First Night: Ozzy's irony-free trip down thrash metal's memory lane

Black Sabbath London Astoria London

DESPITE OZZY Osbourne's oft-quoted remark that "the nearest we ever got to black magic was a box of chocolates", there can be little doubt that Black Sabbath, Brummie inventors of Heavy Metal, had somehow tapped into some kind of primeval source.

Thirty years after they formed their ugly, irresistible, lumbering riffs are still influencing rock music like no one else save the Beatles. After all, what were Nirvana but the perfect blend of the Fab Four's sunny melodism and Sabbath's grinding pessimism. Having reformed for a lucrative American trek, this show promised to be the capital's last chance to view the original classic line-up.

The last few years have been kinder to Osbourne than his erstwhile band mates, despite the indignities visited upon him by a Channel 5 special about his home life, where his well-spoken children chided him for using bad language. Sacked after his recreational habits became a liability, the supposedly washed-up singer went on to huge solo success in the US. Although this reunion may whiff of financial expediency for all save the front man, it's a unique opportunity to see a living, breathing Seventies hard rock act in the flesh.

Opening with "War pigs", the entire hall is chanting along as Ozzy, healthier these days, leads them. To his left, Iommi, sporting the louche look of an art teacher given to holding "private tutorials", alternately torments and caresses his guitar - never producing less than a huge noise. Geezer Butler beats his bass, head nodding throughout and drummer Bill Ward, introduced by Ozzy as "nearly dead", pummels the kit as if he is trying to banish all thoughts of retirement. Because it's hard to imagine them, especially Ozzy with his endearing habit of clapping out of time, doing anything else.

The set consists entirely of material at least 20 years old, yet who can deny the thundering charm of the cautionary "Fairies Wear Boots", that tribute to "Sweet Leaf" (not about PG Tips) and the clumsy epic "Snowblind".

But the choice of tracks is hardly relevant. The songs are ridiculous, the band knows it and the audience, brightly lit throughout, know it too. But the performance and the reaction are sincere. Irony has never sat well with Heavy Metal. But entertainment values do.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor