20 December 2013 (gig)
12 February 2014
I have now seen Black Sabbath three times, the first being undoubtedly the most energetic gig of my life: their reunion homecoming gig at the Birmingham o2. Obviously it practically goes without saying that an arena show can't measure up to the intimacy of the 2000 capacity venue but after seeing several other rock acts destroy the LG Arena I felt that Sabbath had something missing that night.
The visuals were appropriate and stunning. An arboreal haunted mansion style screen enlarged elements of the performance with side panels simultaneously playing artsy video shorts and animation.
The purple and black colours that define the band so well were plastered everywhere, creating a spooky, exotic yet gloomy atmosphere. However the band simply did not put on a dramatic enough 'show' to entertain the masses filling the arena.
From the first song Ozzy's vocals were flat. Into the void was particularly painful to endure as Osborne sang savagely out of key. His vocal misdemeanors were not even redeemed by his crowd interaction, which saw him repeat the same message several times and draw upon the clichéd 'hey's and 'jump's, often to little or no avail.
I was standing relatively close to the front for the whole gig and the crowd simply lacked energy. Enthusiasm died after the murderous rendition of into the void and songs from the band's latest release 13 flopped due to their banal, derivative and uncreative style.
Iommi is undoubtedly the greatest living guitarist, a testament to his talent was the volume of 'tony' chants coming from the audience as opposed to few 'Ozzy' ones. Iommi shredded and adorned every track, providing some pleasant musical substance to an otherwise dull performance. Similarly Sabbath’s new drummer was fantastic, keeping the band tight throughout and showcasing his skill in a ten minute drum solo.
Seeing Black Sabbath in an arena felt like 'Ozzy for the masses' to me. The gig was beyond formulaic and lacked the spontaneity that makes rock shows the best thing on planet earth.
Disappointingly it seems Ozzy has finally lost it, Listen out for Sabbath's new material in an elevator near you!