Original BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi, singer Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler performed live together for the first time in seven years on Saturday night (May 19), playing an intimate show at the 3,800-person O2 Academy in SABBATH‘s hometown of Birmingham, England. The show, which served as a warm-up for the group’s headlining appearance next month at the Download festival, was laced with emotion and drama: it was the first live appearance for Iommi since being diagnosed with cancer, and it was the first with stand-in drummer Tommy Clufetos, making the split official between founding drummer Bill Ward and the rest of SABBATH.
Commented Iommi: “I was extremely nervous beforehand about playing a long set, not knowing whether I’d be able to last. It turned out to be no problem whatsoever because Ozzy, Geezer and Tommy were nailing everything; no chance to feel tired! I’m really pleased with how it turned out, fantastic crowd and I want to say thank you to all of them for giving me such an amazing reception. On our way again at last! Finally, a special thanks to Tommy; we invited him to play and he was brilliant.”
According to The Pulse Of Radio, Iommi was visibly moved when the audience began chanting his name after opening number “Into The Void”, and continued chanting it intermittently throughout the show.
Reviews of Saturday night’s concert can be found by following the links below.
Ward, meanwhile, announced again that he was declining to join his former bandmates for its scheduled 2012 dates, as well as the recording of a new album, due to a contractual dispute.
He also allegedly had his lawyers direct SABBATH to remove him from photos of the band posted at the official BLACK SABBATH web site “so as to not give the public the wrong impression about his involvement in the current BLACK SABBATH lineup,” according to a statement issued by the band’s publicist.
Geezer Butler issued a lengthy retort at his own web site, writing that Ward “hadn’t told any one of us he was having contractual problems, and frankly those things are worked out between our representatives, and never between the four of us let alone in public.”
Butler added that the band did not expect to make a lot of money from its Download appearance and planned to donate the proceeds from the Birmingham gig, saying, “Apparently, this wasn’t acceptable to Bill‘s representatives, they wanted an amount that was so unrealistic that it seemed to have been a joke.”
Until now, Iommi told The Pulse Of Radio a while back that the members of SABBATH stayed friendly even when there were legal or other issues going on. “We’ve always been talking. We’ve always been in touch with each other,” he said. “There might be a lawsuit in the thing between us, but we still talk to each other like nothing’s happened, you know.”
In addition to Download, the members of SABBATH will play at Lollapalooza this August in Chicago, their only scheduled U.S. gig. The rest of the scheduled SABBATH tour dates will be played by Ozzy and billed as “Ozzy Friends.”
Ozzy, Iommi and Butler are working on their first new album together in 33 years. Clufetos is a member of Ozzy‘s solo touring band.
Audio of entire concert:
Fan-filmed video footage: