Adelaide fans were lucky to very lucky to see Black Sabbath, and they knew it. Having originally being left off of the tour, Adelaide fans petitioned hard and got their wish with the Tuesday night gig at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre being added as the final date on Black Sabbath’s Australian tour. The venue was packed, perhaps in part to the reduction in ticket price to $70 the week before the gig, but that said, you could see that the place was full of die-hard Black Sabbath fans. Young and old had donned their blackest black t-shirts and were ready to witness the great and powerful Ozzy Osbourne and Sabbath, together again.
It would take a great and brave band to take on the support slot for the first Black Sabbath tour of Australia since the 1970’s, and New Zealand’s Shihad stepped up to the task. Shihad hit the stage running and ready to rock as they launched into the fast-paced drums of “Factory”. Straight away lead singer Jon Toogood was up onto the amps and striding across the stage. Toogood ignited the energy of the crowd and came across with such an air of genuine excitement and enthusiasm that I found myself smiling. Although the New Zealand lads are more than worth seeing as a main act, they were also the ultimate warm-up act for a band such as Black Sabbath. The whole band gave their all, playing a solid set including “My Mind Sedate”, “The General Electric” and “Comfort Me”.
After a relatively short intermission, the lights dimmed and the curtain in front of the stage dropped to reveal Ozzy Osbourne, the King of Darkness himself, arms outstretched. Osbourne was flanked by original Black Sabbath members Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi, and joined on drums by Tommy Clufetos, who was riding an impressive elevated drum kit (complete with gong). The crowd exploded, crushing forward to get close to the Dark Lord. They didn’t mess around, with the first song of the night being “War Pigs”, which is one of the most rocking songs I have ever heard.
It is evident that despite the journey, the ups and downs on the road that brought him here, the “Ozzy” we were seeing on stage was still the same enthusiastic character that I recognise from old YouTube footage of Black Sabbath playing in the early 1970’s. His voice holds up well as he belts out a set list of over a dozen of Sabbaths most beloved numbers including “Fairies Wear Boots” and “Black Sabbath” as well as some surprises like the epic new number “God is Dead” which will appear on the anticipated new album entitled 13, due for release this year. Guitarist extraordinaire Iommi was as tight as ever, melting faces with his riff’s and Butler was equally slaying it on the bass. However, for sheer showmanship you couldn’t go past the ten minute-long drum solo from Clufetos. This interlude gave the other band members a break to freshen up, and return to the stage to give a brilliant rendition of “Iron Man.”
Osbourne took time on a few occasions to connect with the crowd. He told us of the bands last visit to Adelaide in 1971 when they played the Myponga Pop Festival. Looking around me, I imagine how some of the older fans might have been at that festival, and possibly remember that incredibly early Black Sabbath performance. After breakdowns, break-ups and forty years, to have the band return to Adelaide at all was amazing, and it was clear from the sheer joy on the faces of some of the fans around me that hardcore Sabbath fans had great emotional investment in this show. I can only speak for myself when I say that I think the band lived up to expectations.
The band seemed genuinely thankful as they said their goodbye’s. They exited the stage after giving a curtain call, and the next thing you heard was Osbourne’s voice booming out over the arena chanting “One more song! One more song!” Of course the crowd took the cue, and a few minutes later Black Sabbath returned to the stage to deliver on the unspoken promise that was an incredible rendition of “Paranoid”. The classic tune overcame those in the crowd who had been resisting the urge to crowd surf all night. From my vantage point I could even see a circle pit starting to form. The band finished and gave a curtain call before they said their final goodbyes to Adelaide. Here’s hoping that Black Sabbath honour their promise of not waiting until next century to return to Adelaide.