Black Sabbath at Lollapalooza


by Anthony Kuzminski

.
Lollapalooza: Chicago - Friday August 3rd, 2012

As the final notes of "Paranoid" wrung throughout Grant Park in Chicago at day one of the 2012 edition of Lollapalooza, the four members of Black Sabbath placed their instruments down and made their way towards the front of the stage in what should have been an eye welling moment of triumph. The blistering Chicago heat's intensity was only matched by Sabbath's performance on the Bed Light stage where the most magnificent skyline in the world looked down on them. Except there was one superseding quandary with the final wave and bow; drummer Bill Ward was absent. Despite being part of the original press conferences in 2011 when the Black Sabbath tour was announced, Ward posted a series of open letters to the fans explaining that he felt the contract negotiations were unfair to him and until they were resolved, he would sit out the reunion. Then the news that Tony Iommi was diagnosed with cancer and the entire tour was put on hold with the exception of two shows, the Download Festival in England and Lollapalooza. It's impossible to review the show with a clear-cut approach because these are two huge factors that play into the emotional weight of the band's performance and the crowd's response.

At eight o'clock sharp, a video presentation began for before the curtain dropped and the three members of Black Sabbath took to the stage with drummer Tommy Clufetos filling in for Bill Ward opening with the doom laden "Black Sabbath". The three quarters of Black Sabbath were all in black and to their credit the core unit of Sabbath (guitarist Tony Iommi, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler) were in magnificent musical shape and you would have a hard time believing this was only their third and final performance of 2012. Despite Tony Iommi's recent cancer scare he appeared to be in fine form and made through a sweltering and concentrated 100-minute set. Before the show, many were wondering if Iommi would be the presence he usually is in concert. The answer was a resounding "yes". He may appear to be thinner, but showed no signs of frailness. Instead he diligently performed the wailing power chords that every generation has stolen in some form. Iommi roamed the stage like a governing presence that could have been the boogeyman of our nightmares. Dressed in a long overcoat and black tinted glasses, he looked the pert as well. His solo at the end of "Dirty Woman" was a reminder that many have tried but no one can ever imitate the master and the way he drove that final solo home was nothing short of awe-inspiring. During the encore, the band jammed on the intro to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath before Iommi dexterously slide up and down the neck of his guitar like he was sensually caressing it before he launched into one of the most iconic guitar introductions ever composed. The plastic tips of his fingers are a sight to behold as he strokes the strings with effortlessness. Song after song he shifted between slippery solos and the mean-and-lean power chords that is the very heartbeat of Black Sabbath.

Despite playing the essential classics ("Paranoid", 'Children of the Grave", "Snowblind", Sweet Leaf") I found the highlights to be the deeper more ominous cuts in their arsenal. "The Wizard" played like scorching blues jam. Osbourne wailed on the harmonica while the other three backing musicians were in perfect harmony with one another. This wasn't so much musicianship as it was pure instincts. These three men go back more than forty years and despite having considerable gaps in being together when they share a stage they instantaneously enter rare air. "The Wizard" is a perfect example of the band meeting at the corner or metal and the blues and finding a perfect balance between the two. There's free form jamming but it's done with a road map in front of them and it never meanders. Watching Sabbath you're reminded how often the band is mimicked but rarely matched. "Behind the Wall of Sleep" was most welcome addition to the set list as it was right at home with a complexity that matched Sabbath's other compositions. Butler and Iommi performed like twins who have a secret language only the two of them could grasp. Butler's delivers more heady power chords than most guitarists could dream of. Butler's bass was broad and vigorous dancing toe to toe with Iommi's burning guitar as the two of them went deep into the heart of darkness. When Butler's bass amalgamated with Iommi's grim reaper riffs it was euphoric frenzy.

