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Concert Reviews:
Black Sabbath bids Detroit area farewell at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Parting was such loud sorrow as Black Sabbath played what it says will be its final Detroit area show ever on Wednesday night, Aug. 31, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

It was the second Oakland County visit for iconic British hard rock group's The End farewell tour this year, following a February stop at the Palace of Auburn Hills. And like that show there was no weepy sentiment or protracted farewell messages on Wednesday night; frontman Ozzy Osbourne simply confirmed at one point that "this really is the end of Sabbath" after 48 years. "Thank you all for keeping it going this long," he added.

Other than that, the group -- including founding members Tony Iommi on guitar and Geezer Butler on bass, with Detroit native Tommy Clufetos on drums and Adam Wakeman (son of former Yes stalwart Rick Wakeman) on keyboards -- let the music do the talking, delivering a brawny 14-song, hour-and-45-minute set amidst modest production and bare-bones stating that hit all the essential highlights and dug deep for a few surprises from the group's catalog.

Black Sabbath didn't go particularly wide, however. The show sampled from just five of the group's nine albums and drew more than 40 percent of the set (six songs) from 1970's "Paranoid" -- certainly the best in its canon but completely ignoring the likes of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" or even 2013's chart-topping "13." Neverthless, the key favorites were there -- including the show-opening "Black Sabbath," epics such as "War Pigs" and "Iron Man," a propulsive "Children Of The Grave" and the encore "Paranoid" -- all highlighted by one or more solos by Iommi, still nimble and fluid depiste his battles with lymphoma the past few years.

Some of Wednesday's highights, meanwhile, came during those deepedr cuts. A Butler bass break neatly sequed "Behind The Wall Of Sleep" into a ferocious "N.I.B.," while "Hand Of Doom" was an epic that let the instrumentalist stretch out, even if it meandered at times. And "Dirty Women" from 1976's oft-discounted "Technical Ecstasy," was a solid rocker that showcased Iommi's most elaborate solo of the night.

Osbourne played his usual carnival barker self, often more adept at leading the audience in hand-claps and arm waves than singing. He vascillated between strained ("After Forever," "Iron Man") and strong ("Snowblind," "N.I.B.," "Children Of the Grave"), but the fans' abundant goodwill helped Sabbath's Prince of Darkness overcome any shortcomings as he made sure everyone had a (bleeping) good time.

Osbourne and company have bent over backwards to guarantee The End is really, well, the end, and give their ages and health there's little reason to doubt their sincerity. So if Wednesday's show was indeed the last we see of Sabbath here, the group bowed out on a memorable note.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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