Black Sabbath @ LG Arena, Birmingham – Friday 20th December 2013


Review by Rich Ward

Sabbath triumph at hometown gig

Tonight’s support came in the shape of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. After the first couple of numbers, it’s easy to see why they were chosen for support. Doom laden songs played heavy and slow. It’s a good enough start, and with an added sense of melody and even harmony vocals giving a little edge. After an initial interest, the set does seem to be repetitively slow, and the attention wanes as the songs seem to drag a little. Thankfully, a faster number in ‘Over And Over Again’ saves it before closing on ‘Desert Ceremony’. Nothing groundbreaking, but a good enough start, just a shame they are lumbered with such a dreadful name which is more befitting of a school band.

band-340-poster34It’s been 14 years almost to the day since I last saw Black Sabbath with Ozzy at this very same venue. Much has been said and written of Sabbath since their latest reunion. We are now missing Bill Ward, Ozzy’s vocals and addictions have been well documented and Tony Iommi’s own health problems have all been matters of concern. So expectations about the show have been made with a certain amount of trepidation.

But there is a vibe here tonight that I’ve not felt for a long time. A vibe of genuine excitement. Old fans, and school kids seeing Sabbath for their very first time have filled the arena to capacity, singing along to a surfeit of AC/DC over the PA during a particularly quick set change over. It’s barely half eight when a familiar voice bellows from behind the curtain. Ozzy is back home. The lights go down, the curtain raises, and the venue erupts as the band launch into ‘War Pigs’ as heavy and as menacing as it ever was. The classics are all there, but the less obvious songs delight in equal measure; ‘Under The Sun’, ‘Dirty Women’ and the tracks from the new album 13 which sit comfortably within the setlist.

Ozzy’s voice is in fine form. Not what it once was, admittedly, but certainly nothing to complain about. His mischievous streak is also evident as he throws a bucket of water over an unsuspecting steward. He continues to share jokes with Iommi throughout the night. Iommi himself is as faultless as ever, the solo on ‘Age Of Reason’ taking the song a few notches up above the album performance.

Tommy Clufetos puts in an excellent performance throughout, and while his extended drum solo does begin to stretch the patience, it gives the rest of the band a short break in what is an almost two hour set.

‘Fairies Wear Boots’ is monumental, encapsulating the essence of Sabbath; humour, killer riffs and solos, and proves to be a personal highlight of the evening. Astonishing then that the person next to me seemed more interested in trying to take pictures of Sharon and Jack Osborne et al at the side of the stage than actually watching the very show he’d paid to see, but then I guess there are those that have grown up having been introduced to Sabbath through the Osbornes on TV, rather than the various line ups headed by Tony Iommi over the years.

Further frivolity ensues as Ozzy unleashes a second bucket of water over the steward in front of him. The main set closes with another highlight of the evening with a magnificent version of ‘Children Of The Grave’, powered along by a thunderous bass from Geezer Butler, and some trademark Ozzy leaps. The encore is inevitable, but ‘Paranoid’ starts following a short tease of ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’. Black and purple balloons are released and tickertape machines spray the air as 12,000 metal fans sing along and shake their heads in unison to one of the most definitive metal songs ever written.

Ultimately, one of the best Sabbath shows I’ve seen. Their legacy remains firmly intact. Thank you Black Sabbath for the past 45 years, and for once again letting us all go crazy one more time.

1. War Pigs
2. Into the Void
3. Under the Sun
4. Snowblind
5. Age of Reason
6. Black Sabbath
7. Behind the Wall of Sleep
8. N.I.B.
9. End of the Beginning
10. Fairies Wear Boots
11. Rat Salad(with drum solo)
12. Iron Man
13. God Is Dead
14. Dirty Women
15. Children of the Grave
16. Paranoid


  1. 24th November in Oslo I did see the same show. And I agree to every word in this review. The first time ever I went to a Sabbath concert was in 1971 in Sandnes, a small suburban town in the west of Norway. And I have seen them many times after this. It is amazing and really astonishing that they are still giving these perfect performances. Really; it couldn’t be better. Alas, I didn’t see Sharon in Oslo. But it is to her we owe this great performances; she put it all together. She has managed to get them all togheter and give us, the fans, not only a great world tour, but also 13. Thanks.

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