4th Of July, Independence Day, but also for the scores of fans making the pilgrimage to Hyde Park the day that they would have the distinct and awesome privilege of seeing Black Sabbath live.
Tony Iommi is a god, the rifflord, the godfather of metal, from the first pulsating wail of his guitar the crowd knew they were in for one hell of a goddamn show. Opening with the thunderous ‘War Pigs’ it was a statement of intent of what was to come, which was a masterful onslaught, laying siege to the audiences every sense, as they worked their way through their incredible back catalogue of influential and timeless music as they tore into ‘Into The Void’ and ‘Snowblind’. The fevered crowd easily forgot the advertisements, pomp and circumstance surrounding them and focused in on what was really important, which was Black Sabbath, pure and hellishly loud.
In what is sure to be some of the finest pathetic fallacy most in that crowd had ever experienced, the beautiful sun and clear skies that had plagued the leather jacketed and almost exclusively black clothed crowd, left as Sabbath took to the stage, by the time ‘Age Of Reason’ and ‘Black Sabbath’ took their place on the set list, the clouds had closed in and the sun had set, as ‘Behind The Wall Of Sleep’ crept out over the crowd, a cloak of rain followed in its audial wake.
Whilst Ozzy Osbourne is the figurehead most will gravitate towards, due mostly to his antics and eccentricities, he is in no way the front man of Black Sabbath. Throughout the set Tony Iommi diligently went about proving that he is the true dark lord, spewing out riffs boring into the very core of you. Treating his guitar like a shaman treats his wand, Iommi was entrancing, his strings seemingly singing throughout, when the crowd were treated to a solo they showed their appreciation by raising their fists in devil horned salute and channelling that voodoo back at the stage. It is impossible too to forget about Geezer Butler’s presence on the stage, his rhythmic and pounding bass never more apparent than when he leads out from ‘Behind The Wall Of Sleep’ with a cacophonous bass solo that perfectly twists into the intro for ‘N.I.B’.
As an introduction to ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ Ozzy announces that not only is the 4th of July the birthday of the U.S.A it is also the prince of darkness’ wedding anniversary, “Do you know what day it is today? It’s my f**king wedding anniversary!” he gets the crowd to join him in thanking Sharon Osbourne his manager and wife for keeping him alive through all his years of hard rocking.
‘Rat Salad’ marks the point in the set where touring drummer Tommy Clufetos stands up to be counted. Having worked with Ozzy on his solo project Clufetos is no stranger and he exhales a clattering, cacophonic drum solo that grabs the attention of the whole crowd before the band expertly lead into the anthemic ‘Iron Man’. Not to be outshone by anyone Ozzy’s looming shadow is felt heavily throught the set, vocally and charismatically the prince of darkness is just as black as ever, his diabolical presence constantly inspiring. With ‘God Is Dead?’ from the album ‘13’ the band prove their latest instalment sits well amongst the pantheon of classics, the live outing of its tracks sprinkled amongst the more established is testament to its relevancy and power. After the twisted ‘Children Of The Grave’ perverted the crowd into a fanatical frenzy, the band then teased the ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ intro as the encore, before warping it into ‘Paranoid’.
There are rumours that this could have been Sabbath’s last ever gig, but judging by how godly awesome they goddamn were, we think that’s a steaming heap of nonsense. When you’re that good at something and can still do it at that awe inspiring level you don’t just sack it off, so we’ll see you all at the next Sabbathitcal.
Pictures by our good friend Jason Bowles
Words by Matt Miles