In this Black Sabbath End Tour Blu Ray review, I tell you everything you want to know about the concert. Is this really “the end” for Black Sabbath? No way, at least let’s hope not! This is the band that virtually gave birth to heavy metal. Nobody sounds like Sabbath! Many bands do “farewell” tours and then make a musical comeback.
This article gives you my take on the concert’s musical performance highlights and important technical blu ray specifications, including audio and video quality. If you like Black Sabbath, then check out what I have to say about their final show.
An “Evil Disclaimer”
First, let me say for those of you who are not familiar with this band that Black Sabbath is not and never was connected with Satanism or anything evil.
They took their name from the 1963 horror film “Black Sabbath” starring Borris Karloff and distinguished themselves from other rock bands of the time by writing horror-inspired lyrics and playing music to match them.
Black Sabbath is generally recognized as the very first band to “tune down” to create to put the “heavy” in heavy metal. This practice went along perfectly with the morbid nature of their lyrics.
A Few Facts About The Black Sabbath End Tour
This Blu Ray was released on November 17, 2017, and was made from a live concert recorded on February 4th of the same year at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, England. It is popularly known as the “Black Sabbath End Tour” but formally titled “Black Sabbath – The End.” The running time is 136 minutes, which includes the concert and a special feature. The special feature is essentially a video that shows studio takes of 5 songs.
The concert video was directed by Dick Carruthers and produced by Jerremy Azis. The concert footage is 1 hour and 48 minutes long. Included as a specific feature are the Angelic Sessions, which adds another 26 minutes to the Blu Ray.
The blu ray is done in all plastic packaging. It contains one blu ray disk and a booklet. It plays in region A (regions B & C are untested).
The Black Sabbath End Tour Backstory
This concert tour was billed as the last time Black Sabbath would ever get together to record or play music live. It was a world tour that began in Omaha, Nebraska, on January 20, 2016, and ended in their hometown, Birmingham, England, on February 4, 2017. The last Birmingham show was streamed live on the band’s Facebook page.
The tour reunited Ozzy Osbourne as the singer and included the original guitarist Tony Iommi, bass player Geezer Butler, and Adam Wakeman (always behind the scenes) on keyboards and rhythm guitar. If you’re not a serious Black Sabbath fan, then you probably never heard of Adam. Bill Ward, the band’s original drummer, did not return for the tour and was replaced by Tommy Clufetos, who also played percussion.
Tony Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) in 2012, and serious intermittent health issues were most likely the main reason the band decided not to go on. Tony did say at the time that he would be open to recording a new album and possible “one-off” concert dates.
Blu Ray Packaging For The Black Sabbath End Tour
The Black Sabbath The End concert is available as a single disk Blu Ray that comes in an all-plastic case, complete with a booklet. It was also made available as a combination Blu Ray and CD DigiPack. Eagle Vision markets it.
The booklet has some photos of the band members along with their thoughts on the history and career of Black Sabbath. There is also the usual business production and management crap. The tracklist for the final concert is on the back cover of the Blu Ray case.
Tracklist For The Final Show
The Song List For The Birmingham Show February 4,2017
01. Black Sabbath
02. Fairies Wear Boots
03. Under the Sun / Every Day Comes And Goes
04. After Forever
05. Into the Void
07. Band Intros
08. War Pigs
09. Behind the Wall of Sleep
10. Bassically / N.I.B.
11. Hand of Doom
12. Supernaut / Sabbath Bloody Sabbath / Megalomania
13. Rat Salad / Drum Solo
14. Iron Man
15. Dirty Women
16. Children of the Grave
EXTRAS: Studio Takes THE ANGELIC SESSIONS:
01. The Wizard
02. Wicked World
03. Sweet Leaf
04. Tomorrow’s Dream
Concert Performance Highlights
Here are some of the things that happened during the course of the concert that were notable and even amusing.
The Opening Song
The band opened the show with the title track from their first album, “Black Sabbath.” It is perhaps one of their most famous and well-liked tunes. The words are based on an apparition that Geezer had of a darkly-clad “Spector” that awoke him from sleep.
This “tri-tone-based” hit kicked the show off to a mighty start and is most likely the tune that gave sabbath its satanic appeal back in the early days.
Here is a video from Eagle Rock of the opening song, “Black Sabbath.”
Water And Electricity Do Not Mix
What’s up with Ozzy? In true Ozzy form, he runs around the stage with pails of water, dumping them on his head, soaking the stage, and treating the audience in the front row to the same shower, heavy metal style.
Even though the guitars and mike are wireless, there is still high voltage electrical equipment everywhere, including monitors, multi-effects boxes, and special effects/pyrotechnics systems.
Maybe he needs a basic course in electricity. Hey Ozzy, so that you know, electricity and water do not mix! Luckily no one (at least not that we know of) has been electrocuted.
