Review: Black Sabbath – Glasgow Hydro 16/12/13

Black Sabbath! In a year where I’ve said “gig of the year” about 30 times, I’ll say it again. Gig of the year.

I’ll be honest and say I know squat about Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, but after their opening performance I’m more than sold. Low energy but a big sound, it’s not the sort of music that lends itself to running about stage so all the focus is purely in the instruments and they sound powerful as all kinds of fuck. You know you’re onto a winner when you can’t see the faces of any member of a band because of curtains of hair hanging from their heads.

A curtain drops and one of the quickest turnarounds I’ve witnessed at an arena show occurs. While some bands enter to an epic piece of music, Black Sabbath’s set started with Ozzy screaming something I couldn’t quite make up down the microphone, though I suspect it contained the words “fucking” and “crazy.”

Entering to War Pigs was a stroke of genius, while not the fastest Sabbath song, it’s one of the most well known and that riff is an all time classic.. though in saying that, every riff tonight is an all time classic.

I took residence down the front, directly in front of classic riff maker Tony Iommi. Though I’ve seen him play with Sabbath before, in both Sabbath and Heaven & Hell, this is the closest I’ve been. Watching the guy who pretty much invented this entire genre of music I listen to stand mere meters away playing these riffs and solos was a special moment. You know you’re sufficiently close when you can see the false tips on his fingers.

Iommi’s stage presence is that of a British gentleman. Modest nods to the crowd and a sly flash of the horns in response to the cheers of thousands. The best thing about his performance was how healthy he looks. For a man who has been battling cancer, it’s good to see him look good.

One of the meatiest riffs of all was actually a new song. While the old classics like Into the Void sounded incredible, the main riff towards the middle of God Is Dead? was a prime sirloin steak of a riff. Black Sabbath itself though sounded as evil as ever, you can understand why people freaked out about it back in the 70s.

The meatiest of meaty riffs though was obviously Children of the Grave. I defy any human to listen to that intro and not move at least one body part. At the gig people seemed to be trying to move all at once jumping all over the place in a frenzy.

Though I didn’t get to see Geezer as much, his bass sound was a monstrous thing as always. N.I.B started, first by shaking the bowels of everyone in the place from the bass solo, and then from the jumping that followed. It’s amazing the depth of sound Geezer and Tony can create together, making two guys seem like many.

I know it’s a crime to say it, but Bill Ward wasn’t particularly missed tonight. Tommy Clufetos more than makes up for his absence, even managing to deliver that rarest of things; an interesting drum solo.

A review of a Sabbath gig can’t be complete without mention of Ozzy. He looked and sounded fantastic. I saw him live back in 2007 with his own band, and the Ozzy of 2013 is a different man. He looks younger, sounds better and is altogether “better.” There were a few slip ups vocally here and there, N.I.B’s intro for one, but for the most part he was on top form and led the crowd constantly in clapping, waving, jumping or “go fucking crazy”-ing, not letting them rest or get bored for a minute.

Without a doubt, one of the best gigs of the year. I was completely blown away and days later, I remain in a state of blown awayness.

This is just a brief section for Glaswegians/Scots who haven’t been in the Hydro yet. Compared to the SECC, this place is a dream. The bowl shaped arena is far better for the acoustics and from what I’ve been told, it’s very hard to get a bad seat in the place. Sure you may be a fair distance away, but you still get a pretty decent view. Drink prices are also fairly reasonable, 4 quid for a pint, not fantastic but cheaper than some of the smaller venues in Glasgow. Very recommended.

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