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By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 @ 3:45 PM

Sunday Runny Sunday: Heavy Metal Legends BLACK SABBATH Bring The Thunder And Give It 113% Live At The Canadian Tire Centre Along With REIGNWOLF In Ottawa, Canada, April 13, 2014

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'Twas the day before Sunday when Ottawa Senators fans gathered in their masses as the Red Army spanked the Leafs' asses. Neither of us made the playoffs though Ottawa finished up two points ahead of Toronto - to which I say thank Christ as our season was just as lousy and I had a ticket to a show for the next day which I didn't want to see go to waste. A show, I might add, by a legendary heavy metal band whose history spans back to when the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup. Both you and I know the band well but prior to them setting the fifty-mission cap that night it was the turn of the student to do a little bit of show and tell in front of the master along with about 12,000+ people in attendance.

The lucky opening band who were personally and mutually selected by the headliners were none other than experimental blues-rock trio REIGNWOLF whom I had actually seen live before but mostly when they were really just one performer: Saskatoon-based blues guitarist Jordan Cook. Back when I saw him in 2012 when Ottawa hosted the Juno Awards which coincided with the awards show introducing a Best Heavy Metal category that year and O-town eager to shake off its "city that fun forgot" tag the ambitious guitarist landed on a bill opening for ANVIL armed with only his guitar and parts of a drum set which included a bass pedal. That day bore witness to the first combined guitar/drum solo ever attempted live in the history of modern music. You were torn between either launching into air guitar or taking that much-needed bathroom break. But having tested out his then-unrecorded music to the public, Jordan Cook realized he was on to something with his new project and stuck with it, eventually releasing an album under his new stage moniker later that same year produced by PEARL JAM/DAVID BOWIE producer Matt Chamberlin. He also assembled a touring band which comprised of a bass player named Stitch and drummer Joseph Braley from Seattle band THE MOTHER'S ANGER and the buzz as well as close to two years of gigging in Europe and North America eventually landed REIGNWOLF this full-profile tour.

The show itself was about the same as the small-scale show I had seen him at some 2 years prior: Rambunctious, hi-energy and pretty damn heavy but even moreso now that he had his own rhythm section. His best-known songs such as "In The Dark" and "Are You Satisfied?" were definitely the crowd pleasers of the night but for me it was his song "Electric Love" which, despite the misleading title as it was mostly percussion-driven, was the five-star performance of his entire set. And yes, he played both a guitar and drum solo at the same time during the song. It may look bizarre seeing it on stage but after a couple of listens you won't even realize that the synchronicity between the drumming and the guitar playing was only made possible by a guy sitting behind a drum kit with a guitar using half of his body to handle the drumming and the other half to handle the guitar playing (mostly fret-tapping). He makes it look easy but it really is not. And that's his appeal. No wonder Seattle wants him after a 20-year void left by Kurt Cobain. Their city council will probably end up adding a new clause in that online petition calling for Justin Bieber's deportation where Canada gets the Biebs back in exchange for Jordan Cook. Fortunately for us, the 'WOLF prefers to make the Saskatchewan wild his natural habitat whenever he's not on the prowl across the globe.


When I think about it now, this also wasn't the first time I've seen the legendary BLACK SABBATH headline here in Ottawa if my 2007 review of their show with the late great Ronnie James Dio fronting the band under the name of HEAVEN & HELL is anything to go by (http://www.knac.com/article.asp?ArticleID=5652). In similar hindsight, I was probably a bit rough on the classic lineup of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward while championing Dio's return to the band. At the time, he was bringing back some much-needed momentum to the SABBATH legacy when the band released the-then comeback song "The Devil Cried" while public legal wrangling over the rights to the band name between Tony Iommi (who owned the band name) and Sharon Osbourne (who claimed both her and Ozzy did) were actually threatening to harm the legacy more than anything. And frustratingly still there were loyal 70's-era SABBATH fans continuing to go out of their way to convince others that the band ceased to exist after 1979, ignoring the Dio era entirely despite the willingness of the band members to move forward with Dio at the helm because he was simply a lot more efficient and fast compared to Ozzy when it came to songwriting. And 2009's only cemented that fact for me.

