“Vote” Black Sabbath – they rocked Montreal on election day
By: Jeff Shoer
I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news. Black Sabbath is touring again and they are going to play Montreal on April 7th, 2014 (the same night as Québec’s Provincial election results were given).
I doubt the chosen date was a political statement, despite playing the Colisée Pepsi in Québec City two nights prior and then heading off to play a show in London, Ontario on the 9th of April down highway 401.
I’ve thought it would be their last tour so many times, I gave up guessing. Ironically, the first time I went to see ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne (the band’s lead singer) was on his solo ‘Retirement Sucks’ tour in 1995 at the Verdun Auditorium. Since those days, the big question always lingers – How will that signature voice of his sound now?
The last time I saw them, I was just out of University and couldn’t believe they got back together then (after a lengthy breakup). A whole article could be written about their history and drama, but I couldn’t give a rat’s salad (they played ‘Rat Salad’ a short instrumental at the show), to me it’s about the music. I immediately called up the friend who joined me for their 1999 Reunion Tour.
Our rock reunion would also include requisite stops for ‘squeaky cheesed’ Poutine at Mont Royal Hot Dog before the show, and Restaurant Boustan for a Chicken ‘Shish Taouk’ pita and garlic mayo lathered potatoes après. Good thing the garlic portion was after or our breath could have cleared out the whole ‘Club Section’.
Walking out of the Metro station, it was visually apparent that this was no Justin Bieber concert. The median age seemed to be heading up the hill with signs of greying. Truth told there were some pockets of youth (I felt so with my hand drawn bristol board sign in hand).
What does it matter, we’re all getting older. The original band members definitely are, but they don’t play rock like old geezers!
Black Sabbath, (a rock band formed in Birmingham, England in 1968 then called ‘Earth’ and playing heavy blues rock) have been at this music making and performing gig a very long time. You do the math – that’s a whole heck of a lot o’ rock n’ roll.
I won’t get into comparing and contrasting every concert I’ve been to, or dissect each song and wishing they played this-or-that. I will say there have been some memorable shows and some not as much. Shows of varying lengths and sound quality, with sick and/or tired band members, and even one I may have sung better in the shower.
This Black Sabbath concert in support of their “13” Album at the Bell Centre was like a time warp back to the days of old. The question of sound was mute…Ozzy and the boys were quite spot on (especially for guys of 60 plus, including the two other original members ‘Geezer’ Butler on bass and ‘Tony’ Iommi on guitar), rocking their respective instruments – big time. Their presence together on stage for longer than I’ve been alive is the stuff of Rock n Roll legend.
The almost sold out, fist pumping and head bobbing crowd was treated to 17 songs from the lengthy opening song “War Pigs” to the final short and punchy number “Paranoid”. They did not disappoint. Even the volume was right for the aging crowd. They played a few from their latest album “13” including “End of the Beginning”, plus a mix of classics like “Black Sabbath”, and crowd pleasers like “Iron Man” – including an arm numbing drum solo by bandana wearing and long bearded drummer Tommy Clufetos (not nearly as old as their original drummer ‘Bill’ Ward). The whole set list can be found online.
On the eve of the big election, there were no politics here, simply a momentous concert spectacle in the official language of rock music.
Mr. Osbourne was not as animated or energetic and back in the day, but as long as these guys aren’t “Rock n Roll retirees”, I’m good with that. In the end it was one of the better I’ve seen. On exiting the building into drops of cold rain, the question remained – Will we ever see Black Sabbath chez Montréal? If they can still rock it – j’espère!
By Jeff Shoer