After buying my tickets as early as October (thanks to how quick the show was selling out) I was counting down the days until I’d finally see Black Sabbath on their final tour.
My life goal was to see Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Sabbath before I (or more likely they) die. I had seen Judas Priest in 2011 and 2014 and Iron Maiden back in 2012.
To celebrate this event my friend Doug and I decided to get to NYC early and just do some random stuff. We went to various places and did random things such as me purchasing Killer Codom and Poultrygiest, him buying Elmo’s Letter Adventure of all things, eating suishi in a manga store, eating at Planet Hollywood and getting a picture of a wax Ozzy and trying to trick people on my Facebook into thinking I met him.
When it got closer to showtime, we walked to 34th street and entered Madison Square Garden.I always knew this venue was huge but was shocked about just how massive it was. We went to the very top floor (though Doug’s ticket wasn’t for that section) and waited for the show to start.
The opening act was classic rock throwback Rival Sons. I hadn’t heard this band before, I just knew about them and that Doug really liked them (he had also seen them twice before). They came on stage and as soon as their first song “Electric Man” started I could instantly tell this would be a fun set. They were very bluesy, loud and the vocalist had great range. The sound was without a doubt Zeppelen influenced but they were able to give themselves a distinct sound and not sound like a cheap clone.
After Rival Sons explosive performance, it was time for the feature presentation. During Son’s set Doug was moved to his actual seat by security.
Black Sabbath started off with their self-titled song and as soon as that first note hit I was blown away. The sound was so spot on it was unbelievable. They then went into many classics such as “After Forever,” “Hand Of Doom” (which hasn’t been played since the 70’s),”War Pigs,” “Snowblind,” “N.I.B” and several more.
After “Rat Salad,” their touring drummer Tommy Clufetos did a long drum solo with flashing lights everywhere. Though this was a good solo it went on a little too long and made no sense to do as he’s not original drummer Bill Ward. After that solo they played “Iron Man,””Children of the Grave” and “Paranoid.” They also played “Dirty Women” which was an odd choice.
Although Sabbath played an hour and 20 minute set, it went by fast. My only problem was that other than “Dirty Women,” they didn’t play anything past “Volume 4.” It would have been nice to hear something from “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” or “Sabotage.” After the show, I met up with Doug who was hanging with our friends Jason and Rob and we left the venue after witnessing one of the best concerts any of us may ever see.
A party went on this Halloween at Montgomery, NY restaurant Brian’s Backyard BBQ. This (free) party included a costume contest, an outside haunted house and three tribute bands covering Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden classics.
Normally I don’t go out of my way to see cover bands but a free show with tributes to three of metal’s greats only five minutes away was something I just couldn’t pass up.
After a party with co-workers I picked up an older metalhead, my buddy Jay and his friend. After a short car ride consisting of jokes about Danzig making a Christmas album we got to the venue for some great music.
First up was the Priest cover band British Steel. My friend Branden and I went close to the stage when it was their time to get on. We were joined by several people including a drunken old woman.
After the band started their set with one of Priests newer songs “Dragonaut,” they then went into classics such as “Nightcrawler,” “Painkiller,” “Breaking the Law” and “Metal Gods.”
What impressed me the most was when they played “Free Wheel Burning.” I’ve seen Priest twice and they didn’t play it either time.
While not as good as Priest (obviously), the band did a good job playing the songs and was able to get the crowd going.
Never Say Die
Next up were Never Say Die – an Ozzy era Black Sabbath tribute.
Though the band was called “Never Say Die,” they didn’t play any songs from that album (thankfully). Instead, they opted for a mix of deep cuts and hits.
I was glad I got to hear some of my Ozzy era favorites such as “Wicked World,” “Snowblind,” “N.I.B” and “Children of the Grave.” The crowd was pleased with “War Pigs” and “Paranoid” (yet no “Iron Man”).
The crowd was a little more drunk than at this point, with drunk old ladies grabbing Branden (not making this up).
The band sounded great and I was glad that the singer didn’t fully try to copy Ozzy. Since I’ll be seeing the real Sabbath in February, lets see which band has the better set list.
The final band of the night was the Iron Maiden tribute Sanctuary.
