It’s a genre that gets a bad name, but if there’s a band worthy of exemption, it’s Black Sabbath. There was no such thing as heavy metal when they started – but mixing the hard rock of Led Zeppelin and Cream with a gloomy working class outlook and lyricist Geezer Butler’s fascination with HG Wells, they more or less invented it. The band’s first four albums, released in a magnificent run between 1970 and 1972, both defined the genre and stand apart from it as classics of any collection.
Things got a bit silly later on, after Ozzy Osbourne was fired in 1978. Which is why last year’s 13, the first album uniting Butler, Osbourne and guitar master Tony Iommi in 35 yaers, was a bigger deal. An even bigger deal was that it was actually a thoroughly decent record, proving their studio prowess undiminished.
The band’s Middle Eastern debut proved their live chops equally potent. Kicking off with ‘War Pigs’ – a 1970 classic made relevant thanks to clips of Bush and Nixon – Sabbath served up an incredible two-hour set, which lent heavily on the band’s heyday, alongside choice cuts from the new LP. Backed by virtuoso session drummer Tommy Clufetos, the reformed trio edged the set towards a single encore of hit ‘Paranoid’, the 8,500-strong crowd, many dressed in black, brought to a simmering moment of catharsis. With talk another new album could be in the works [www.timeoutdubai.com/knowledge/news/52306], we can only hope Ozzy’s onstage pledge of a return visit comes good.