Concert Review: Black Sabbath

MGM Grand Garden Arena, September 1

Black Sabbath perform at MGM Grand Garden Arena, September 1, 2013. | Photo by Wayne Posner

Black Sabbath perform at MGM Grand Garden Arena, September 1, 2013. | Photo by Wayne Posner

Maybe these guys really are some sort of sorcerers. That has to explain how Black Sabbath can still sound this beautifully menacing and innovative nearly 45 years after laying the foundation for heavy metal. From the imposing opening riff of “War Pigs” to the closing frenzy of “Paranoid,” they covered 16 songs over two hours—12 coming from their first four albums, and three coming from new release 13, Sabbath’s first album featuring Ozzy Osbourne since 1978. Ozzy was flanked by original members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, all of them dressed entirely in black, rallying the crowd with his constant shouts of “I can’t fucking hear you!,” still emitting his Prince of Darkness persona at age 64, even if he occasionally fell out of tune or had to rely on a teleprompter. There was no such slippage from Iommi or Butler, though. You surely couldn’t tell Iommi has been battling lymphoma since early last year as the guitarist excelled on “Into the Void” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” while Butler’s bass propelled songs such as “Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes” and “N.I.B.” A lengthy solo by touring drummer Tommy Clufetos—replacing original member Bill Ward, who is absent from the tour because of contract disputes—late in the show allowed the old guys to take a break, but they returned refreshed for a finale that included the iconic “Iron Man,” new track “God Is Dead?” and “Children of the Grave,” sounding as timeless as ever. Maybe you just can’t kill evil. ★★★★☆

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