Thousands of elderly heavy metal fans shed tears of nostalgic joy as Black Sabbath returned for a hometown reunion gig in Birmingham. Their first hometown show in 13 years was a roaring success.
Ozzy Osbourne’s veterans played material from throughout their five decades in the business. Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi were joined by a stand-in drummer Tommy Clufetos as original band member Bill Ward’s contractual demands had been deemed unreasonable.
The crowd was determined to show their support for guitarist Iommi, who is battling cancer. They chanted his name, prompting Osbourne to hug Iommi and thank them for their concern. Sabbath played all the classics and closed the set with Paranoid, to rapturous acclaim.
Geezer Butler issued an immediate reaction on his website: "Thank you, thank you, thank you Birmingham. Best fans ever - you brought out the best in us. It was a privilege playing for you tonight. Tony was a hero - you were the best medicine he has had. Proud to be a Brummie."
The celebratory atmosphere of the show made Ward’s absence the only sour note. Butler had previously criticised the drummer for going public with his demands. "They wanted an amount that was so unrealistic that it seemed to have been a joke," Butler said. "We resigned ourselves to going ahead without Bill. For whatever reason, it wasn't meant to be this time. Bill's made his decision, and I have to respect that. Hopefully this painful year will be worth the wait for the new Sabbath album and end in joy and happiness for us all."