They played “Caught Somewhere in Time,” “Flash of the Blade” and “Flight of Icarus” before the band took a break for the costume contest.
While I felt the hot girl dressed as a dragon ninja was the best, somehow an old lady dressed as a banana won. After the contest Sanctuary went back to playing.
They played many more greats such as “Powerslave,” the new single “Speed of Light,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Wrathchild.”
Sanctuary did such an awesome job covering Maiden’s songs to the point where if you were blindfolded you’d think it was the real deal. The singer would even talk to the audience in a British accent and acted like Bruce Dickinson on stage.
It was starting to get late and I had work the next day so I didn’t stay for the whole thing. I did however, stay long enough for my favorite Maiden song “Hallowed Be Thy” name which sounded epic.
Besides giving birth to Heavy Metal, Black Sabbath is one of the few bands that have conquered the world and still managed to stay on top for over 40 years.
Forming under the name “Polka Tulk” before becoming “Earth,” (and eventually Sabbath) the band formed in 1968 due to a flyer singer Ozzy Osbourne put out in a local music shop. In his book “Iron Man,” the bands legendary guitarist Tony Iommi (who had gone to school with Osbourne) says that although Osbourne wasn’t a very good singer, he had his own PA system – which in those days was hard to come by.
Its hard to believe something so extraordinary started due to settling over some gear.
Along with world renown bass player and drummer Terrence “Geezer” Butler and Bill Ward, the original lineup would release their classic self titled first full length in 1970 and would continue to dominate the world with record after record for eight years.
Shortly after the tour for 1978’s “Never Say Die,” Osbourne would be fired and would soon begin his solo career, launching himself to new heights and becoming the icon we know him as today. Replacing him would be then-“Rainbow” front man Ronnie James Dio. The lineup known as “Heaven and Hell” (featuring Vinny Appice on drums) would release four albums over the course of their careers, with decades between their last two albums.
Other lineups would persist during the 80’s and 90’s with Ian Gillian of “Deep Purple” fame and other singers. The only focal member would be Iommi until the early to mid 2000’s, when both the original and “Heaven and Hell” lineups would reunite for tours and albums before Dio’s death in 2010.
2013 would spark “13,” the first Sabbath album with the original lineup (sans Ward, who was replaced with Tommy Clufetos due to health, legal and management issues) followed by a world tour.
It was announced in September of 2014 that the band have made plans to enter the studio in 2015 for a final album and a farewell tour.
Never say “Die” indeed.
As much as people love Black Sabbath and Heaven and Hell’s bass player Terrance “Geezer” Butler, rarely do they mention his solo project GZR (also spelled Geezer and g//z/r/ depending on which album you’re listening to).
1995 saw the debut album “Plastic Planet,” which contained darker melodies than what Sabbath fans were used to featured the brooding vocals of Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell, Pedro Howse (who is also Butler’s nephew) on guitars and Deen Castronovo’s (Journey) drumming abilities on top of Butler’s iconic bass playing. The album received mixed reviews but established a small cult following. Songs such as “Seance Fiction” were met with praise due to the heavy rhythms and haunting vocals.
1996 and 1997 marked two more releases from GZR, the “Cycle of Sixty” EP and their sophomore album, “Black Science.” The lineup shifted from Bell to Clark Brown on vocals due to Bell’s commitments to Fear Factory. The style of the album continued in the same fashion as the first and was met with similar reviews as well. 1996 also saw the project release “Outworld,” a song exclusively for the Mortal Kombat soundtrack. After a handful of live performances in 1997, GZR would disband until 2005 when they would release their last album to date: “Ohmwork”.
“Ohmwork” was met with praise and another lineup shift, this time in the drum department. Castronovo would be replaced with Chad Smith (not Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smith from Anacrusis), who had been brought in for live dates in 1997. While continuing the trend of scientific and horror based lyrics, “Ohmwork” was a sonically different record than its predecessors, using more ambiance than before.
Butler would eventually play again for Black Sabbath and Heaven and Hell until this day, lending his expertise to several albums between the two bands. Butler has confirmed that GZR has been working on new material and is expecting to release a new album in 2015.