The Legends Return
There can be no doubting Black Sabbath's legendary status, their contribution to rock / metal as we know it is unparalleled and today it seems the whole metal fraternity is in attendance to pay homage. The crowd is immense and must be at least three times as big as Friday night's crowd for Feeder, it's definitely standing room only even at the back of the slope and the surrounding hills are packed to bursting point.
This is the moment everyone's been waiting for and as soon as the intro music starts (which strangely is a medley of snippets from Sabbath's back catalogue) there is a massive roar from the expectant audience. As they take to the stage the reverence that people hold for Ozzy Osbourne is more than evident as he arrives before his public to tumultuous cheering and a sea of arms raised in salute. Beginning with N.I.B it is immediately evident that despite advancing years Black Sabbath still have the power and expert delivery that they had in their youth.
Ozzy looks lean and fit and his voice is as strong as it ever was and from the beam on his face, that he never loses throughout the set, he is clearly loving the occasion. The only down side to proceedings is that the sound is pretty rough during the first few songs with the bass in particular suffering. As they move on through 'After Forever' and the awesome 'War Pigs', Tony Iommi's guitar playing really starts to come to the fore, often touted as the master of the power chord riff his abilities as a lead guitarist often get overlooked. Looking exactly the same as he did thirty years ago, tonight Iommi is nothing short of outstanding, his guitar work is crisp and clear but always retains the power you'd expect and his solos are nigh on note perfect. Bill Ward on drums and Geezer Butler on bass provide the perfect accompaniment to Ozzy and Iommi and the whole band sound as tight as they did in their heyday. The crowd here know full well they're watching something a bit special!
I lost count of the number of times Ozzy tells the crowd 'I love you all!' but it really doesn't matter, he moves about the stage far better than you'd expect after his Osbournes shuffling and goes from one side of the stage to the other continually encouraging the crowd with call and answer moments. With so many great songs at their disposal every track they play is a highlight, 'Faeries Wear Boots' and 'Iron Man' are particularly memorable but nothing comes close to the rendition of 'Black Sabbath'. Requesting the crowd to hold their cigarette lighters aloft, as the chilling intro begins the video screens pan out over the crowd and the sight of thousands of lighters coupled with Ozzy's demonic vocals is quite breathtaking. The song itself is quite possibly the best of the evening, it seems every single person there knows every single word and those that aren't singing along are wearing broad smiles.
Once the initial sound problems are sorted out Black Sabbath sound fantastic, so powerful and so tight even those meagre few that aren't fans can't help but be impressed. Predictably the biggest roar of the evening and the moment when every single head in the arena is nodding comes with the all time classic 'Paranoid'. 'Sleeping Village' follows before the finale with 'Children Of The Grave', it's been a superb performance by the real masters of metal and judging by the look on their faces the whole band have enjoyed it too. After the band have gone we get 'Changes' played over the PA as outro music and it seems a fitting end to a great night. The younger kids that were here tonight will command bragging rights for years to come and rightly so!