Black Sabbath rocks Pepsi Center in farewell tour

Jake Tharan, Arapahoe Pinnacle Music Critic

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Among the ranks of legendary rock n’ roll artists are stalwarts that have gained a reputation for defining certain genres and styles. A reputation of this sort requires maintaining a ‘good name’ and Black Sabbath’s farewell performance at the Pepsi Center further cemented that reputation–almost fifty years in the making.

Fronted by the distinguished, wailing voice of Ozzy Osbourne and backed by the unparalleled riffing of Tony Iommi with the subtle yet effective bass of Geezer Butler; Black Sabbath took to the stage for what was to be their final performance. The monster set-list, billed as “The End,” was a desirable collection of classic songs from the English heavy metal originators. Judging from the fan response, the performance captured the essence of the music of Black Sabbath.

A massive curtain with the familiar ‘Black Sabbath’ logo projected upon it was hung before the stage just before the set began. With the familiar opening bell chime to the eponymous song ‘Black Sabbath,’ the curtain made its descent toward the ground to make way for Iommi, Butler and the Prince of Darkness. The arena exploded into raucous cheering at the crooning of Ozzy on the opening line; “What is this……that stands before me!?”

Several songs into the set revealed to the crowd that these veterans still possess the chops to execute their songs as precisely as they could in 1971. Choice cuts such as ‘Into the Void’ and ‘Snowblind’ exemplified the technical savvy of three musicians now pushing seventy yet still able to play as a cohesive band. They may not escape the inevitable grasp of Father Time, but they may still rock as hard as they ever have since age was not a looming force over them.

The first song on the set-list to entice an arena sing-along was the classic track ‘War Pigs,’ which was meticulously executed with signature down-tuned riffing and punctuated bass lines. It still remains as one of the most beloved Sabbath tracks. The jumping opening bass line from ‘NIB’ sent the heads of everyone in attendance bobbing in the motion of whiplash, much to the delight of the Ozzman. Ozzy’s cheeky demeanor and indecipherable ramblings provided vintage entertainment in between songs. He regularly commanded the crowd to shout louder saying; “Louder! I can’t f—king hear you!”

Toward the end of the set, touring drummer Tommy Clufetos pounded out a drum solo that eventually led into the opening bass drum of ‘Iron Man’ which was soon accompanied by the heavily distorted guitar. To not headbang along with a song as iconic as this–in a live setting no less–would be a true travesty. The band continued on to perform ‘Children of the Grave’ after what Ozzy explained would be the last song if the crowd failed to “go crazy!” Alas, the band encored with a finale, and once again iconic, song. ‘Paranoid,’ from the gargantuan 1970 record of the same name, was a laudable closer to the Denver stop on the final Black Sabbath tour.

Though the band members have repeatedly confirmed that this is indeed the end of Black Sabbath, this tour certainly suggests that the band could continue for more years to come. This performance, as well as every other date on the tour, was a tight, cohesive, strong and memorable manifesto of why the music of this band has been held dear for so many years. A performance this solid and true from an aging band credited with inventing heavy metal is remarkable. This is the end, but the longevity and timelessness of Black Sabbath lives on.

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