The band sounded as thick as a river of lava that would incinerate you head-to-toe on first contact featured fiercely on "N.I.B." and "Into the Void". "Under the Sun" from Black Sabbath Vol. 4 found Ozzy is excellent form as he interplayed with the audience as he led a impressive arm waving Watching the band perform, specifically the unspeakable chemistry between Iommi and Butler, you fully appreciate how the meticulous nature of the composition of the songs. There's a slithery rhythm followed by mid-song breaks and jams before redirecting the energy to bring it back where it started. It's definitely not paint by numbers rock. Maybe it was the ten hours of music I had witnessed all day and maybe it was because they're just that damn good, but watching them not so much perform but play their instruments is something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Much the same way the Black Keys (who were headlining at the same time as Black Sabbath at the opposite end of the festival) would seek out still living blues musicians. You see where decades of music we love have come from. "War Pigs" and "Iron Man", two of the most essential songs in the Sabbath catalog, were over performed and desperately needed drummer Bill Ward to rein the band in. It shouldn't show shades of speed metal, it should stir up profound horrors of war. Tommy Clufetos threw himself into the performance like a giddy kid and he did great, but his style didn't serve the song. It felt like a solo Ozzy Osbourne performance and not Black Sabbath. The band recovered on "Electric Funeral" featured an overactive midsection and induced the sound of the world being torn apart (the song is about nuclear war and the repercussion from it). The song and album (Paranoid) is more than four decades old and sadly, its themes are as relevant today as they were forty years ago.

What can one say about fill-in drummer Tommy Clufetos? He'll never replace Bill Ward but given the impractical mission set before him, he delivered the set with a passionate punch. His performance didn't so much anchor the band as it made them take flight. My main quibble with the drumming is that it sounds more like a solo Ozzy Osbourne live performance rather than Sabbath. Aside from the two aforementioned performances, he did his job and did it astoundingly well considering the circumstances. Bill Ward is one of the most undervalued drummers in the history of rock n' roll, he may lack the pizzazz many of his peers would showcase in concert and on record, but that isn't his style. His upbringing in Birmingham is hinted at in his drumming. He shows up and supplies what the song requires without flexing his mad talent. His drumming has been in the shadows rarely coming out into the light for fear of overshadowing his band mates and above all else, the material. He was missed on the Lollapalooza stage. As for Tommy Clufetos, his only sin is simply that he isn't Bill Ward. He did the best he could in an impossible circumstance.

What made the Lollapalooza performance so heartbreaking is that with all they have had to endure Black Sabbath played like champions but was missing one integral piece of the puzzle. The core of Sabbath delivered a powerful set showing every other act at the festival the difference between simply being in a band and being legends. The harmonies that rise from Tony Iommi's six-string are matchless. No one can sing the Sabbath catalog with a varying degree or horror and humor like Ozzy Osbourne. Geezer Butler's leaping four-string dexterity is captures ferociousness that no words can do justice. Lastly, no one can replace Bill Ward. He was missed on the Lollapalooza stage. Assuming Tony Iommi recovers from his cancer scare, Black Sabbath will have a chance to make a wrong a right. As it stands, the Lollapalooza performance will either be a footnote in their history or a devastating final chapter. With the loss the members of Sabbath have experienced over their lives (Ronnie James Dio, Randy Rhoads, Randy Castillo) one would think they were imparted wisdom and life lessons from them. Life is too short to throw forty years of friendship to the wind over an imprudent money quarrel. As long as the four original members of Black Sabbath are alive, there is no excuse for using anyone else to be on a concert stage when it is billed as Black Sabbath. For their sake, I hope they look back upon as a bump in the road because the alternate path is too distressing, too daunting and far too permanent. If this is one of the last performances the band ever gives, all I can say is that they should have ended it the way they began…with Tony Iommi on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass, Ozzy Osbourne on vocals and Bill Ward on drums.


Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMusic Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at tonyk AT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter

Black Sabbath at Lollapalooza

Share this article

More articles for this artist .



advertisement

advertisement

News Reports
Day in Rock:
Ozzy Osbourne Wants To Do New Solo Album and Tour- Guns N' Roses Full Reunion Predicted By Gilby - Metallica Planning Massive Hardwired Tour- Gong's Gilli Smyth RIP- more

Kings Of Leon Announce New Album 'Walls'- Led Zeppelin Premiere Previously Unreleased Song 'Sunshine Woman'- Gene Simmons Says Prince's Death Was A Choice- more

