w/ Rival Sons
September 15, 2016
There was a full moon hovering far above the horizon as my Docs crackled against the gravel I stepped over to get from the exit of the BART bridge towards the entrance of Oracle Arena. It was rather eerie, considering that I was on my way into a venue to watch the founders of heavy metal.
Over the course of their career, Black Sabbath have released nineteen albums. This does not include the several live records that they’ve also produced. Nineteen. Think about that. Most bands can’t even say they put out ten records over the course of their career. It’s an unbelievable feat. I will admit, it is a sad day whenever a band with that expansive of a career decides to bring the show to an end, but it is a career that should be celebrated.
Black Sabbath made their last ever stop in the Bay Area on Thursday, September 15 on their highly acclaimed ‘The End’ World Tour. While the band’s setlist wasn’t as heavily career-spanning as it was anticipated, every song was perfectly executed and a hit with the arena.
An up and coming rock act, Rival Sons, kicked off the night with a forty minute long, high-powered set of classic rock and roll. I was actually fortunate enough to review Rival Sons’ solo show and interview their bassist, Dave Beste, on the podcast (prior to the Sabbath show in San Jose this past February) and it was nice to see them in the coveted opening spot on this tour.
A massive curtain enveloped the entire stage in darkness as the lights went out in the arena, signifying the beginning of The End. An animated introduction projects across the curtain, showcasing a film where a liquid oozes up from the cracks in a dungeon-like cavern, birthing a terrifying Devil-like creature that roars into the sky. A blast of fire covers the screen (only animated fire) and the Black Sabbath logo is emblazoned into our minds as the cheers of excited fans reverberate throughout the sold-out arena. The curtain drops, and we are met by the coveted quartet: legendary bassist Geezer Butler, guitar virtuoso Tony Iommi, newcomer Tommy Clufetos (filling in for Bill Ward on drums), and the Prince of Darkness himself, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. Our night truly begins.
“What is this that stands before me?” emanates throughout the walls of the arena as the band open with “Black Sabbath” from their self-titled first album of the same name. The crowd reciprocates by singing back and hanging on every word from Osbourne. For the rest of the show, we go on a journey with Black Sabbath throughout the beginning, iconic years of their career (material only came from the first five albums, with a majority of tracks coming from their second studio album, Paranoid.) A song from Technical Ecstasy (“Dirty Women”) and a song from Vol. 4 (“Snowblind”) made an appearance.
A notable moment from the performance was the inclusion of the track “Rat Salad”, which was preceded by a monumental drum solo from Clufetos. Many were skeptical of the fact that Bill Ward wouldn’t be part of the tour, but the performance from Clufetos laid any doubt to rest among fans. He proved that he could hold his own among the great rock drummers, and I can guarantee we’ll get some incredible performances from him in the future.
Speaking of solos, I have to say that Geezer Butler’s solo halfway through the show was mind-blowing. Not a lot of people give bass players the credit they truly deserve, let alone the absolutely prodigious performers, and Butler is definitely one of the greats.
The show closed with an encore performance of the iconic track, “Paranoid”. If the energy wasn’t already elevated and “turned up to eleven” by this point, then Sabbath made sure it was for the final performance. It was a bittersweet moment, but I’m fortunate that I was able to watch the band before their final curtain call (the last performance will take place in the band’s hometown of Birmingham on February 4, 2017).
Fare thee well, Black Sabbath. Thank you for not only a great performance, but introducing countless musicians the world over to a world of heavy music and kickstarting a genre that is still burning bright to this day.
Fairies Wear Boots
Into the Void
Behind the Wall of Sleep (with 'Wasp' intro)
Hand of Doom
Rat Salad (with Tommy Clufetos drum solo)
Children of the Grave (with 'Embryo' intro)
This has been another Shameless Promotion.