A review by Sean E. Denomey


It's a miracle that Black Sabbath are still going after so many years and so many lineup changes. The band that sits atop every metal act's "inspiration list" has continued recording since the (first) departure of Ronnie James Dio, despite doing so in relative obscurity. Of course, for the band that once played live before 300,000 fans, relative obscurity is extremely relative indeed. All things said, Sabbath just ain't what they used to be, and I wasn't sure what to expect from their performance at the Warehouse.

Like I said, Sabbath ain't what they used to be, although they'd be crazy to forget about the old stuff. They opened the show with some spooky keyboards, thunder and lightning effects and an Iommi solo that lead to "Children of the Grave." This was my first time seeing frontman Tony Martin live, and he did a pretty good Ozzy impersonation on this number, although he certainly lacked the Oz's stage presence. This was to be a consistent theme: Tony Martin trying too hard to get the crowd going.

After "Neon Nights," another good Martin vocal performance, Sabbath played a chunk of songs from the new LP Forbidden, and some material from recent albums such as Eternal Idol and Headless Cross. "The Shining," "Rusty Angels," and "Headless Cross" were well received by the crowd despite Martin's penchant for avoiding most high notes. After hearing the keyboardist show up Martin with some excellent backup vocals on "When Death Calls," it was really clear that yet another frontman shuffle was in order.

Despite my Martin-bashing, he only really disappointed me on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," by completely avoiding the high notes. Of course, he could have gotten away with this had he sang it similar to Bruce Dickinson's excellent version on the Nativity in Black tribute album, but Martin's choices were especially poor and really sucked the life out of one of the all-time great Sabbath anthems. After this pathetic performance, the band proceeded to make up for it in spades with "War Pigs," "Mob Rules," "Black Sabbath," and an extended version of "Heaven and Hell." Most of the crowd was in heaven (and hell?) after this barrage of classic cuts. For an encore, the band finished up with "Iron Man" and "Paranoid." No "Sweet Leaf" or "N.I.B.," but hey, when you've recorded over 200 songs, you can't play 'em all.

After the show, I realized that I'd been wrong about Sabbath. Being very unfamiliar with the recent material, I had written the band off as a bunch of has-beens. I should have just written off Tony Martin as a has-been. Despite the obvious weakness at lead vocals, the band is still a solid unit with the ability to put on a good show and write some decent songs. Now all they need is for Iommi to give Martin the boot and they're all set. How about Ozzy? Dio? Ritchie Blackmore? My brother? Hell, anyone'd be an improvement...

Posted by: Joe Siegler Author Profile Page at July 13, 2010 12:05 PM