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Black Sabbath, Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA- 8/12

Black Sabbath’s reunions back in the mid-1990s were patchy affairs; plagued by infighting, lawsuits, management hassles, you name it. But now with some of the band members facing serious health issues (Guitarist Tony Iommi fighting cancer, absent drummer Bill Ward has heart problems and singer, reality TV star, Ozzy Osbourne routinely battling himself), this time around there’s a newly found urgency to put things right. It helps that they’re touring a new album, 13; the first since 1978 to include most of the original lineup. And the three new songs in their set stalk the same heights as their best early ‘70s work.

Blitz-era air raid sirens led to the opening chords of “War Pigs” and not for the last time Ozzy screamed “Lemme fuckin’ hear ya!” (heaven knows you don’t have any trouble hearing him), then threw up his arms in that Vol. 4 pose. Geezer Butler’s throbbing bass lines meshed perfectly with the guitar on “Snowblind,” still as clear-eyed an assessment of cocaine abuse as you’ll ever get.

Later, the pealing bell heralded the coming apocalypse by way of “Black Sabbath” from their first LP. In a recent interview Ozzy refers to Tony Iommi as the boss and of that there is no doubt; his guitar possesses a full-throttled tone that raises goose bumps a second before stripping them from your skin.

A bit further in Ozzy warned us that “Fairies Wear Boots,” his voice scraping the rafters while the band roiled behind him. Throughout the show he was more than engaged, clapping and doing that galloping dance move of his. New drummer Tommy Clufetos, a veteran of Rob Zombie’s band, was impeccable all evening; his blast through “Rat Salad” came with a brief but spirited drum solo, ideal for those who can’t stand them.

Witnessing Sabbath live you can’t help but flail along to an embarrassment of riffs, as on “Iron Man”- bearing the mother of all intro chords.

New song, “God Is Dead?” has a cataclysmic motif, but with a sense of humor:
The blood runs free, the rain turns red
Give me the wine, you keep the bread.

“Dirty Women”, from 76’s Technical Ecstasy was one of the few selections that strayed from Sabbath’s early golden era; the songs were either forty years old or brand new.

The Comcast Center is an outdoor venue, Sabbath was forced to vacate prior to 11:00 PM, but not before “Paranoid” when the best kind of reality show ended on a troubled note.

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