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Black Sabbath blend old and new at the Erwin Center

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Peter Mongillo

Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 28, 2013

Silhouettes behind curtains, air-raid sirens and a familiar, slightly slurred voice set off the packed Erwin Center Saturday night. Then, suddenly, there was Ozzy, beckoning the crowd to scream. Guitarist Tony Iommi smiled out at the audience before launching into “War Pigs,” one of Black Sabbath’s most recognizable and enduring songs.

The group’s North American tour, which started Thursday in Houston, comes in support of a new, Rick Rubin-produced album, “13.” That album finds Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Iommi getting back to the stripped-down sound of their early albums. Founding drummer Bill Ward did not join them on the recording or the tour due to what has been described a contract dispute; Osbourne drummer Tommy Clufetos is taking his place on the tour.

The 20-date North American tour comes with plenty of questions. Can Ozzy, known more in recent years for his appearance on reality television, hold it together? Another concern for the group is Iommi, who has waged a public battle with cancer (part of the work for his album was done in his home studio in between treatments).

Ozzy wasn’t perfect, and there were some moments that were off (and a few that were way off), but he was present enough that the set, a mix of the band’s early material and new tracks, still offered a good dose of the group’s gloomy excitement. Most of the room seemed to agree, shouting along with Ozzy as he extended his arms, vampire style, on “Black Sabbath.”

As for Iommi, he attacked each song, teaming with Butler and Clufetos to summons the group’s thumping, bluesy rage on “Into the Void“ and “Snowblind.” New songs including “Age of Reason,” “Methademic” and “God is Dead?” fit into the set just fine as the band offered up the same heavy riffs and tempo changes that mark their early material. Clufetos fit in as well, breaking the set in half with an extended drum solo that led into a final strech of “Iron Man,” “God is Dead?,” “Dirty Women” and “Children of the Grave.”

After drenching himself with a bucket on stage, Ozzy returned for “Paranoid,” with the front man mustering up one more demand — “I want to see you go (expletive) nuts!” — a bit faded, but still going after two hours.


War Pigs

Into the Void

Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes


Age of Reason

Black Sabbath

Behind the Wall of Sleep


End of the Beginning

Fairies Wear Boots


Rat Salad

Drum solo

Iron Man

God is Dead?

Dirty Women

Children of the Grave