But things changed dramatically since that review.

The biggest change would be health-related when both Dio and Iommi were both diagnosed with cancer within 3 years of each other. While Iommi eventually overcame the disease during recordings for the 13 album late last year, his colleague Dio was not as fortunate, becoming its latest victim in 2010 at age 67. His passing shook the metal community down to the core and no one was perhaps more affected by it than Ozzy who likely saw it as a sign to finally end the 35-year absence by reuniting with his former bandmates. Then Bill Ward opted out citing various reasons which all would be related to his health which later saw Ozzy/Rob Zombie drummer Tommy Clufetos sub for him on both the new album and the tour.

Including this show. Which I think I'll just get to now.

Opening their set with "War Pigs" as the sounds of pre-recorded doomsday sirens and falling A-bombs punctuated the atmosphere of the CTC, Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Tommy launched into a 2-hour repertoire of the entire SABBATH catalogue as well as their latest material from 13. Iommi, Butler and Clufetos may have only started playing for the past year or so but their chemistry was so solid and consistent it was as if Bill Ward really was back behind that drum riser during much of the classics. And Ozzy is not only mesmerizing to watch onstage because he performs as if it's his last day on Earth but also because he performs with a mission in mind, which is to put on a show for the paying audience to remember. Sure, there was the odd glitch such as the vocals on "Into The Void" sounding an octave lower than they should've been and the addressing of the Ottawa crowd as Toronto but all asides Ozzy was nothing short of entertaining. And he liked saying "cuckoo!" a lot for some reason. So who's still saying that they were a satanic band again?

And it wasn't just the performance itself which made SABBATH's show so endearing but also the choice of songs played. Sure, the obligatory songs such as "Iron Man" and "Paranoid" had to be played because it just would not feel right ending the show without them but to make things interesting the band included songs from deep within the proverbial vault that rarely had been played live. They included the blues-influenced "Dirty Women", the laid-back groove jam "Under The Sun" and the heavy bass-driven wizardry of "Behind The Wall Of Sleep". The Sabs' new material from last year's critically acclaimed album 13 proved they were still the masters of their own domain as songs such as "Age Of Reason", "End Of The Beginning" and "God Is Dead?" evoked images of the balance of good versus evil both in lyrical as well as in visual form from a giant screen in the background.

But amidst the tales of apocalyptic chaos which inspired the dark undertones of BLACK SABBATH's work there would always be a cause for celebration and hope. The closing number "Paranoid" may have been a song written about desperation and despair but it ended with black and purple balloons and confetti showering the crowd. And as previously mentioned Ozzy is a performer with the crowd's interests at heart and he'll cater to all. If that means riling up the crowd to "go fucking CRAAAZYYY!" or get them to sway their hands back and forth he'll do it. And he did. Successfully, I might add. Nothing like a concert by a legendary band which started out to compete against the late 60's hippy culture to host their very own yoga class with over 12,000 people and guarantee a real workout. Now that's something for a few friends to ponder as they train for the Army Run. So, yes, Barb, Marlene and Lisa among others: If Ozzy Osbourne at 65 years of age and possibly even older than your parents can stay on his feet and rock out for over 2 hours you can easily ace a half marathon in that same amount of time.

That night, BLACK SABBATH scored with the Ottawa crowd despite being one man down. Hopefully their return to our fair city takes less than 48 years in the making.



  • "War Pigs"
  • "Into The Void"
  • "Under The Sun"/"Every Day Comes And Goes"
  • "Snowblind"
  • "Age Of Reason"
  • "Black Sabbath"
  • "Behind The Wall Of Sleep"
  • "Bassically"
  • Geezer Butler bass solo
  • "N.I.B."
  • "End Of The Beginning"
  • "Fairies Wear Boots"
  • "Rat Salad"
  • Intro to "Supernaut"
  • "Loner"
  • Tommy Clufetos drum solo
  • "Iron Man"
  • "God Is Dead?"
  • "Dirty Women"
  • "Children Of The Grave"
  • "Paranoid"

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