The first and last word in Heavy Metal. The Birmingham formed band basically invented it as we all know.
While both the Americans (Vanilla Fudge, Steppenwolf) and the UK (Deep Purple) were establishing the hard rock scene, Birmingham kickstarted heavy metal, no question. Their history has been long dealt with in the media, and the original 4 piece of John ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Terry ‘Geezer’ Butler and Bill Ward took the world by storm during their first decade, with hits like Paranoid, Iron Man, War Pigs and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
After a multitude of line-up changes and some highs and lows, and Ozzy having a successful solo career (largely due to marketing), some of the Dio and Tony Martin years were among the best heavy metal by anyone, not just Sabbath. And only a narrow minded fool and Sharon Osbourne (hold on, wait) would overlook that material so vehemently.
The original line-up reformed and before you knew it Ward was out; whatever the reasons (health or contractual) his treatment publicly was nothing short of disgraceful. That said, the band returned to Birmingham on their final tour for their final Sabbath show. I know the whole thing’s been a bit of a circus but you cannot deny the quality of the music and the band’s impact, nor the band’s fantastic performance here.
It goes without saying that the performance opens with the band’s eponymous track, one of the scariest and best known chords in the history of music.
The riffs throughout are exactly what you’d expect from Black Sabbath and, as Ozzy frequently, the crowd go “Fuckin’ Crazy” between and during every song.
Much of the band’s first 10 years is covered, although Never Say Die is conspicuous by its absence. There is, however, a great version of Dirty Women from the criminally underrated Technical Ecstasy.
If you listen carefully, there are some nice touches by keyboardist Adam Wakeman, whose dad famously played on the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album.
There’s a rousing rendition of Paranoid to close, and some good bonuses too.
A good memory of a milestone in the history of heavy metal.
The sound is excellent, the performance spot on, although some of the editing and camera shots leave something to be desired.
Bill Ward issues aside, a wonderful release but more of a missed opportunity by the band themselves. 8/10