PLUS: RIVAL SONS UNITED CENTER, CHICAGO. 22.01.16 OH LORD, YEAH! SABBSÕ FINAL TOUR KICKS OFF IN PERFECT, HEAVY STYLE
ÔIS THIS the end of the beginning?õ mused Ozzy Osbourne as his opening throw on Sabbsõ last album, 13. ÔOR the beginning of the end?õwell, we now have the answer. That glorious comeback album from 2013 – the fi rst to bear Black Sabbath’s name in almost two decades, and the fi rst with Ozzy on vocals since 1978 Ð ultimately did not herald a new chapter of activity for the original and best band in heavy metal. Rather, although drummer Bill Ward remains absent, it has come to serve as a full-stop. The talk of another album has ceased. The world tour Sabbath are kicking off has been billed as The End. This is, as they say, it. But as sad as it is to see Ozzy, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler kicking off their fi nal world tour together – and, let’s be honest, even sadder that Bill Ward isn’t part of this fi nal curtain-call – for the two hours theyõre onstage, there is magic in the air.
Up fi rst, and hand-picked by Ozzy and co to accompany them on this fi nal global jaunt, Rival Sons. A modern band who look, sound and feel just like a band who could have done this tour in 1974, their bluesy strut and smoky riffs are automatically classic, the perfect aperitif for what follows.
As a fi nal hurrah, what Sabbath deliver is about as perfect as you can get. The timeless tritone of their signature tune kicks things off on a wave of doom, Snowblind is dangerously blissful, Iron Man’s riff gets a louder sing-along than half of Ozzy’s lyrics do, and N.I.B. proves that there is still no band with as fl uid a grasp of groove and thrusting swing as Sabbath. Amazingly, there are still surprises in the set, among the cast-iron guarantees. After Forever gets its fi rst airing in over a decade, while Hand Of Doom Ð and how, after almost two decades of on/off reunion touring from Sabbath, are we only just noticing this? – hasn’t been played live since 1978. And, despite Ozzy having said that nobodyõs interested in hearing newer material from 13 (actually, we are), God Is Dead? gets cranked out, reminding us that Sabbs are ending this crazy ride as brilliantly as they started it.
So, yes, this is the beginning of The End. Download awaits. And when Black Sabbath hit Donington Park for the last time, youõre going to be crying tears made of equal parts sorrow and joy. Mostly the latter.