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Ghost Canyon

Concert Reviews
Black Sabbath
(DTE Enegery Theatre, Clarkston, MI - August 6th, 2013)

A throng of people gathered together at DTE Music Theater on Tuesday night to observe the sabbath--Black Sabbath, that is. Indeed, heavy metal masters Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and the incomparable Ozzy Osbourne dropped by to show us what they could do, make us play some air guitar, and, perhaps, offend a few of us in the process...all in the name of rock and roll.

Insert 'devil horn' hand gesture here.

I'd never been much of a Sabbath fan, but was immediately taken by the fact that nearly everyone else in the place seemed to be, the audience pretty much provided backing vocals on opening number 'War Pigs.' "Lemme see your f***ing hands!" the vocalist commanded. And when Ozzy tell you to do something, you freaking do it.

Insert 'devil horn' hand gesture here.

The night carried on with a setlist that included songs such as ‘Snowblind,’ ‘Age of Reason,’ and the eponymous ‘Black Sabbath.’ For his part, Osbourne seemed more energetic than I’d have ever given him credit for, bouncing up and down a little bit, and directing us in side-to-side arm waves. He appeared happy to be there, too, punctuating songs with “Thank you. God bless you all.” The background display included pretty impressive lasers, while the video screens occasionally showed anti-reliigous imagery, which left me asking “is all that really necessary?” I’m still not sure.

But the screens and what few lyrics I was able to decipher (it is Ozzy, after all) seemed relatively small potatoes when stacked against the music itself. Both Iommi and Butler shredded their instruments, especially Geezer, who played so fast I could barely see his fingers move! He was instantly catapulted into my Top 5 Bassists list.

Another one of the things that stuck with me over the course of the evenings were the sheer stupidity of some of the song titles: ‘Fairies Wear Boots?’ ‘Rat Salad?’ Come on, now... And just what the hell is a ‘Methademic,’ anyway? Nonetheless, it was all well-received by the raucous crowd. ‘Rat Salad’ dissolved into a drum solo by drummer Tommy Clufetos that lasted several minutes. It sounded awesome, and I’m sure it looked just as cool...but I couldn’t see very well for the blinding yellow light shining directly in my face and the haze of smoke that engulfed the area I was sitting in.

My personal highlight of the show came next, with Iommi giving us one of rock’s most memorable--and most pluckable--riffs: ‘Iron Man.’ This one had everything: Fist pumps, head banging, singing along, and a whole lot of air guitar, for I’d be a proper liar if I said I didn’t fake my way through one of the very first licks I ever learned on my own guitar! It was rad.

Insert ‘devil horn’ hand gesture here.

The very next song was one that I still find myself thinking about, a number called ‘God is Dead.’ From the outset, it would seem to have profound atheistic themes. However, Ozzy and co. totally throw a curveball with lyrics like “Lost in the darkness I fade from the light/Faith of my father, my brother, my maker and Saviour/Help me make it through the night.” The song lyrics wonder about Heaven and Hell, but the conclusion that is eventually reached is “I don’t believe that God is dead.” If Sabbath had turned me off toward the beginning of the set with images of exploding crosses and burning Bibles and other such things, this song almost seemed...redemptive. And that was comforting. We left before the encore happened, but I’ve heard that the set included ‘Paranoid,’ the other song I knew. Rats.

I had gotten tickets to Black Sabbath’s concert as a 22nd birthday present. And I had come there absolutely laden with pre-conceived notions. Now, less than 72 hours later, I can safely say I’ve been able to draw my own conclusions: The first and biggest one is that they are musically fantastic. As a ‘newbie’ on the heavy metal scene, I can see exactly why all those rock and roll magazines hold them in such high regard. I also learned that any band can have an image, and that they will strive to uphold it for the sake of their fans. Black Sabbath has cultivated over the decades a very sinister--some would say evil--image, but I never once saw on their stage a pentagram, goat head, altar, or any other overt Satanic icon, which leads me to believe that it’s all more hype than anything else, and the band just rolls with it. And regardless of belief or unbelief, I dig Ozzy. He seems like a pretty mellow dude.

Just my take, anyway.

Would I go see Black Sabbath again? Probably not. It’s just not my scene. But I’m certainly glad I got the chance to see them once.

Review by: Ashley J. Trombley