It was an event decades in the making, and even though Bill Ward was not along for the journey, it was still one of those gigs that will be a keeper for decades to come.
Yes, ALMOST the original Black Sabbath had finally made Sydney, and for the first time we would be witness to their awesome power.
Almost six months had passed since those tickets went on sale, and I jumped at the chance to get floor standing admission for the show. Was that an error? Slightly. Given the elderly age of most of our group (Jordan alone allowed out average age to drop to a mere 36 rather than 43), by the end of the concert we were all feeling for our backs and knees that were feeling the strain of standing on concrete for about two hours. By the end, I think we had all agreed that our days of doing this at concerts must surely have come to and end. We were also faced with the reality of all but Joel being quite vertically challenged, and while he had a perfect view no matter what, the rest of us had a view that at time became obstructed through sheer weight of numbers in front of us. No matter - we all survived, but perhaps I will think seriously about this in the future.
The show itself was everything that it could have been. The risk was always there that Ozzy's voice just wouldn't cut it after so many years, and that the ability to sing these original songs years after his voice was capable of it could be his undoing. As it turned out, there was perhaps only two songs where he really fell acropper to this, those being the start of "Electric Funeral" and the warbling in "Snowblind". Apart from that, he held it together pretty well. Of course, he was literally unable to move away from his microphone stand all night, as to do so would have taken him out of range of his autocue with all the lyrics, and there was the risk he would forget the songs. In many ways it was like Black Sabbath karaoke, admittedly with the real lead vocalist rather than, say, me, singing the songs at home. This limited him to very little movement throughout the gig, and as a result there was almost no interaction between the band members. Ozzy also stuck to his tried and true phrases throughout the night, being "How you doing?" and "Are you having a good time?" and "Here's another tune entitled...". But having said all that, he delivered again the bet way he can. I don't want to sound as though I am being highly critical, because it was great. It's just that when you see the way Ronnie James Dio interacted with the crowd and his bandmates on the Heaven & Hell tour six years ago, and the way these guys functioned, it was just a different experience.
Tony and Geezer are still just awesome. The sound they get from their guitars is amazing, and it is still incomprehensible that they can do what they do sound so full with just the two of them. Bands with twin guitars and bass and prominent keyboards still can't approach the wall of sound these two produce themselves. Remarkable. I, as probably most of us, have been waiting all of our lives to hear these two play the starting riffs of songs like "Symptom of the Universe" and "Children of the Grave" and "War Pigs" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", and actually getting to hear it was part life-completing.
Touring drummer Tommy Clufetos had a ball, and played terrifically well. What a dream gig, being the drummer in an-almost reformed Black Sabbath. You could see how much he enjoyed it. However, the long-defuncted notion of the drum solo again reared it head again, I guess mainly to give the three old men a rest in the middle of the gig. Fine I guess, but a waste of a space where another song could have been played.
All in all a great concert, one that we are unlikely to ever witness again. However, give that we spent 30+ years believing we would NEVER see it, we have been very lucky to see them at all.
Into the Void
Under the Sun
Behind the Wall of Sleep
End of the Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
Symptom of the Universe (Instrumental only)
God Is Dead?
Children of the Grave
Paranoid ("Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" intro)