Eddie Vedder Ejects Fan From Pearl Jam Concert- Metallica Avoiding Online Negativity Over New Music- Bruce Dickinson Backed Aircraft Crashes- Nickelback Cover Don Henley- more

Day in Pop:
Dave Grohl In The Studio With Korn- Ariana Grande Reportedly Sued For Song Theft- Matt Heafy Looks Back At Calling Trivium The New Metallica- Taylor Swift Flood Relief- more

Unusual Arrest At Blink-182 Concert- Bruce Springsteen Plays His Two Longest U.S. Concerts Ever- Fetty Wap Forced To Cancel Festival Appearances- Metallica Masters Of Puppets- more

Macy Gray Streams Her Cover Of Metallica Classic- Anthrax's Late Night With Seth Meyers Debut Goes Online- Faith No More Release Video Of Their 1986 I-Beam Performance- more

advertisement


Reviews

• Rotten Sound - Abuse To Suffer

• Obsidian Kingdom - A Year With No Summer

• RockPile: Gringo Star- On Dolphin- More

• The Ann Wilson Thing!

• #TBT: Opeth's Blackwater Park

• Tod Hughes - Time Slow Down

• Road Trip: Travel News, Trips & Tips

• Leslie Cours Mather - We Are America

• Road Trip: Quebec City Summer Festival Part 2 - Street Party!

• Chameleon Technology - Blank Canvas

• Die Choking - II

• The Damned - Don't You Wish That We Were Dead

• Root 66: Kenny Davin Fine and the Tennessee Texans- Pete Kronowitt- Tom Rhodes

• RockPile: 3 Pill Morning- Lucifer's Friend- Cal

• Lollapalooza 2016 Final Day

• Sizzling Summer Of Chris Lane

• Lollapalooza 2016 Day Three

• Lollapalooza 2016 Day Two

• Lollapalooza 2016 Day One

• Road Trip: Quebec City Summer Festival 2016 Part 1: La Musique!

• Izzy Thomas - Sell Your Soul • more

Rock News Stories
• Guns N' Roses Full Reunion Predicted By Gilby Clarke (top story)

• Ozzy Osbourne Wants To Do New Solo Album And Tour (top story)

• Metallica Planning Massive Hardwired Tour (top story)

• Gong Founding Singer Gilli Smyth Dead At 83 (top story)

• Scott Stapp Says Art Of Anarchy Plan New Song Release (top story)

• Slipknot's Corey Taylor Will Keep Slapping Distracted Fans Phones (top story)

• Dokken Reunion Infighting Has Already Begun Says Brown (top story)

• The Dillinger Escape Plan Announce U.S. Fall Tour (top story)

• Crowbar May Release New Album Next Month (top story)

• Sculptor Talks New Lemmy Statue (top story)

• Megadeth Play Unplugged Show Outside Hotel (top story)

• Meshuggah Talks 'The Violent Sleep Of Reason' Themes (top story)

• Of Mice & Men Wrote War Song Amid San Bernardino Terror Attack (top story)

• Cradle Of Filth May Use Victorian Horror Theme On Next Album (top story)

• Berlin Pays Tribute To David Bowie With Commemorative Plaque (top story)

• Abel Ganz Announce The Prog Before Xmas Charity Show (top story)

• Steven Tyler Can't Fully Explain Nashville's Influence (top story)

• Opeth Release New 'Sorceress' Studio Video (top story)

• Bullet For My Valentine Expand UK Tour (top story)

• Kings Of Leon Announce New Album 'Walls' (top story)

• Led Zeppelin Premiere Previously Unreleased Song 'Sunshine Woman' (top story)

• Gene Simmons Says Prince's Death Was A Choice (top story)

• Stone Sour Streaming 'Through Glass' Demo (top story)

• Sum 41 Release Music Video For 'War' (top story)

• Avenged Sevenfold Plan To Mix Things Up On Upcoming Tour (top story)

• Scorpions Announce Sting In The Tail Tour Concert Film (top story)

• Blue October Postpone Tour Following Chart Success (top story)

• Every Time I Die Release New Song 'C++ (Love Will Get You Killed)' (top story)

• In Flames Announce 'Battles' Album, Premiere First Song (top story)