Tony pulls off a great guitar solo during the song “Dirty Women.” He is playing his white repainted SG (the one without the whammy bar setup). He pulls out all the stops. It’s pretty much a compendium of every classic Black Sabbath riff you have ever heard, all wrapped up in one amazing little package as he takes a trip down memory lane. You can see the look on his face as if this could be his final on-stage guitar solo ever.
Behind The Wall Of Sleep
Geezer does the bass solo to the song “Behind The Wall Of Sleep, which is technically called “Bassically.” He plays it so effortlessly as if he has played it hundreds of times in his career, and that’s because he has. This brief solo has always made this song a favorite of mine, and it may be the only one that Geezer has ever recorded in the studio.
In the middle of “Rat Salad,” Tommy takes an excellent extended solo and pulls it off with machine-like precision. It has the stereotypical format that you’ve probably heard so many times before in large venues, but he definitely manages to make it his own.
Ozzy’s Farewell Speech
Ozzy thanks the audience a few times for their loyalty throughout the years and tells everyone that there would be no Black Sabbath without them. At the end of the show, he tells everyone, “thank you for my life, thank you, thank you, thank you.” No one can deny that Ozzy has had a spectacular life and that he has been blessed in music, family, and finances.
I have to say that Ozzy was definitely my favorite Black Sabbath singer over the years, and not just because he was the original vocalist. However, Ronnie James Dio was awesome, as well. If you compare the music on the Ozzy and Ronnie albums, you can hear how really different it is.
Despite this, I think that the guitar work, especially the solos, was more interesting on the Ronnie tunes, probably because Tony got better and better over the years and Ronnie’s influence on the band. I still like the Ozzy years best, on the over-all. Thanks, Ozzy (and Ronnie)!
The Angelic Sessions
The Angelic Sessions is a 26-minute special feature on the Blu Ray that shows five songs that were recorded after Sabbath’s final performance in Birmingham. They will supposedly be the band’s final studio recordings. They apparently wanted to re-record some of the older songs that they hadn’t performed in a while.
“The Wizard” features Ozzy on harmonica, and he does a damn good job. I almost forget he could do that! “Wicked World” really rocks and shows early Sabbath at its best.
There is also a hilarious dialogue between Ozzy and the studio engineer, who asks Ozzy to do another take of “Sweet Leaf.” Ozzy talks like he is stoned out of his mind. On “Changes,” Tony plays electric piano, and Geezer plays keyboard synth.
Just a few words about the two guitar players who helped me see the musical world very differently and made me a better guitar player in the process.
The Dark Lord Of The Gibson SG
Tony Iommi, who has been called “the dark lord of the riff,” did for the Gibson SG what Jimmy Page did for the Les Paul guitar. It’s hard to imagine Tony without his SG and wall of Laney amps! This is the only band that made me leave a concert thinking that Laney was much cooler than Marshall, and that’s really saying something!
The evolution of Tony’s playing style and his trademark sound was shaped by two unfortunate events that he would ultimately use to his advantage.
A horrible accident with a metal cutter (the day before he was going to quit his job to pursue his career as a professional guitar player) chopped off the middle and ring fingers of his right hand. He made his own prosthetic fingertips to continue playing left-handed and built his riffs around his famous two-finger power chords.
I was just dumb luck that Tony’s Stratocaster bit the dust while Sabbath was recording their first album, and he grabbed his “standby” SG guitar and never looked back. To retain the bite of a single-coil pickup and push his amp into overdrive, he added a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster to the mix, and the unique Sabbath sound was born.
The Rangemaster also played an important role in the sound of Eric Clapton’s 59′ Les Paul on the Bluesbreaker recordings. For more info on Eric, see the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival 2019 Blu Ray Review.
Let’s wish Tony the best of health and hope he comes back to do a Sabbath reunion or solo album.
The Sound Of Thunder
Geezer’s bass playing has always held a special place in my heart. It’s like listening to the “low-end sound of Zeus’s thunder.” He was the first one to play his instrument like a six-string guitar. I love how his playing often parallels Tony’s lead lines. He set the standard in this regard for other bass players to follow.
I bought a stereo with a “loudness” switch when I was in high school to try to make the bass guitar players in other bands sound more like him, but they never really did. Geezer made me buy a Fender bass and have great teenage fun trying to capture his sound.
I can’t imagine what Sabbath would have sounded like without him. He really redefined the term “bottom-end” for this genre of music.
The stage setup is pretty simple, with an LED backdrop screen that runs its entire length. The screen displays videos of gothic images, band members, and the audience at various times. The screen creates quite a bit of lighting at various times, but the stage is still on the dark side.
True to form, Sabbath makes use of pyrotechnics liberally and opens the show with flames on the LED screen and flash pods shooting flames in the air. Variations on this display reappear throughout the show.
The stage gear equipment setup is fairly standard. Geezer has his wall (4 wide by 2 high) of Hartke speaker stacks and plays his signature one-off Lakland bass guitars. Tony predictably rocks his 4×2 wall of Laney cabinets and switches between various vintage SG guitars.
