Three of the four original members of Black Sabbath reformed to close out the Download Festival on Sunday, June 10, 2012. See the set list, and fan video of the encore of “Paranoid” here!
Singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler appeared without Bill Ward — after the original drummer bowed out over a contract dispute. The original trio is at work on a long-awaited new album, their first together since 1978. Ward was replaced by Ozzy Osbourne band drummer Tommy Clufetos.
Several of the band’s other most expected tracks were also featured, including “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” “Black Sabbath,” “N.I.B.,” “Sweet Loaf” and “Snowblind.” Amongst the more interesting deep cuts were “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” the H. P. Lovecraft-themed track from the band’s 1970 self-titled debut; the dark post-apocalyptic “Electric Funeral,” from 1970’s Paranoid; “Tomorrows Dream” and “Wheels of Confusion” from 1972’s Vol. 4; and “Symptom of the Universe” from 1975’s deeply underrated Sabotage, among others.
“You have do something for me on this last song,” Osbourne said just before the band tore into “Children Of The Grave.”: “Go fucking nuts.” Earlier, before “Dirty Women,” he said: “When we first formed 40 odd years ago, I had no idea we’d be here doing this.”
This troubled reunion has been slowed time and again by devastating news — beginning when Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma. Writing sessions then moved from L.A. to England, where the legendary guitarist underwent cancer treatment. Ward, however, did not make the trip, issuing a statement saying he could not unless a “signable contract” was drawn up.
Ward later said the sticking points included a series of alleged demands made by Sharon Osbourne, wife and manager of Ozzy Osbourne, the group’s original lead singer. Fans took to Facebook to lobby for Ward, launching a page dubbed 1,000,000 Black Sabbath Fans Say Yes To Bill Ward, to no avail.
Another Sabbath fan has set up a Twitter account called “Sabbath Soap Opera” — and the username @Back_Stabbath — to post parody items on the on-going saga.
Here’s the Black Sabbath setlist for June 10, 2012:
‘Behind The Wall Of Sleep’
‘Into The Void’
‘Under The Sun’
‘Wheels of Confusion’
‘Symptom Of The Universe’
‘Fairies Wear Boots’
‘Children of the Grave’
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Here’s a look back at previous thoughts on Black Sabbath, and related solo projects. Click though the title for complete reviews …
BLACK SABBATH – SABOTAGE (1975): The end of Sabotage also begins the fade out of the Ozzy era of the band. Though the two records that followed both have their moments, it wasn’t until 1980 and the entrance of Dio that the band put out another truly amazing record with a sound so altered that, at times, it would be hard to identify the music as Sabbath. There’s also a very powerful argument to be made for that record as the band’s best, but I’ll save that one for another time. Sabotage isn’t likely to overtake the groundbreaking debut record or the hit-filled Paranoid as Sabbath’s best work in most people’s minds, and I understand that. But the next time you’re looking for a Sabbath fix, dig a little deeper and give it a listen, especially if you haven’t heard it in a while. It might just be a much better record than you remember.
BLACK SABBATH – THE DIO YEARS (2007): While I was aware of the Ronnie James Dio-fronted version of the band, I just never got around to checking them out. I moved on from being a metal die-hard for a while to other things, but in recent years have been slowly re-integrating a lot of older metal material. What we’ve got here is five tracks from Heaven and Hell, four from Mob Rules, three from Dehumanizer, one from Live Evil, and three brand-new songs that Dio wrote. So, finally, after all this time, the Dio-era Sabbath is finding a home in my collection.
OZZY OSBOURNE – BLIZZARD OF OZZ/ DIARY OF A MADMAN (1980/81): In my opinion, Diary of a Madman is Ozzy’s finest hour outside of Black Sabbath. While his debut had a few duds — “No Bone Movies” comes immediately to mind, and though it may seem like sacrilege to some fans, I’ve never liked “Revelation (Mother Earth),” either — Diary is a far more consistent record from beginning to end, and there’s not a single track that I skip every listen. 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz, of course, features some of Ozzy’s best-known songs, including “I Don’t Know,” “Mr. Crowley” and perhaps his most recognizable solo hit, “Crazy Train.” It also features one of my personal favorite guitar instrumentals, Randy Rhoads’ neo-classical jaunt, “Dee.”
WHOCARES, FEATURING TONY IOMMI AND IAN GILLAN – OUT OF MY MIND (2011): For all the mediocre music he shelled out under the Black Sabbath name following the departure of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi is making amends later in life. His reunion of the Dio-era Sabbath lineup under the name Heaven and Hell a few years ago produced the best Black Sabbath record (and it was Sabbath, no matter what the cover said) since the same lineup reunited in 1992 for Dehumanizer. With WhoCares, he’s back together with Ian Gillan, who fronted Sabbath briefly after Dio left, for a great charity record to benefit the rebuilding of a music school in Armenia that was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1988.