BLACK SABBATH @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Irvine, California (08/28/13)

Three quarters of the original SABBATH line-up returned to their old stomping grounds of Orange County, California last night.  I underestimated how many of the devoted would turn out for a show on a Wednesday night as it was nearly a sell out with people making the pilgrimage from near and far.

Black Sabbath
As the house lights went down, the sound of the sirens signaled that “War Pigs” would be the night’s opening song.  Even from right outside the amphitheater, the absolute heaviness could be felt.

To nobody’s surprise, the band’s set focused on the first three records, Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Master of Reality.  While you can’t question the love the masses have for SABBATH, it is a safe assumption that the majority do not spend much time with Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, or Sabotage, and would quickly complain if the band started playing “obscure” tracks such as “The Writ” or “Tomorrow’s Dreams.”  One gem from Vol. 4 did make the set in the form of “Under the Sun.”  They also performed three songs from the solid reunion album, 13.

As a whole, the band were on fire.  Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi played as great as they always do…often surpassing the performances on the studio versions of the songs.   Speaking of Iommi, it was great to see him in his usual fine form, showing the fans that not even cancer can slow him down.  Geezer‘s bass was the thickest, most bulldozing bass tone that I’ve heard in all my years of concert going.  The Prince of Darkness was actually in better shape than in past years as his voice did not crack once.  However, it was getting a bit blown out in the beginning before Ozzy pulled it together and delivered.  The audience got a kick out of him making cuckoo clock sounds in between songs.

While SABBATH fans, including the band, lament the exclusion of Bill Ward, Tommy Clufetos brought his A game.  He was faithful to Bill‘s parts but added in his own style and flare, including his penchant for holding the beat a hair slower.  Tommy also blew the crowd’s mind with his jaw dropping drum solo.

As life goes on and the years go by, we’ll never know how much longer our metal heroes will be alive to continue touring the world.  That’s why this show was so much more special.  Long live SABBATH.

A big thanks goes out to Greg at Live Nation for his role in making this happen.

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