Black Sabbath Delivers the Goods at Farewell Tour Stop in Los Angeles

Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath
Dima Korotayev/Kommersant via Getty Images

Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath performs onstage at Olimpiyskiy stadium on June 1, 2014 in Moscow, Russia. 

There are certain things you expect from a Black Sabbath show: pyro, lots of fists in the air and Ozzy Osbourne mumbling something you don't understand.

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At the Forum in Los Angeles Thursday (Feb. 11), they delivered all of this and more, in one of the first North American dates of the seminal metal band's "The End" tour. It’s ostensibly their final bow, but we've heard that before (the band returns to the Hollywood Bowl Sept. 19).

Fittingly, Sabbath opened with the eponymous first song from their also self-titled debut album, although it was something of a rough start. Osbourne struggled to find his notes, and for a few moments his phrasing seemed almost Dylan-esque. Thankfully, it became clear quickly that they just needed a bit of warming up.

By "After Forever," Osbourne was confidently strutting the length of the stage, imploring the audience to clap along, and mostly nailing his trademark strained vocals, essentially acting as the world's most unlikely cheerleader. As a monstrous, wide video screen played everything from images of maggots to archival footage of the band, Osbourne led the band through classics like "War Pigs" and "Children of the Grave," exuding bravado and, often, joy.

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The night didn't belong to Ozzy, though. While bassist Geezer Butler remains rock-solid and newish drummer Tommy Clufestos was a more-than-adequate fill-in for OG skinsman Bill Ward, the clear MVP of the night was guitarist Tony Iommi.

Iommi's effortless leads and power-chord riffs laid the groundwork for generations of hard-rocking axe-slingers, yet his attack still sounds fresh and resonant, and his vibrato-laden shreds are as precise as they were four decades ago. If this truly is the band's final bow, Iommi can go out a master and progenitor of both his genre and his instrument, one of the few legends who didn't succumb to any semblance of calling it in.


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