When I was little, around 5 or 6 years old, street traditional parties were held almost every weekend in my neighborhood back in my little hometown of Salina Cruz, down in one of the most southern parts of México.
One song that was played all the time was La Bruja, a traditional song about a crazy woman whom worshiped Satan and turned into a witch, sucking new born children’s blood until they died at night. Even though it scared the fuck out of me and the memory wouldn’t let me sleep sometimes because of the nightmares, I still loved it. The mixture of a joyful tune with dark lyrics, something which frightened me while making me dance at the same time, completely thrilled me. Who would’ve thought that a thrill like that would hit me again around my twelfth birthday, when I first heard two words in the shape of a song, a band, an album…? That triple thread is known as Black Sabbath.
Just like half of my life before then, there was this history about a dark being terrorizing earth – Satan involved and darkness all around – wrapped in a tune that made me do something opposite of what the lyrics made me feel. I was not dancing; I was in my earlier stages of a head banging extravaganza. Again, this writer had happily found the joy & fear combo that disturbed and rejoiced him within his childhood, discovering metal in the process. And, even though the original line-up of this band disbanded decades ago – and just got back together for a show a few years ago – luck was on my side: three out of the four original members of Black Sabbath were back together in 2013, with the aptly titled album ’13’, a world tour – and they brought one of the Big Four along with them, Megadeth.
I arrived at the venue alone, waiting to be mosh pitted and scared to death (via my ears) all by myself, but I had the luck to find a long lost friend walking around the throng of black-shirted people. Her name is Karla, a dancer left alone by her musician boyfriend, already wandering shirtless up to the front of the stage, waiting for the show to begin after apologizing to her loved one. Happier and accompanied, the lights went off as we approached next to the speakers waiting for the full blast and Mustaine and company kicked a cold Saturday night off with an animated factory assembling the Megadeth logo and Prince of Darkness playing in the back, only to make thousands of people scream as the band got on stage to pour Hangar 18 into the Foro Sol.
Megadeth’s “Public Enemy No. 1”
The mayhem went on with Wake Up Dead, In My Darkest Hour and Kingmaker: fast dark songs that slowly turned frowned faces because of the cold night into examples of pure head banging joy. Things only got better when Tornado of Souls and Chris Broderick’s solos were played halfway through their set with clips from movies like Wayne’s World 2 in between. But the biggest riot was ignited after an excerpt from Talk Radio came on screen and everyone began to jump to the now classic bass line from Peace Sells, a white glove response from metal fans to the rest of the world. Beer cups were left aside as micro mosh pits began to pour here and there: kids, fathers, women and grown-ups alike, to Megadeth’s first swan song.
The band left and came back for an encore, with Mustaine wrapped in a Mexican flag and greeting the witnesses of the final length of their tour through Latin America before firing their last song, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due. A bow and many greetings later, they walked off one last time to the beat of Silent Scorn and Sid Vicious’ interpretation of My Way. My friend had to get back to her loved one while people were rushing in from the traffic into the stadium, but concerts never leave one alone for long. Just a few steps ahead I stumbled upon two of my best friends from my college days’ rock band; Carlos and Víctor, along with a sweet looking girl named Adria – who obviously wasn’t aware of what she was doing there, but was having the time of her life anyway.
Not long after finding a sweet spot between the pit and some giant speakers, the lights went off as three legends came on-stage with a loud Olé Olé Olé chant from the Prince of Darkness himself, followed by sirens and the first slow pace notes from War Pigs. While most of the audience followed Osbourne’s orders step by step, some others played air bass along to Geezer Butler‘s pace, others paid close attention to Tony Iommi’s fingers at each bending, some other head banged along Bill Ward’s replacement, Tommy Clufetos, and tried to find something bad to say about him: a task which proved impossible. And just like that, everyone was taken back to the early days of horror music and the birth of metal as we know it: Into The Void, Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes, Snowblind and Age of Reason kept the trip going, but everyone flipped and took out their inner child – this writer specially – when Black Sabbath came number 6th in the playlist: after the first note, thousands went quiet.
Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”
I was transported by the sounds in only a way music can do; I felt as if I was back in my room at night, in my hometown, hearing a scary song about a witch, just twelve year old and listening to Black Sabbath for the first time, being lullabied by a song about a dark being (along with 50,000 others at the show). Almost five minutes into the trance, the upbeat ending came through and a few head bangs took care of the thick memories that were swirling in my head. In the middle of the show, the lovely lady of our concert-crew had to use the facilities – and she understandably wasn’t eager to do it alone and make her way through the thick maze of leathered fans and back again – so Carlos (a huge Black Sabbath fan who hadn’t seen them live before) kindly offered to be an escort: that’s true love right there! Luckily, they missed just Behind the Wall of Sleep, and got back in time for one of the highlights of the night. The odds of that happening were low, so it seemed the concert-gods were on our side.
Geezer Butler had the Foro Sol’s entire attention, a silent attention, when his feet began to move accompanied by his fingers to give birth to the whammified notes of N.I.B., a metal and bassists standard. Needless to say, we all roared along to each Oh yeah! in the song. Tommy had his own share of the spotlight after Rat Salad, with an impossible sounding drum solo that washed away any doubts of him being able to fit into Ward’s boots, and in complete sincerity, what I saw and what I heard was awe-striking.
Explosion number two happened as Iron Man began, with drunk and soared lungs singing along with its signature riffs, fists in the air with each drum beat, and spectators closed their eyes wandering back into the seventies and witnessing the revenge of an iron hero in their minds, later jumping to Geezer’s final bass lines as Iommi’s licks marked what to feel and when to feel it. Black Sabbath’s second coming to the world came next with God Is Dead?, the first jewel from their album ‘13′ and coming in 13th on the set, followed by Dirty Women and Children of the Grave before going off stage for a quick ritual of the fans gathered in their masses, a roaring ritual asking for a little bit more.
All prayers were answered with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath‘s instrumental intro only to kick everyone in the head with a quick switch to Paranoid. Giving forth everything the audience had abandoned during Megadeth; the people-traffic, low temperatures and sobriety; as beer cups were thrown into the air along with plenty of peoples’ shirts – which left shirtless torsos everywhere, crashing into each other as the rest of us were having enough fun jumping up and down along with Ozzy, obeying his commands and saying good bye to the real kings of metal and their horrifically terrifying, yet beautiful music, under the promise of another visit to the city sooner rather than later.
To witness the pioneers of a genre that has had its highs and lows here, touring, after so many decades, Black Sabbath is a must see to any fan of any genre of music, provided you are truly passionate about music. If an artist, a band, a guitar lick and a scary story (or any hybrid of these factors) can horrify you and tattoo a smile on your face as your feet lose control, it is worth respect – and one’s attendance.
People might think I’m insane, but if you don’t give yourself the chance to see or hear things that make true happiness, I’d tell you to get a Sabbath record and enjoy life, but it might be too late.
Thanks to Karla for the good looking company and to Víctor, Carlos and Adria. Thanks to those first two bastards for protecting me from other people’s fluids with their tallness and to Adria for embarking on this adventure with a smile and an open mind. You’ve passed the test: now you can come to any concert with us, mija.
Written by Jorge A. López Mendicuti
OurVinyl | Senior Writer