated the master head and its pre-amp drives all eight heads as slave power amplifiers. See below for how this is configured. The output tubes used are the TAD EL 34STR, which have proved to be the best of all tested.

    All of the monitor wedge speakers are powered by HH V800 power amplifiers, driven via an HH EQ 125 graphic equaliser, from one of the output sections of the Pete Cornish control rack.

    3) The signal routing and control

    At the heart of the system is a custom built signal routing and control unit from Pete Cornish. At the front end, the guitar plugs in. At the back end, the final guitar signal is fed out to all the power amps.

    The guitar signal input can be switched between cable and radio sources. If a wireless system currently used, is the Shure ULX P. After many years of using cables, this is the only unit that Tony has felt happy with.

    After the guitar input there are A/B switches for guitar swapping. Then there are 4 in-line relay switched effect send & return loops. Following them are 4 side-chain relay switched effect send & return loops. Following them are another 2 in-line effect send & return loops. Following them are the mute switch, dry mute switch and output boost controls for the various outputs that the Pete Cornish device has.
    The first three in-line loops enable a wah, a compressor and an octave divider. Currently, these devices are a Tycobrahe Parapedal wah, a Drawmer LX20 compressor and either the Boss or Digitech stomp box octave dividers.

    The fourth loop is the pre-amplifier of the master amp head. The send from the routing rack goes into the front high input of the head, and the return comes from the effects send of the head. The dry signal then continues through the unit with portions being tapped off for, and mixed back in from, the 4 side-chain effect loops. These are a short slap-back delay from a Korg SDD 1000, a longer delay from another Korg SDD 1000, a chorus from a Korg DL 8000 R multi-tap delay and a combination of effects as required from a Peavey Addverb III.

    Next are two more in-line loops enabling a graphic equaliser and a Rocktron Guitar Silencer unit. All the signal cabling within the routing system is run as balanced line resulting in a significant drop of background noise compared to the previous system, it is not usually necessary to switch the Guitar Silencer in line. The graphic EQ in the system is an MXR stereo 15 band rack mount model, used in mono. This is the final unit before the output section that sends the signal to all the power amps. The purpose of this final unit is to iron out the differences in sound on stage due to the differing auditoria that Sabbath perform in.

    After these devices the signal is fed to the power amp sections of all eight GH 100 TI amp heads for the main 4 x 12″s and a series of HH V 800 stereo power amps for the wedge monitors.

    There is a remote Pete Cornish foot pedal board that houses parallel control of most of the effects loops and also the Tycobrahe Parapedal wah.
    — at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre.

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