REVIEW: Black Sabbath begin final North American tour with a metallic bang

Black Sabbath are in the middle of their year-long final tour. Pictured are Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler. Photo courtesy of MSO PR.
Black Sabbath are in the middle of their year-long final tour. Pictured are Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler. Photo courtesy of MSO PR.

WANTAGH, N.Y. — It almost appeared that Ozzy Osbourne’s iconic eye makeup might streak a bit from thankful tears. The lead singer of Black Sabbath constantly and wholeheartedly thanked the crowd at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre Wednesday, Aug. 17 as the band tore through a 100-minute set that proved to be a fitting farewell. Osbourne was joined on stage by the one and only Geezer Butler, bass player for the band, and Tony Iommi, guitarist for Black Sabbath. Rounding out the band and shredding up the drums was Tommy Clufetos.

The Rival Sons kicked off the night around 7:35 p.m. as a full and bright moon rose in the distance. That seemed fitting for a Black Sabbath sendoff. The band is known for its dark lyrical imagery. After a pumped-up, 45-minute set from Rival Sons, the crowd, at near capacity, waited in anticipation for the lights to dim and the stars to shine.

At 8:40 p.m., their wishes were granted.

Osbourne, Butler, Iommi and Clufetos came on stage following a high-defitition animated opening and tore into a hypnotic set opener, “Black Sabbath.” That’s an interesting choice because the beginning of the song is a series of slowly measured lyrical musings coupled with precise and restrained guitar work. However, the payoff was worth it because when the song opens up, the crowd was clapping and stomping along. It was a brilliant calming before the storm.

Other highlights included “Fairies Wear Boots,” “Snowblind” and a singalong “War Pigs.” Osbourne, ever the master of ceremonies, kept the energy rollicking, constantly imploring the audience to scream, clap, sway and sing. His head-banging, which kept in rhythm with the drum’s beats, has become as iconic as his eye makeup. He grabs hold of the microphone stand and lets the music shake his body. Other favorite movements: two peace signs raised high, a bucket of water thrown on the crowd, a pointed finger at a lucky fan.

Ozzy Osbourne is the lead singer of Black Sabbath. Photo courtesy of MSO PR.
Ozzy Osbourne is the lead singer of Black Sabbath. Photo courtesy of MSO PR.

Iommi and Butler, much more subdued than Osbourne, kept the musical tradition of Black Sabbath humming along. They rocked and raged, and always kept the concert moving along. Their solos were skilled and spot on, and their musicianship was on obvious display. They are some of the best in the business, and their foundational work throughout the storied legacy of Black Sabbath will not soon be forgotten.

Clufetos was a wonderful addition (no Bill Ward for this tour unforttunately), and his “Rat Salad” solo was met with well-earned cheers from the throngs of people.

“N.I.B.” and “Iron Man” were classics thrown to the fans like red meat. The crowd ate them up, singing and clapping to the well-known tunes. The 14-song set finished with “Children of the Grave” and an encore of “Paranoid.”

Black Sabbath has promised that this is officially “The End,” which is both the name of their tour and a new eight-song CD that is exclusively on sale at their concerts ($30 for the CD or $100 for an autographed one). The metal band has given so much to the music scene in the past five decades, and this sendoff in New York is the one of their many goodbyes over the next few months.

Osbourne, still honestly and believably screaming “thank you” and “God bless you” to the fans, gave one last wave to the crowd, and then he walked off with Iommi, Butler and Clufetos — sadly and wonderfully one final time in New York.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

Click here for more information on upcoming Black Sabbath concerts. Click here for a concert review from Black Sabbath’s 13 tour.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications.

E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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