With Rival Sons
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016
After nearly 50 years, Black Sabbath took the stage for the final time in Dallas on Wednesday night. Since their inception, the English quartet has had a mythic quality to it, as though there's a plausible deniability of the band's mortality. And as Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Tommy Clufetos began the tour through their final Dallas show at Gexa Energy Pavilion, the finality of it all never quite felt tangible.
Notably absent was founding member and drummer Bill Ward, a fact Clufetos would sooner have you forget. Even the most ardent of fans knew that this was as good as they were ever going to have it.
Sabbath wasted no time in their final attempt to melt the faces of their eager and willing audience. They burned and raged through their setlist like a well-oiled machine. Leading off this final act of revelry was the titular “Black Sabbath.” The crowd responded with the loyal fervor of an army commanded by four seasoned generals on the eve of a great battle.
But that was really just as the appetizer. Sirens blared among the crowd, and throngs of grown men turned to each other with looks on their faces that could only be likened to the expression of a child who had just emerged from their room on Christmas morning. The early refrains of “War Pigs” hung heavy in the air, as iconic a takedown of war hawks as any.
Regardless of their politics, every member of the audience, young and old, came prepared to scream every line back at an eerily giddy Osbourne. It was almost as if he was finally realizing the scope and significance of the song for the first time, with the resounding chorus of voices in the audience echoing his every word back to him. As the song drew to a close, Osbourne smiled the smile of a man who was only just beginning.
At this poin, they were less than half way through what would be a sprawling 19 song set. After a rendition of “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” Geezer Butler launched into “Bassically,” a psychedelic bass solo that sought to prove his nickname — which he's had since he was a young man — was still mere irony. Butler coaxed tones out of his bass that could have easily been mistaken for its six-string brethren, as his finger deftly made their way across the frets.
It was not long before Clufetos would have his chance to flex his admittedly-much-younger muscles as well. He proceeded to generate a wall of sound so powerful that parts of Oklahoma must have worried they had been struck by yet another earthquake. Clufetos weaved his way in and out of obscure time signatures for a solid 10 minutes, if nothing else than to afford a brief respite to his much older band mates.
Clufetos' solo was the setup for another key part of the show, as it segued directly into "Iron Man." It was here that Iommi had his chance to assert himself as one of the most dynamic guitarists in metal, allowing his technical prowess to speak for itself, with no need for dramatic flair or erratic movements. Then, only a few more songs between them and the end of an era, Sabbath closed off the set with “God is Dead” and “Children of the Grave,” but the crowd cried out, begging for one last passage in a tome that was about to be closed.
They were met with a wry look in Osbourne's eyes as he returned to stage for the encore, and the rapid firing of the opening for “Paranoid.” It was a fitting end to a grand performance, and as the lights dimmed a solemnity washed over the crowd. Even after 50 years, Sabbath stayed huge to the end — and in their own way, that's why they will never truly die.