Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA, USA – September 19, 2016
Disc 1 (58:59) Intro, Black Sabbath, Fairies Wear Boots, After Forever, Into The Void, Band Introductions, Snowblind, War Pigs, Behind The Wall Of Sleep, Basically / N.I.B.
Disc 2 (79:52) Hand Of Doom, Rat Salad incl. Drum Solo, Iron Man, Dirty Women, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid. Soundcheck: MC Intro, Keyboard & Guitar, Drums, Bass & Symptom Of The Universe, Sweet Leaf, Iron Man, Guitar & Bass
The legendary metal band Black Sabbath announced in 2015 their retirement tour would commence under the moniker “The End”. The tour that followed was pretty massive and consisted of multiple legs and was certainly a worldwide undertaking, let’s face it, fans had to pay homage to this legendary act one last time. The news of the band’s decision not to tour anymore was not without a bit of drama as it was announced that again, original drummer Bill Ward would not take part in the festivities and Tommy Clufetos would again be occupying the drum stool. The announcement came as no surprise, the question came up at the end of the touring cycle for the excellent 13 record, in interviews from the period, the band gave elusive answers to the questions, certainly the talks were already happening to address the group’s future. Even the bootleggers were sucked in, Zodiac released The Last Ever Gig (Zodiac 071) featuring a recording from London’s Hyde Park in 2014, for those really wanting to hear “The End”, the band officially released a document of the final performance, in Birmingham, England February 4, 2017.
Official release aside, the Zodiac label are the only ones to release a silver collectible document from this tour. This new title comes from the excellent IEM recording that made the rounds on the internet, certainly the source for many of the labels titles. The recording is excellent, clear and extremely detailed with just a bit of white noise, for lack of a better term and at times what sounds like frequency static. There is virtually no audience noise, you only hear them off in the distance a few times so the overall feel is dry and lacking of atmosphere. On the plus side, this sounds great loud and to further entice you, the label also included the 36 minute soundcheck, again done by the same ingenious taper.
The band played a pretty standard set list on the tour, no real surprise yet no real clunkers either. The band sound excellent, for men in the late 60’s, save for Clufetos and keyboardist Adam Wakeman (son of the legendary Rick Wakeman), they have not missed a beat and the playing is tight and very heavy. Ozzy’s vocals are very good, again he is 69 so he does not sound like 1975, his voice is deeper and he does not hit the highs, but does an excellent job. He does the songs justice and while he still employs a teleprompter, who cares. All of his trademark Ozzyisms are here, “We Love You All”, Let Me See Your Hands”, simply one of the greatest front men in Rock, period.
The set opens with the sounds of a rain storm as Ozzy asks the crowd if they are going to go wild, they respond in spades as Tony plays the iconic riff to Black Sabbath. The music is played as it should, slow and heavy as hell. Love Fairies Wear Boots early in the set, again the opening riff is great and the song really swings. While you know the band will play the “hits”, we get a few golden nuggets from the group’s past. After Forever was one of the songs I enjoyed most during the 1999 reunion tour, and I enjoy it now. Killer riff and excellent lyric from Geezer questioning one’s faith. Upon close listening you hear something you could live, at least I couldn’t, Adam Wakeman providing some backing vocals, helping to give the vocals a bit of a boost.
Into The Void takes me bake to that Ozzfest in 1997 when the headliner was Black Sabbath, my first time seeing three fourths of the classic line up together and they played this song, just an ultra heavy deep track from Master Of Reality that has been in their sets lists off and on over the last 20 years. Just prior OZZY has to get the crowd going, and after they put some balls into it, finally meet his expectations. Snowblind is introduced as being about a substance they don’t do anymore as they are too old, the song features some subtle keyboards that really gives the song that Vol. 4 vibe. Cuckoo cuckoo is the prelude to the superb Behind The Wall Of Sleep, the group swings like a jazz band at the beginning, would have been cool for the band to improvise instrumentally a bit and play some snippets of Wicked World, Warning, or even Sleeping Village to give it even more old School vibe and let’s mention Geezer’s bass playing is excellent as well, damn what a musician!
Another of the gems from the set is Hand Of Doom, from the excellent Paranoid record. Played only sporadically in the past 20 years, it retains all of its primal force, again Adam doubles Ozzy’s voice to perfection. With the set list being heavy on the Paranoid record, Rat Salad is a perfect chance for the “seniors” to take a break while Tommy entertains the crowd, cool with me just to hear the classic band jam leading to the solo. Dirty Women is the only song written after 1972 to make the set, again a song I never tire of and like it live, it has a heavier, ballsier sound. Paranoid is the perennial set closer, as it should be. The aforementioned 36 minute soundcheck is cool to listen to but for me, did not make it for repeated listens. The MC portion is difficult to hear so you have a period of nothing. Adam Wakeman briefly warms up with a bit of Mr. Crowley that is cool and the band jam on Symptom Of The Universe and Sweet Leaf, both sadly without vocals. Ozzy comes out and the whole band do Iron Man for the “VIP’s” and that’s pretty much it. It’s too bad Zodiac did not use an audience recording to matrix this to give it more depth and life, nonetheless most any live Sabbath is good for me.
The packaging is typical for Zodiac, full color inserts featuring posed and live shots coupled with official band graphics, the cover insert folds open to a nice wide angle live shot, and let’s not forget picture CD’s and collectible sticker. For Sabbath fans and metal freaks in general, this is a cool title to seek out.