Black Sabbath, Qudos Bank Arena, Apr 23rd 2016

Deafening chimes with huge sporadic percussion bellowed throughout a packed Qudos Bank Arena. Everyone was caught off guard with an eight-minute premature stage presence, a fittingly uneasy prelude for what was to come from Black Sabbath.

One minute you’d be comparing Ozzy Osbourne to a drunk yet endearingly harmless uncle and the next his demonic eyes and hellraiser persona would break on through. It was tantalising but it was confusing. In the midst of Osbourne played an absolutely stellar line-up of musicians. Tony Iommi made industrial riffs at the simple twinkle of his fingers.

Psychedelic imagery set the tone for Fairies Wear Boots as distorted live footage simulated an acid-washed version of Sgt Pepper‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Iommi effortlessly shredded and Osbourne nodded along, a quasi headbang.

Osbourne’s introduction to War Pigs was as incomprehensible in dialect as it was once known as a political anthem — he shuffled along the stage donning a bra that had been gifted to him by one of the many bare-chested women in the mosh pit.

Then redemption reigned from a haphazard start as the second half gained traction and synergy. Climatic points one and two came from Geezer Butler’s solo in N.I.B — it felt like a dark sonar message — and drummer Tommy Clufetos. 15-minute ear-bursting drum solo. This spiritual spectacle had everyone spellbound as he speed-bagged, cha-cha’ed, and bonged on the same drum set. The energy, the technique and the sound were surreal. When it was over the crowd were at their feet hailing this Jesus-like figure.

With the energy at fever-pitch it was the perfect time to roll out the classics and watch the mosh pit get heavier and Osbourne get crazier: making random “cuckoo” noises, throwing a bucket of water over the crowd and cackling devilishly.

Children Of The Grave was savagely powerful and authentic — it was this moment that showed the crowd’s presence, as the arena’s respect for these Gods Of Metal reverberated with the shattering bass.

To no one’s surprise, yet no one’s disappointment, Paranoid made for the encore, and those piercingly electric lines had people’s feet shuffling to the hysteria of such a classic.

The band so humbly thanked the crowd, knowing this will be their last grace on a Sydney stage and Osbourne mumbled “God bless you all,” a paradox within himself, both the Anti and the Christ.

Hayley May Casey.

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