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Black Sabbath - Reunion (Live)

Review: 184
Date: 10 Jul 04


Rating: 5 Dark Stars

Ozzy Osbourne - Vocals
Toni Iommi - Lead Guitar
Geezer Butler - Bass Guitar
Bill Ward - Drums
Geoff Nicholls - Keyboards

Black Sabbath

Tracks Listing:
War Pigs
Behind The Wall Of Sleep
Fairies Wear Boots
Electric Funeral
Sweet Leaf
Spiral Architect
Into The Void
Snow blind
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Orchid/Lord Of This World
Dirty Women
Black Sabbath
Iron Man
Children Of The Grave
Plus two new Studio Songs
Psycho Man
Selling My Soul


The last concert given under the Black Sabbath banner before this Reunion concert was recorded, was in Bangkok. However, it was a completely different lineup to the one on this C.D. Back in December 1995 only Toni Iommi was left in the ranks of Black Sabbath from the original band. Along with him was Tony (Cat) Martin on Vocals. (Tony has just released a new album (2003) with his band Empire called 'Trading Souls' and very good it is, too.) Furthermore there were Neil Murray on bass; Geoff Nicholls on keyboards (he has been with Sabbath now for twenty years, but he yet has to play off stage); and Bobby Rondinelli on drums. On that frenzied night in Bangkok they gave the sort of concert that smacks of end of tour, ’Alright, let’s give it one more go and then go home’. Great Gig, but you always felt that you wanted to see the real thing rather than a bunch of very efficient and technically gifted players. They gave an excellent concert, but they were not it. After a long world tour none of the members of the band were talking to each other, and probably never spoke again after that night in Bangkok. (Apart from the ever dependable Geoff Nicholls, of course.)

In 1979 Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath or quit, depending who’s side of the story you wanna believe. It was to be over eighteen years before the original lineup got back together, although there were brief moments of hope for the fans like the one off performance at Live Aid in 1985. In fact, over those eighteen years Sabbath had recorded ten different albums, all of which had different personnel. Twenty-three musicians had been through the ranks, not counting hundreds of auditions.

Black Sabbath

Giant Stonehenge monoliths for the stage that could not be fitted into the concert halls they were playing; Dwarfs on stage; famous vocalists who did not know the lyrics to classic Sabbath songs; getting lost on the way to the stage; and drummers disappearing into the dry ice. You name it, Sabbath had either done it, or somebody had done it to them. But through it all there were still some great moments and great albums from both, Sabbath and Ozzy, who's own band was just as liquid as Sabbaths. (Ozzy Osbourne, with the help of his wife Sharon, had gone on to be far more commercially successful than Sabbath had ever been. The two of them had been the main inspiration for a movie called 'Spinal Tap'.)

Realizing the time was right, and to be fair, they probably realized a buck or two could be made out of the gig, it was decided to put the original Black Sabbath together and do those songs properly again. Bridges were built and contracts were signed (which was more than Sabbath managed the first time around). They never received a dime in royalties for their first album as they were paid a one off sum of one thousand pounds, given two days to record, and that was it. The album went top twenty all over the world, is still on the Billboard lists today, over thirty four years later, and has been re-licensed to different labels countless times. Smart move, boys.

As a token of goodwill their home town of Birmingham, England, was chosen for the comeback concerts, so the giant N.E.C. Stadium was booked to present the reunited Black Sabbath on two dark wet and windy nights in December 1997. Fearing that this could be a one off if Sabbath soon returned to their old habits, it was decided to record the whole thing for posterity. Add to that the fact that the boys were not as young anymore either. Rehearsals were a little tense, but apart from Bill Ward missing the odd flight and Toni Iommi setting Bill’s beard on fire, things went better than expected. But would the magic still be there when they took to the stage?

Before going on stage the band admitted they had never been so nervous in all their careers. However, when the pre-recorded opening sirens and announcements boomed across the stage the band walked out and the crowd went mental. 'War Pigs', first played live by Sabbath in 1969, shuddered the rafters and thundered out of the speakers. By the time Ozzy came in with the first verse, they have got it, the groove was back. Not only the band knew it, the audience felt it too and went berserk along with their heroes. Toni Iommi established what the whole world knew anyway, he was the master of the heavy metal riff, his searing solos were splattered across every song, driving the band onto further heights.

On the audio C.D. you can hear Geezer Butler throwing his bass guitar around, leaving the template for all heavy metal bassists. Truly a Master of Reality as he nails every note.

On the drums there is Bill Ward, playing the bins with hammer blows reaching technical ecstasy.

Ozzy comes through the Blizzard of sound, taunting the crowd onto a higher musical plain between songs, belting out the lyrics as only Ozzy can. After all, nobody has ever actually accused him of being able to sing.

Geoff Nichols is unheard and unseen throughout the concert; merely a supporting role.

But what you get is two hours of the live beast, plus two newly recorded studio tracks as a bonus. All the classics are played alongside some other songs that should of been classics (and would of been if they had been in other bands’ repertoires). Sabbath had such a wealth of songs that some got forgotten over a period of time.

I for one am truly grateful that these concerts were recorded and released, as the original lineup never released a proper live album first time round. So this is a great memento of one of rock’s immortal giants. After what they have been through they must be immortal.

I leave you with the opening lyrics to 'Children Of The Grave', written by Geezer Butler in 1971, which shows, I think, that not only in their heavy riffs and solid rhythms were Black Sabbath years ahead of everybody else. Who would of thought that there would be social awareness from this bunch of brummies?

‘So you children of the world, listen to what I say,
If you want a better place to live in, spread the word today,
Show the world that love is still alive, you must be brave,
Or You children of today are children of the grave.’


Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew


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