Black Sabbath: London – live review

Black Sabbath
O2 Arena London
December 10th 2013

It’s Black Sabbath at the O2 and Louder Than War sends Keith Goldhanger along to report.

Me … and a few thousand others …

At a big arena gig (the “Oz Arena” as we call it this evening).

Experiencing an evening of nostalgia … blimey.

It’s huge in here – here being inside that white circle that’s on the opening credits on Eastenders near the bendy bit of the River Thames.

Huge as in bigger than the Buffalo Bar in Islington and slightly smaller than Villa Park.

This is a band I listened to before stealing my older brothers’ 999 and Lurkers albums.

This is the band (well one of them) that had me waving my fists (both of them) in the air when I should have been holding onto the handlebars of my bike delivering newspapers, and this is the band I thought were a bit better than Showaddywaddy.

The bad bits tonight …? Well those bits when Ozzy insists on us all waving our arms in the air, talks to us in that broad American Accent and tries to get us clapping along to bits we really don’t feel the need to clap along with.

He asks us all to jump and as one you can feel the audience thinking, “you first …” as no one in the room jumps.

The bits where he pats his knees like my granddad used to when he was even younger than Ozzy is tonight look silly as well.

But Grandad couldn’t sing for toffee.

Ozzy can.


OK its a little bit out of time and out of tune but he’s got the frequency coming out of his mouth that cuts through the RAWKKK like a knife through tofu and makes us in no doubt at all that this is Sabbath.

Bloody Sabbath.

Bloody-muvver-fuck-in-BLACK fuck-in SABBATH !!!!! yeah !!

Between the hours of 21.40 and 21.55 m’lord I was witnessing a drum solo followed by that little pop ditty known to thousands of us as Iron Man.

And it rocked.

As did Dirty Women even though we could have probably done without the videos of those ladies showing us their breasts.

For five minutes it all went a bit 1971 but for the majority of the evening it was just us and them … us being thousands of pissed up air guitar playing hair receding fat blokes with big stomachs and untidy beards, the odd Thin Lizzy T-shirt and a few females watching the Sabbath. And them … deep breath … Black Fucking Sabbath!!!!…PHROOOOAAAAaaah…. Blimey!

And it was heavy.

Heavy as fuck.

Tight as fuck.

Heavy Metal as fuck.

Heavy Metal loud and lots of flashing lights and, and er … Yeah, it was alright.

And the first song was War Pigs.

It felt nostalgic as hell even though some of us are unfamiliar with the new stuff off their recent album 13 which blended in perfectly with the tunes we hadn’t really heard since adolescence.

Yes, it rocked.

And we all did that thing where you put your hands in the air raising only the index finger and pinky. They left Paranoid until the end. It gets added to that list of great songs we’ve seen live now, along with Hey Jude, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Thriller, Barbie Girl, I Just Called To Say I Love You, Satisfaction, and Chasing A Bee … (there’s more but it’s lists like this that cause arguments)

They couldn’t slip it in nonchalantly about four songs in could they ?

And it sounded exactly like we all know and for three minutes tonight LOVE.

And then we went home which meant queuing for ages to get in the tube while a busker at the top of the escalator played us the riff to Paranoid to show us all how easy it is and expect people to have some spare loose change still after shelling out all that money for tickets and beer.

Guitarist Tommy Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler were magnificent.

Drummer Tony Clufetos was instrumental in allowing Black Sabbath to get away with this. It’s debateable whether the missing Bill Ward could have cut the mustard like this and the aforementioned drum solo allowed some of us a trip back to the bar whilst the remaining nineteen thousand sat stood and stumbled through the motions trying not to look like members of Waynes World (“not”).

If anyone expected to come along tonight and see a 65 year old man do a few star jumps and high kicks then they’d have left disappointed. This is now all about not looking stupid and the band tonight did not look stupid. In recent months some of us have seen some rock bands from the 80’s 90’s and whatever year The Darkness entered our stereo’s and some of these really did come across as silly.

This is Sabbath.

Sabbath including the 65 year old Prince of Darkness.

Sixty five !! That’s the same age as Prince fuckin Charles !! (Lulu, Shakin Stevens Leo Sayer and er … Chris De Burgh)

They’re what we’ll all know one day as “the Old Sabbath” as opposed to the band we never would have dreamed (actually we would) being in the same room as whilst delivering the papers in the evening and skipping homework to listen to Snowblind which sounded tonight a terrifically grungy almost psychedelic throbbing anthem to us now with the old ears and dodgy teeth.

This was terrific but I’d left my air guitar at home which really sucked.

Next time maybe … next time.


Black Sabbath can be found at their website and on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

All words by Keith Goldhanger. More work by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here. He’s also on SoundCloud here, Facebook here and tweets as @HideousWheeelInv.

Photo of Black Sabbath © Richard Smith

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