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Concert review: Black Sabbath bids a heavy metal farewell

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Ross Halfin

Three and a half stars

Black Sabbath February 13, Mandalay Bay Events Center.

As farewell tours go, Black Sabbath’s current The End tour is a bit dubious: It’s so lengthy and open-ended that Saturday’s performance at the Mandalay Bay Events Center was just the first of two Vegas dates scheduled—and the next isn’t until September. And the idea of the legendary heavy metal band saying goodbye is tainted by a lineup that only includes three of the four original members, since drummer Bill Ward has been at odds with his former bandmates for years now.

Black Sabbath at Mandalay Bay Events Center

Still, remaining original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler sounded strong, running through 100 minutes of Sabbath classics, mainly from the band’s first four albums (there were no songs from 2013’s well-received reunion album 13). Osbourne’s vocals have been highly inconsistent for many years, but he was in fine form as a singer, complementing Iommi’s intricate guitar work and Butler’s thick bass lines on highlights like “Into the Void” and “N.I.B.” Only drummer Tommy Clufetos, a member of Osbourne’s solo band, sounded out of place, pounding the drums like he was in a thrash band. His extended drum solo on instrumental “Rat Salad” (preceded by vintage video clips of the band, Ward included) was easily the concert’s low point.

Osbourne’s irritating stage presence remains caught somewhere between a toddler and a sports-stadium announcer, and his endless calls of “Let me see your hands!” and “I can’t hear you!” lost all meaning pretty quickly. When he focused on the music, though, Black Sabbath proved that there’s enough life left in this band for however long they want their farewell to last. –Josh Bell

Setlist:

“Black Sabbath”

“Fairies Wear Boots”

“After Forever”

“Into the Void”

“Snowblind”

“War Pigs”

“Behind the Wall of Sleep”

“N.I.B.”

“Hand of Doom”

“Rat Salad” with drum solo

“Iron Man”

“Dirty Women”

“Children of the Grave”

Encore:

“Paranoid”

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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