In 1973, and in their flesh, Black Sabbath carved their behemoth mark into NZ music fans at the Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival. A music festival in Ngaruawahia sounds curious enough to whip up some investigative storm. Consequently, I found that Black Sabbath’s appetite for controversy came at the expense of a certain guitar amp that belonged to an unnamed member of an unspecified kiwi band. Anyway, they blew that amp and some people were pissed off with a certain guitarist. After witnessing the power that a live Black Sabbath show demands, I’d conclude that the alleged amp just wimped out; as would those who were in the lower downtown area on Monday night that were not looking for a dose of riffs from the early scandalmongers of the heavy metal genre.
Even though I tried my hardest to imagine myself in Ngaruawahia and that Sabbath carry the form they might have had going into 1973, the reality was that I was in Vector Arena and Ozzy Osbourne is 64.
Vector arena aside, Sabbath was gnarly. Although Monday’s mob was not treated to an encore they were privy to a bombastic solo from drummer Tommy Clufeto, filling in for original member Bill Ward. Bassist Geezer Butler unleashed his trademark pentatonic fury in tracks such as ‘NIB’ and ‘Paranoid’. Guitarist Tommi Iommi laid down the doom on classics that dug deep into early albums Black Sabbath and Paranoid (1970). Songs such as ‘Children of the Grave’, ‘Electric Funeral’ and ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ received plenty of attention from a lively Vector crowd, as did classic Sabbath anthems ‘Iron Man’, ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Black Sabbath’.
There were timely reminders that this was a tour for their upcoming album 13 with ‘God Is Dead?’ and ‘End of the Beginning’. While the new material was woven with the fabric of signature Black Sabbath sound, they could not compete with their early gear and were off the pace somewhat. Nevertheless the metal heads, hard-rock enthusiasts and Rock FM listeners that witnessed Sabbath live would have left well-satisfied. Those who missed it are most probably fans of Ronnie James Dio’s work.
REVIEWED BY BEN BLACKMAN