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Black Sabbath

Sunday 29th January 2017

O2 Arena, London

If this really is to be The End, then The End comes early to a sold out 02. It's 8.15 when the rain (inside and out) and the tolling bell usher in the band with the song of the same name. The crowd goes mental as the curtain falls, to reveal a massive stage spanning screen and a backline of fire. From the first note it's obvious the boys are in no mood to mess around and with little crowd interaction they let the music and visuals do the talking, one hundred minutes of it to be precise. Black Sabbath quickly heads into 'Fairies Wear Boots', who could possibly wish for two better opening songs?

The fire is turned down (presumably before the whole band melt) although the intensity of the band is not, as they smash through Volume 4's 'Under The Sun'/'Everyday Comes & Goes'. Tony Iommi showing why he is such an admired guitarist and Ozzy's vocals right on the money.

No time for a rest as 'After Forever' and 'Into The Void' follow, which brings out much headbanging from some middle aged bald headed men with ponytails near us, clearly back in their 70's heyday. Ozzy dedicates the next song, a storming 'Snowblind' to Geoff Nichols, the ex-Sabbath keyboard player who sadly passed away just yesterday. A fitting tribute and one of many highlights. Next with the stage bathed in blood red light and the air raid siren at full tilt, it's time for my personal favourite 'War Pigs'. At previous Sabbath shows I've seen Ozzy do the "you sing one line and I'll do the next" routine, but not tonight, as the main man sings every line with all us generals gathered in our masses doing the same. He may give the appearance of someone hanging on to the microphone for dear life, but it's a classic performance of a timeless song.

Next up are two songs from the legendary self titled debut album (47 years old this year!) Ozzy introduces 'Behind The Wall Of Sleep' as a song they don't perform very often, although it does seem to appear on most dates of this tour. Then Mr Iommi takes centre stage for some classic riffage with 'N.I.B.' as the crowd help out with the "Oh Yeah's". The double O then takes a break as instrumentals 'Rat Salad' and a great medley of Sabbath Riffs complete with archive footage of the band on screen, take pride of place. With only 3/4 of the original line up on stage, it's down to Tommy Clufetos to fill the absent Bill Wards boots. An absolute powerhouse of a drummer, his speed and precision are incredible. Personally I have seen enough drum solos to last a lifetime, but this really is something special, the man must have two extra arms and legs to make such a powerful noise.

Ozzy returns as yet another classic with a timeless riff makes an appearance. 'Iron Man' has just about everything. This time the video screens highlight the sheer speed of Geezer Butlers bass guitar playing, he may only move about ten paces during the whole show, but his fingers are a complete blur, wonderful stuff. With the show charging to its inevitable conclusion it's time for another blistering Tony Iommi guitar solo on 'Dirty Women', a great song played by a band absolutely on the top of their game. From the moment we walked into the arena the masses of purple balloons tied to the ceiling waiting to be unleashed were waiting for their cue, which comes with 'Children Of The Grave'. There are so many, the band is barely visible, especially when tons of ticker tape are added to the mix. Rather than leave the stage, Ozzy conducts the crowd in a chant of "One More Song" as the band launch into the inevitable 'Paranoid' to bring the curtain down on a great show and even greater band. And that's it, all over. The last time I will see the band that invented the music I love. We live in hope course, as farewell tours don't always mean what they say. But if this really is The End, it was a great, barnstorming way to bow out. Farewell Guys.

Phil C.

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