By Ben Doy
Artist: Black Sabbath with support from Shihad
Date / Venue: Saturday April 20th, Vector Arena, Auckland
Last night was unquestionably a bucket list moment, and to be honest one that I never thought would eventuate.
The reformed Black Sabbath returned to New Zealand and played their first show on our shores since appearing at The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival way back in 1973. And on arrival at for us at theVector Arena you could feel the electricity in the air, the buzz and anticipation of the crowd. We were finally about to see these rock heroes live.
You couldn't have asked for a more fitting opening act for Black Sabbath than New Zealand's own Shihad. With support bands, there can sometimes be a feeling that they're just there to fill up a bit time while the punters get themselves a few drinks and find there seats. This was NOT the case with Shihad! For anyone that has ever seen Shihad perform live you will know they are arguably one of New Zealand's finest live acts around. The Kiwi boys grew up on a diet of Black Sabbath and as front man Jon Toogood explained, "It's a fuckin' honour and a dream come true." (Check out this classic photo from Shihad's Facebook page).
They played a fantastic set and you could see they were soaking up the atmosphere. Stand out tracks were‘Screwtop' from their debut album Churn, ‘The General Electric' and my personal favourite ‘You Again'. "I get to tell my Grandkids I played with Black Sabbath" Toogood yelled. Can it get much better than that?
Following Shihad's set we don't have to wait long for the main event to start. The Vector Arena is completely packed at this point, in fact I don't know of I've ever seen it as choc-o-bloc as this. As the curtain slowly lifts we get our first glimpse of the legendary Sabbath, and the familiar riff of ‘War Pigs' blasts round the arena.
They looked great. The bewildered looking Ozzy Osbourne was genuinely enjoying himself, endlessly dowsing himself and the crowd with buckets of water. Cool and calm, bassist Geezer Butler was true to his classic form and locked everything in with drummer Tommy Clufetos (who was added to the band after Sabbath was unable to come to an agreement with their original drummer Bill Ward).
But guitarist Tony Iommi was absolutely remarkable. It was just over a year ago that Iommi was diagnosed with cancer, seemingly putting the long awaited reunion in jeopardy. You wouldn't have known to look at him, he was fantastic and appears to be recovering well. "He's the real Iron Man" Osbourne hollered about his band-mate.
We were treated to favourites such as the haunting ‘Black Sabbath' and the head rocking ‘N.I.B'. Clufetos gave his band mates a bit of a break as we got to check out his chops with a very entertaining drum solo. If there were any who were sceptical of Clufetos performing in place of Ward, this should have got them nodding in approval that he was a worthy replacement.
After recharging their batteries Sabbath returned to the stage with the slow heavy and powerful ‘Iron Man'and finished off with ‘Children Of The Grave'. But of course that couldn't be it. They returned for a well-deserved and outstanding encore with ‘Paranoid'.
It was great to see that they defintely still "have it" and I would have to say this is the best concert I have frequented in quite some time. The songs, the stage presence, the aura... all second to none. Many I talked to are even going to snatch up tickets to the second show, also at the Vector Arena tomorrow night. If you're considering going, be in quick as after last night's show tickets will go fast. It's one concert you absolutely do not want to miss.
Black Sabbath Setlist
1. War Pigs
2. Into the Void
3. Under the Sun
5. Electric Funeral
6. Black Sabbath
7. Behind the Wall of Sleep
9. End of the Beginning
10. Fairies Wear Boots
11. Symptom of the Universe
12. Drum Solo
13. Iron Man
14. God is Dead?
15. Dirty Women
16. Children of the Grave