“Is it the end my friend? Satan coming around the bend.”
Forty-six years after he sang that line in the song “Black Sabbath” on the album “Black Sabbath” by the band Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne delivered it again at the start of what was purportedly his legendary metal band’s last Twin Cities performance Monday night at Target Center.
There were no sightings of ol’ Beelzebub at the concert — unless maybe he got into the backstage VIP area — but guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler did show up and plug in behind the death-defying Osbourne, making it three out of four original Sabbath members bidding farewell on a tour they’re formally calling The End. The odd co-founder out, drummer Bill Ward, is still alive and kick-drumming, but wasn’t invited to the party.
Monday’s concert certainly did have a strong party vibe, despite most of the 12,000-plus fans being dressed in black and all of the thundering British quartet’s tunes being about death, demons and the damages of drugs.
For the most part, the band was strong, too. As most true fans knew going in, Osbourne’s greatest talent these days is yelling, “Let me see your [bleeping] hands!” about 50 times and then mumbling something indecipherable. His singing voice came through clearly and evenly about half the time, including during the lesser-sung nuggets “Snowblind” and “Under the Sun.” But he sounded as off as his old MTV reality show in the new one, “God Is Dead?” and even the popular classic “War Pigs.”
An issue that Who fans are also likely to face when Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend return to Target Center on May 1, Monday’s concert relied more on the continued strength and definitive sound of Sabbath’s influential guitarist than on the ever-weakening abilities of its singer.
Iommi worked his left-handed Gibson SG guitar like a giant wrecking ball in the opening riffs of “Fairies Wear Boots,” “Iron Man” and the lone encore song, “Children of the Grave.” But then he also came off like a careful surgeon in the solos for “Paranoid” and the rarities “Dirty Women” and “Hand of Doom.” His continued power and precision was especially impressive given his recent bout with lymphoma.
Butler, too, still efficiently snaked his fingers up and (mostly) down his bass neck in “N.I.B.” and some of the other deepest-grooving tunes.
As for the fill-in drummer, Tommy Clufetos — from Ozzy’s solo band — certainly proved heavy and capable enough to fill Ward’s shoes. About the only criticism you can make is he was too enthusiastic, his excited flailing and big smile sharply contrasting the stiff, Lurch-like presence of the other members.
Osbourne never acknowledged Ward’s absence and kept focused on the positives while cajoling the crowd for the last time.
“I’m afraid it is [the end], but we’ve had a blast and owe you guys thanks for that,” he said near the start of the show.
Or at least it sounded something like that.
Here's the set list from Monday:
- Black Sabbath
- Fairies Wear Boots
- After Forever
- Into the Void
- War Pigs
- Behind the Wall of Sleep
- Hand of Doom
- Rat Salad
- Iron Man
- God Is Dead?
- Under the Sun / Every Day Comes and Goes
- Dirty Women
- Encore: Children of the Grave