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Heavier than the rest; Black Sabbath Birmingham Academy.

Byline: Andrew Cowen

This was always going to be one of those nights. The original Black Sabbath, on home turf with the sort of crowd normally only seen at cup finals or Christian revival meetings.

A stack of amps and the biggest drum kit in the world mean only one thing: the Sabbs are back and they mean business.

That Black Sabbath are the heaviest heavy metal band in the world is beyond debate and the fact they can still out-rock the competition 30 years down the line is nothing short of stupendous.

From the opening N.I.B to closing Children of the Grave, this was vintage Sabbath. Ozzy Osbourne was clearly loving every minute of it, endulging in expletive-strewn banter with the packed house.

More accustomed to playing in stadia, the relative intimacy of the Academy allowed many their first close-up sight of the band.

Tony Iommi is still the archetypal guitar hero, wringing out skull-crushing riffs and squeals from his trusty Gibson SG. The rhythm section of Geezer Butler and Bill Ward provide a visceral bedrock of sound.

Sweet Leaf, Fairies Wear Boots, War Pigs and Paranoid went down a storm, while one new track, Scary Dreams, proved that Iommi hasn't lost the knack of penning a killer riff.

Ozzy had the crowd in his grip from the first bar and the house lights were trained on to the audience as often as they were on the band.

A sea of outstretched hands from the back of the venue to the front was testament to the enduring myth of the band. You don't get to be the biggest without being the best and Black Sabbath aren't about to rest on their laurels. The show also raised pounds 23,500 for a local homeless persons charity.

Andrew Cowen


Black Sabbath, still out rocking the heaviest of rockers after 30 years
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 24, 2001
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