Reunions can be hit or miss.
Maybe it’s been too long, maybe you’ve lost your chops, maybe you’re getting old and things just aren’t working the way they used to. Maybe your drummer doesn’t want to play. In the case of Black Sabbath, thankfully, only the latter was true (and it didn’t seem to matter much), and as fans at the Shoreline Ampitheatre witnessed on Monday night, reunions can be a beautiful thing.
It probably didn’t hurt that the band was promoting an album that it is, rightfully, very proud of. The Rick Ruben-produced, 13, is Black Sabbath’s first #1 album in the States, and while it probably won’t get a third or fourth listen from most longtime Sabbath fans, it’s still pretty damn good.
The big question mark going in -- at least for those of us who had been checking in on how this tour was going -- was around Ozzy’s voice. Was he going to be able to bring it? There were some sad reviews regarding the subject from the Northeast leg and YouTube videos to support them, but by the time he got to “evil minds that plot destructiooooooon,” on the “War Pigs” opener, it was clear that he brought it. It was going to be a good night.
From a distance, the Prince of Darkness, looked a bit like the Grandma of Darkness, shuffling around the stage, engaging with Tony and Geezer, both of whom were flawless, and throwing the occasional bucket of water into the front rows. He even managed to get a few jumps in here and there (he was wearing sensible New Balance shoes).
Locomotive issues aside, Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, and the young Tommy Clufetos delivered sweet doom to their adoring fans, slow and heavy. Most of the hits were there, punctuated by the occasional deeper cuts.
The first real frenzy arrived four songs in with “Snowblind,” but there was nary a dull moment before or after. “Dirty Women” was kind of a snoozer, but at least the behind-stage video production featured a nice edit of vintage boobs to keep us entertained. About two-thirds in, after “Fairies Wear Boots” and “Rat Salad,” the OGs shuffled off, leaving the young-blood Clufetos behind his behemoth kit, where he proceeded to bang out a remarkably long, but also pretty remarkable (nobody is missing Bill Ward at this point), drum solo.
It was easily long enough for the old-timers to pee, take their meds, get dialysis, or whatever it is old rockers do when they take a break (The pee break for the rest of us came in the form of “Is God Dead?,” the nine-minute single off 13. It’s pretty good, but not nine-minutes good.)
The drum blitz went right into “Iron Man,” which obviously got everyone worked up, but was really the last high-point of the pre-encore show, which closed out with the aforementioned single, “Dirty Women,” and “Children of the Grave,” on which Ozzy’s vocals started to go a bit flat. He was, however, able to revive his pipes for the obvious encore, “Paranoid.”
The between-song banter was filled with graititude and mentions of the copious amounts of Northern California pot smoke. Always included were two-three F-bombs, mostly in the form of “let me see your fucking hands,” “Go fucking crazy,” or “We fucking love you.” We did, and we fucking love you, too.