Often regarded as the pioneers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath have slayed the music industry for nearly fifty years. Formed in Birmingham in 1968 by Ozzy Osbourne (lead vocals), Tony Iommi (lead guitar and main songwriter), Geezer Butler (bass and lead lyricist) and Bill Ward (drummer), the band have been through multiple line-up changes, and eventually the founding members of the band (excluding Bill Ward) found their way back to each other, embarking on their final leg of shows entitled The End Tour.
Beginning in Omaha on 20th January 2016 and ending in the city where it all began on 4th February 2017, the tour marks the final farewell from the legendary trio, including drummer Tommy Clufetos and keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Adam Wakeman. Alongside Sabbath, blues rock band Rival Sons have been the sole support act for their headlining shows. As amazing as Rival Sons were, however, when it’s an emotional farewell tour from such a legendary band, an opening act didn’t seem as welcomed as they could have been; everyone in the arena was on edge waiting to witness one of the last times to see Sabbath live.
After Rival Sons left the stage, the wait for Sabbath began whilst the stage was being set up. This left a small amount of time for the audience to ponder over the current political and social climate. From Brexit in the UK to Drumpf becoming President of the United States, Sabbath’s final tour couldn’t have come at a better time. Sabbath are known for their themes of political and social instability, drug culture, apocalyptic prophecies, the horrors of war and corrupt governmental power. These themes are heavily explored in the tracks ‘War Pigs’, ‘Children of the Grave’, ‘N.I.B.’ and ‘After Forever’, all of which were included on the setlist and garnered the most excitement and applause from the audience.
These themes were accentuated by the immense pyrotechnics and effects provided by Wiltshire based Quantum Special Effects. Their team of designers, engineers and technicians have provided pyrotechnics, confetti, atmospheric dry ice and even rain to a number of events including Download Festival, Reading and Leeds, Glastonbury and the MTV VMAs and EMAs. Remember the stunning Olympic rings at the London 2012 Opening ceremony? That was them.
For The End Tour, Quantum provided their unique and tailor made pyrotechnics to enhance Sabbath’s prescence on stage, including flame bars that were placed flat on top of the amps to give the illusion that they were on fire, alongside fire plumes that were set off to the beat of the music; especially prevalent in the performance of ‘War Pigs’. During ‘Children of the Grave’, black and purple balloons erupted from the rafters (provided by Matt Lewis Displays), followed by the encore and final song ‘Paranoid’ where confetti cannons were set off marking the end of Sabbath with a bang.
Sabbath themselves were insane as ever, delivering what you would expect from such an iconic band within the music industry. Geezer let rip with his wah-wah induced introduction to ‘N.I.B.’, Iommi shredded like there was no tomorrow for the solo in ‘Dirty Woman’, and Ozzy got the crowd going crazy for his antics and constant gratitude.
Whilst there is a haze of sadness surrounding this tour due to it being Black Sabbath’s farewell, there is a hell-of-a-lot of appreciation and celebration for how much they have given to their fans and music, and how long they’ve managed to stick around; and this gig definitely showcased that.