Black Sabbath has released a live DVD of their final ever show which took place in Birmingham’s 160,000 capacity Genting Arena on 4 February 2017. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for this event in my capacity as a volunteer with the Home of Metal project. We were there collecting portraits of the fans before the show and then got to sit in on the action – an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
As the DVD, and Sabbath’s iconic and haunting track ‘Black Sabbath’, begins all the memories of that night come flooding back. The DVD is expertly edited to recreate the excitement of the occasion. Just watching it gives me chills. Sabbath means a great deal to most fans of heavy music; myself included. Starting in 1968, they undoubtedly created the sound that would become known as heavy metal. The fact that the music of this group of working class blokes from Birmingham would lead to the creation of a genre (and countless subgenres) that is enjoyed by millions of fans all over the globe today makes this final hometown show beyond special.
The close-up shots of the crowd are some of the best bits of this DVD. They capture the collective emotions felt in that huge room; elation, veneration and ultimately sadness. People had travelled from as far as Columbia and Japan to attend the gig – it was that important to them that they be there. The diversity of the crowd was also staggering; families with small children at their first ever live show, old ladies with freshly set perms raising the metal horns to these metal idols. It was extraordinary.
What strikes me is how much Sabbath seems to be enjoying the night. They’re having an absolute blast – not a hint of sadness that this is the end. Iommi, in particular, always has a small smile on his face. They display a lot of gratitude to the crowd; with Ozzy thanking the crowd for the life he has had at one point. It is a shame that Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was not in attendance. I suspect that he wouldn’t have managed to match the stamina displayed by session drummer Tommy Clufetos. My personal favourite tracks, ‘Faeries Wear Boots’, ‘N.I.B’ and ‘War Pigs’, are present and completely delight me. I doubt any fan would feel dissatisfied by the set which spanned the entirety of the Ozzy-era Black Sabbath catalogue.
At the end of the DVD, after the encore, Ozzy, Iommi and Geezer have a final photo, wave and thank the audience… I remember never wanting them to leave the stage. They’ve certainly created a quality product with this DVD; with numerous interesting camera angles and slow motion used to enhance the show. It was an event that was well worth watching and preserving. I’ll be buying a copy.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Black Sabbath: The End was released on DVD on 17 November.