This Is The End My Friends: Black Sabbath Live in Kansas City, MO 02/17/2016

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There’s something to be said about a band that can pull together a ginormous crowd in Kansas City on a Wednesday night – 46 years after they literally re-invented popular music. Black Sabbath brought their signature riffing and catchy-yet-dissonant songwriting to the Sprint Center and a large crowd of headbangers, young and old, sang every word, guitar lick and drum fill back at them like it was their last night on Earth. Although Black Sabbath lives another day, this will be the last time the most legendary musical act of the past 45 years will ever tour.

The first three Black Sabbath’s did more to invent new genres of music and improve on old styles than most other group’s entire discography – thus they received the most attention on Sabbath’s final world tour. Opening with their eponymous, namesake tune – the inimitable “Black Sabbath” which was unlike anything in rock history when it was released in 1970 – the band jumped all around their first three albums. These included Sabbath staples such as “N.I.B.”, “War Pigs” and “Children of the Grave,” but we were also treated to 1970′s crawling “Hand of Doom” which, prior to this tour, hadn’t been performed since 1978, and “Snowblind” from the criminally underrated Volume 4 album. Of course there were massive sing-along’s to “Iron Man” and “Paranoid,” but even the songs a casual rock fan might not know received monstrous applause and raucous singing throughout the night.

Let’s be honest – the main concern with Black Sabbath these days is how Ozzy Osbourne sounds. It’s no secret that he’s had one of the most drug-fueled binges in rock and roll history and it’s all but (seemingly) diminished any attempt to sound like he used to. However, the 67 year old “Prince of Darkness” hit every note he needed to and gave a faithful (if modernized) rendition of classic songs averaging 4 decades in age. When he wasn’t bounding from one side of the stage to the other, he was constantly engaging with the crowd to wave their hands in time with the music or clap along. Despite everything after all these years, he is still an impressive showman. With original Sabbath drummer Bill Ward sitting out for the festivities, percussion duties fell to Tommy Clufetos who, among many other roles, is Ozzy’s drummer in his solo bands. Despite an extended underwhelming drum solo (seriously – if you aren’t Neil Peart or Absu’s Proscriptor – skip the drum solo) he did great filling the role. Bassist Geezer Butler had a massive tone that helped carry along the songs and added a good dose of low-end to the proceedings; it was awe-inspiring really.

But then there’s Tony Iommi.

To put it succinctly – without Tony Iommi, there is no heavy metal. His now legendary down-tuning and fuzzed-out guitar tone is a staple in rock the world over and is often imitated yet never matched. Seeing the man who turned rock and roll on its head perform the iconic riffs from “Black Sabbath” and “Children of the Grave” and have them come out heavier than is imaginable four decades down the line? It’s probably the closest anyone at the Sprint Center will get to the Holy Spirit in a physical form. Compared to the countless “shredders” on guitar that came after Sabbath, Tony Iommi can hold his own whether it’s a meaty riff or a catchy solo – the guitar on “Fairies Wear Boots” is a prime example of just how complex and expansive Mr. Iommi can be in the span of just one song. Just like Hendrix before him, Iommi effortlessly rattled off riffs and guitar solos while making it look easy. Maybe the greatest guitar performance Kansas City has ever seen.

Black Sabbath changed music history forever back in 1970. And with an unwavering history of quality and quantity, they’re still making history. If this truly is the final Black Sabbath tour ever – they certainly went out on a high note. Horns up!

Setlist:

  1. Black Sabbath
  2. Fairies Wear Boots
  3. After Forever
  4. Into The Void
  5. Snowblind
  6. War Pigs
  7. Behind The Wall of Sleep
  8. N.I.B.
  9. Hand of Doom
  10. Rat Salad
  11. Iron Man
  12. Dirty Women
  13. Children of the Grave
  14. Encore: Paranoid

About Jackson May

Read more from Jackson at Mandatory Metallica and follow him on Twitter at @Mankvill.

View all articles by Jackson May

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