There’s never a better feeling than waking up in the morning with your ears ringing after a great, great concert. I could do without the headache from mixing beer and bourbon but we take the bad with the good in life. I saw Black Sabbath last night at Kansas City’s Sprint Center (pictured above by yours truly) and I can only describe it this way: Black Sabbath rained fire on Kansas City last night. The show took me back to high school… when a concert like this rolled through town it’s all anybody was talking about.
About a month ago, my good pal SB (name concealed to hide the guilty) asked me if I wanted to see Sabbath. The Rock Chick gave me a flat out “no” which I must admit surprised me. I even felt myself vacillate a little bit. When it came to Sabbath I was more of a Dio-era fan than Ozzy-led Sabbath fan, which I know is blasphemy. Sure, I own ‘Paranoid’ on vinyl but that’s only a sliver of their vast output. Luckily, about two years ago, I started purchasing their catalog, album by album. I was inspired by their late career gem, ’13’ which was produced by the intrepid Rick Rubin. That guy can coax the best out of any band/artist he’s working with. Don’t believe me? Just listen to what he did with Mick Jagger on ‘Wandering Spirit’. But when SB asked me if I wanted to check this band out, I had to ask, “Are you sure?” Sabbath isn’t a band that had “hits” in the conventional sense. They were hard core metal. Who could we get to go with us? SB smiled, “don’t worry, I have some friends in Salina who would love to go.”
Around 6 last night SB and I jumped in the Uber (don’t drink and drive kids) and headed down to Kansas City’s famous Drum Room to meet the Salina 4. These guys had driven in that morning from Salina, and from the appearance of things had been drinking since they’d arrived. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but these guys were some of the greatest students of rock and roll I’ve come across. These were some heavy weight rock dudes and I was wondering if I was going to be able to keep up. Within minutes we were discussing the lineup changes in the Scorpions. One of these guys had the temerity to ask me if I liked Thin Lizzy. Who doesn’t like Thin Lizzy? When the subject of my blog came up and the word bourbon was uttered, the next thing I knew I had a tumbler of Four Roses in my hand. If Sabbath wasn’t going to burn KC down the Apocalyptic Four Horsemen of Salina were. I couldn’t help but think, “buckle your seatbelts boys, these cats ain’t takin’ prisoners.”
The warm-up band was a new outfit, Rival Sons, out of California. One of the Four Horsemen assured me that they were “Zeppelin-esque”. He wasn’t lying. Great vocals, very Robert Plant-ish, coupled with some great bluesy rock guitar. I don’t know much about them but I will be perusing their catalog soon. I was surprised but they kept everybody in their seats, something that rarely happens with an opening band.
Finally the lights came down and the power and majesty of Black Sabbath was revealed. They opened with their eponymous song, “Black Sabbath”. Someone, somewhere needs to erect a statue for Tony Iommi. The guy is simply one of the greatest guitarists I’ve ever seen live. The solo he played on “War Pigs” would melt the face off even the most ardent rock fan. All night long he filled the hall with loud, thick slabs of metal riffs. I left the show a true believer in Tony Iommi.
The unheralded hero of the night for me was Geezer Butler. I knew he was a good bass player but he shredded last night. His bass guitar was the driving instrument in a number of songs. He plays fucking heavy, heavy bass. His bass solo, before the awesome “N.I.B.” entitled creatively, “Bassically”, was awesome, truly one of the highlights of the show.
I don’t know who the drummer was but he filled in admirably for the MIA Bill Ward. I hate when bands reunite and leave a member or two out (talking to you Eddie Van Halen) but this kid was a great drummer. Ozzy was his usual maniac self, despite putting on a few extra lbs. The way Ozzy lumbers around clapping always calls to mind the actors from “Planet of the Apes”… there something very chimpanzee about his movements. But the Ozzman was in good voice and he did a nice job inciting the crowd with his usual, “Go, fucking, crazy”.
The setlist was pretty amazing as well. It’s as if the band said, fuck the fan expectations, we’re going to play what we want to play. Sure they did “Paranoid”, “War Pigs”, and “Iron Man”, but with a band like Sabbath, after those three well known songs they are literally free to play anything they want. They dug deep into the catalog for “Dirty Women” from ‘Technical Ecstasy’ and it was a true high point in the show, despite having lyrics that could have been written by my pal Matthew when he was 13…but I digress. They played a lot of stuff from their heavily Cream-influenced first album. I was thrilled they played “Into The Void” and “After Forever” from ‘Masters of Reality’ but I was hoping for “Sweet Leaf”… and I think most of the crowd was hoping for that one too, based on the smell of the arena. My only disappointment was the absence of any of the newer material from ’13’, which I’d have loved to hear live… “End of the Beginning” or “God Is Dead?” would have been a great add to the setlist.
After a fantastic version of “Paranoid” SB and I wandered out of the arena, drained. We’d lost the Salina Four Horsemen somewhere in the crazed exodus. Unfortunately SB left his bag of concert t-shirts under his seat, it was just that kinda night. The Sabs giveth, the Sabs taketh away. We were worried about the Salina 4, when I turned to SB and said, “Dude, I know where they are, they’re in the bar at the Drum Room…” And, naturally that’s where we found them with a table full of bourbon. The next thing I knew, I was drinking an Old Fashion. Things were just starting to get out of hand when I realized it was past midnight… as my dad used to say, “Son, nothing good happens after midnight…” Heeding those words, SB and I jumped into another Uber and escaped into the night. I can only surmise what damage the Salina 4 did last night… But I know one thing, and it may sound crazy…. I wanna party with those cowboys again…