Black Sabbath are playing their last ever gig in Birmingham tonight, after nearly 50 years together, and generally being acclaimed as the founders of the heavy metal genre that is still going strong. I finally got to see them at last year’s Download, and was about five rows from the front, after going down near the front during Sixx A.M. about five hours before, wanting to also be down there during Megadeth.
While some will consider me conceited, egotistical or tight, and I’m self-reflective enough to agree with all of them to a certain extent, this is my blog, and I’m trying to be a little bit interesting, in a middle-aged kind of way, so I think I’m entitled to point out that I did fit a couple of totally unplanned endurance feats into the festival, which are both cool and uncool, greenYgrey style!:
- I was probably the only person who did the festival in sandals! I just took a pair of trainers and sandals, with the latter for sunny weather. However, having gone out on the Friday afternoon in sunny weather wearing sandals, there was a big storm (was the Woman God angry that I chose Graveyard over Babymetal?), and the site turned into a mudbath. I thought there was no point getting my trainers filthy, so continued to wear sandals.
- I never spent a penny during the whole festival! I thought about having a few pints of the festival’s reasonably priced Dogtooth ale, with Saturday night after Black Sabbath looking the most likely time. However, the rain on Friday, and more rain during Black Sabbath dampened my spirits, and I decided to go for the endurance feat of living off a few snacks I took the whole time, in a waterlogged tent. Metallica’s Master of Puppets was playing as I passed the beer tent, and then Guns N’ Roses’s Paradise City started as I walked out of earshot. Getting a taste for the beer and ending up lost on the site and falling head-down into the deep mud was also a factor.
Black Sabbath: My History
There are no classic era Black Sabbath love songs, which is a pretty cool endurance feat for a heavy metal band: avoiding ‘selling out’. However, Ozzy has in his solo career, and Black Sabbath have with other singers.
Traditional heavy metal had its downside for me when I started following it around 1980, as I was a vegetarian from about 1978 to 1983, and rock fans weren’t known for being considerate to animal welfare. Ozzy stories were at the forefront of this, with tales of biting a bat and chicken.
That was one of the reasons I preferred the Black Sabbath line-up with Ronnie James Dio to the Ozzy solo career. I bought a ticket to see Black Sabbath at Cardiff Sophia Gardens (about 90 miles from my home then) for January 13th, 1982, but snowfall caved the roof in beforehand, and it was cancelled. It would have been my second concert, after seeing Saxon there the previous year. In the summer of 1982 I went to my first festival, with the three-days Reading Festival full of heavy metal and heavy rock that year, with the genre enjoying mainstream success off the back of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM).
I first saw Ozzy at Donington when they headlined in 1986. I still wasn’t a big fan of Ozzy, and wanted to see The Scorpions playing before them more, with their Worldwide Live album my favourite at the time, a year before Appetite for Destruction took over. But Ozzy’s enthusiasm and quality songs off the first two solo albums won me over.
So last year I saw Black Sabbath with Ozzy, 37 years after following a genre they started, although without original drummer Bill Ward. It lived up to expectations, hearing the full force of some of the best evergreen classic songs of the rock and metal genre, and seeing the most legendary of metal bands live.
Black Sabbath Working-Class Role Models
Ozzy’s recent cheating shenanigans cloud his image for me like the early animal welfare ones did, but he is a rock n’ roll singer, not setting himself as an upstanding role model like many celebrities and public representatives.
I think Ozzy’s still a good thing for the working-class, as he’s written some great lyrics, being very successful at what he does, and his continuing exuberant charm show the nice funny side of our demographic.
However, I think guitarist Tony Iommi is the most impressive of the band, as he showed how to continue through terrible adversity, and that it can lead to good things. From Wikipedia: ‘At the age of 17, Iommi lost the tips of the middle and ring finger of his right hand in an industrial accident on his last day of work in a sheet metal factory… (to continue playing)… he fitted homemade thimbles made from melted plastic bottles to his injured fingers to extend and protect them, which created two technical problems… In 1974, Iommi told Guitar Player magazine that the thimbles “helped with his technique” because he had to use his little finger more than he had before the accident.’
The cursor is going slow now, telling me I’ve written too much, so I’ll quit now, and just wish everybody involved with Black Sabbath’s final concert tonight a great time… without them, maybe there’d have been no greenYgrey or POP!
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