• Gemini Syndrome Announce Dates With Sevendust and Red Sun Rising (top story)

• Meshuggah Unveil New Song 'Born In Dissonance' (top story)

• Huntress Announce Dates With Trivium and Sabaton (top story)

• Deadly Circus Fire Split With Singer Adam Grant (top story)

• The Mission Announce New Album 'Another Fall From Grace' (top story)

• Obituary Announce 'Ten Thousand Ways To Die' Album, Stream Song (top story)

• Haken Stream New Song Ahead of North American Affinitour (top story)

• Asphyx Stream 'Incoming Death' Album Title Track (top story)

• The Answer Stream New Song 'Beautiful World' (top story)

• Esben And The Witch Premiere Epic New Track 'Sylvan' (top story)

• Threshold's Damian Wilson Announces Solo Live Dates (top story)

• Eddie Vedder Ejects Fan From Pearl Jam Concert (top story)

• Metallica Avoiding Online Negativity Over New Music (top story)

• Bruce Dickinson Backed Aircraft Crashes During Second Flight (top story)

• Nickelback Stream Cover Of Don Henley Classic (top story)

• Slipknot Considered Breaking Up Says Corey Taylor (top story)

• Lemmy Statue Unveiled At Rainbow Bar And Grill (top story)

• Of Mice & Men Release Fan Assisted 'Real' Video (top story)

• Frankie Miller Lost Duets Album Includes Rod Stewart, Elton, Kid Rock (top story)

• Toots Thielemans Dead At 94 (top story)

• Dee Snider Predicts Metal Fans Will Hate His New Album (top story)

• King 810 Release 'Alpha & Omega' Video (top story)

• Jon Anderson Reveals His Last Message To Chris Squire (top story)

• Anthrax's Joey Belladonna Returns To The Recording Studio (top story)

• Children Of Bodom Announce North American Tour (top story)

• Status Quo Announce New Acoustic Album 'Aquostic II' (top story)

• Enter Shikari Announce 'Live At Alexandra Palace' Album (top story)

• You Me At Six Stream Title Song For 'Night People' Album (top story)

• Sabaton Announce Thobbe Englund's Replacement (top story)

• Initial Moody Blues Cruise Lineup Announced (top story)

• AC/DC's Brian Johnson Helping Launch Music Therapy Center (top story)

• Lower Than Atlantis Announce Their 'Biggest UK Tour Ever' (top story)

• more

B-Side Stories
• Dave Grohl In The Studio With Korn (top story)

• Ariana Grande Reportedly Sued For Song Theft (top story)

• Matt Heafy Looks Back At Calling Trivium The New Metallica (top story)

• Taylor Swift Pledges $1 Million To Louisiana Flood Relief (top story)

• Bruce Springsteen Kicks Off Summer Tour Dates (top story)

• Marillion Embrace Freedom Of Being Non-Mainstream (top story)

• Fans Asked To 'Goth-Up' For Anniversary Of Sophie Lancaster's Death (top story)

• Periphery In A Really Good Place Relationship-Wise On New Album (top story)

• Minnesota Wild To Use Prince Anthem In Next NHL Season (top story)

• Drake Shares Kanye West Track 'You Know, You Know' (top story)

• Vince Staples Streams Full Version of '06' (top story)

• Previously Unreleased J. Dilla Mixtape 'Back to the Crib' Goes Online (top story)

• Macy Gray Streams Her Cover Of Metallica Classic (top story)

• Anthrax's Late Night With Seth Meyers Debut Goes Online (top story)

• Faith No More Release Video Of Their 1986 I-Beam Performance (top story)

• Bon Jovi Release Behind-The-Scenes Clip For New Video (top story)

• Wes Scantlin Not Charged After Bomb Squad Called To His House (top story)

• Of Mice & Men's Austin Carlile Suffered Medical Problems On Stage (top story)

• Metallica Release Studio Video For Hardwired (top story)

• Devin Townsend Had Trouble Giving Up Control On New Album (top story)

• The Chainsmokers and Halsey Added To MTV VMAs (top story)

• Sixx A.M. Release 'Prayers For The Damned' Lyric Video (top story)

• more



Follow Us:

Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2016 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved.

Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.