Amplifier heads for the speaker stacks are hidden from sight. Tommy has a typical arena-style double-bass drum setup, complete with percussion cymbals.
In the effects department, Tony has his typical (Cornish?) custom-built effects board, and Geezer has a smaller setup that he uses for his bass solo.
For more info on how you can approximate Tony’s sound with a pedal, see Drybell The Engine Review – Get Killer Vintage British Tone!
Audio Specs And Quality
The blu ray comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack that is very clear and dynamic. On my Bose home theater system, it easily fills the room with live-sounding Sabbath. Tony’s lead lines are sharp and in your face.
Geezer’s thundering bass has a tight low-end, which can make small objects in the room shake if you really pump up the volume. Tommy’s drums are always crisp sounding, and Ozzy’s vocals are in the forefront but don’t overpower the band, although that’s almost impossible to do in the first place.
The stereo LPCM 2.0 track is less dimensional but ideal for a smaller sound system like a soundbar or your TV’s internal speakers. It retains all of the clarity, and the stereo imaging is way above average.
All-in-all, both soundtracks on this Blu Ray really rock! There are no subtitles, which is not uncommon for concert videos.
Video Specs And Quality
The Blu Ray is digitized to a MPEG-4 AVC Codec with a resolution of 1080p. This concert has a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1. It is pro-shot from multiple angles, which work well together throughout the show.
The dark nature of a Sabbath concert presented special challenges, which the film crew addressed beautifully. The video consistently captures the visual nuances of this band on stage. There is no banding or pixelation, and each shot is crisp and clear, even during aggressive stage lighting effects and pyrotechnic scenes.
My Favorite Moments
I enjoyed the entire show but my favorite moments centered around close-ups of Tony playing riffs and solo passages. The video was done using excellent closeups of Tony’s fretboard on-stage or broadcasted on the giant LED screen.
There were also composite shots showing Tony on-stage with a picture-in-picture configuration zooming in on his guitar neck, which was awesome! I’m not too fond of videos where the guitar player is taking a solo, and the photographer is shooting something totally different, like the vocalist or the drummer.
I also really enjoyed the musical interplay between Tony and Geezer on several songs. They have played together for so many years that they know what each other will do before it happens. It really shows how tight they have become since the band’s inception in 1968!
The concert was excellent from start to finish, and it’s hard to focus on one particular thing that really stood out.
What I Wasn’t Thrilled About
This is a great Black Sabbath concert, by any standards. Despite that, I think some things could have been done better, especially for their last show ever.
Where Is Bill Ward?
The elephant in the room is the absence of Bill Ward, the original drummer for Black Sabbath. Bill had issues with the band and some health problems that prompted him to leave a few times during his career.
It would have been great if Bill could have played at least the final show of “The End” tour, which would have brought all the original band members back together one last time. We really missed you, Bill, but I hope you’re doing ok. Needless to say, Tommy did an excellent job in his place.
No Songs From The Ronnie James Dio Era
I realize that Ozzy was probably reluctant to perform songs that he did not have anything to do with during the times that he was no longer with the band, but I think that a few of the biggest Dio-era hits should have been worked into the setlist.
Some major hits came out of Dio’s collaboration with Sabbath. The final tour could have included a few favorites like “Heaven And Hell” or “The Mob Rules.”
I like the Dio-era because Tony really took his guitar playing to the next level with longer and more intricate guitar solos that prominently featured him in many songs.
The encore only consisted of one song on the recording of the final show. The band played “Paranoid” and dropped mostly dark-colored giant balloons for the audience to play with while they performed it. I was expecting a several-song encore with at least 2 or 3 curtain calls, especially during the final Birmingham performance, where they got their start.
No Interviews With The Band Or Backstage Footage
The Blu Ray did not have any band member interviews after their final performance or done anytime during their world tour. I think this would have given some much-needed perspective in terms of the direction that each member was thinking of taking their individual career.
Perhaps they did not want to answer questions about future Black Sabbath reunions or what prompted their breakup. They could have at least included some backstage footage to help make up for it.
This show was a real bitter-sweet moment for me. I grew up with this band from my high school days and never missed a show. I even came home from Italy earlier than planned to catch their concert appearance in Rhode Island. Tony profoundly influenced me as a guitar player and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come.
The Black Sabbath End Tour Blu Ray was superb in every way. The audio and video really captured the magic of the show! They really deserved their place in the Rock And Hall Of Fame and were inducted in 2006. For more info, see Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – The Killer Guitar Players!
Maybe Black Sabbath will do a one-off reunion show in the future or even a concert tour featuring the original members. In the meantime, they should fix their DVD “The Last Supper.” It is an excellent concert with an all-original musical lineup but suffers from interview interruptions throughout the show, making it very annoying to watch.
As a final note, the Blu Ray begins the concert automatically upon loading. Press “disk menu” on your player to view the Play (concert), Songs, The Angelic Sessions, and Audio options.
Tell Us What You Think
Please let us know what’s on your mind in the comment section or if there is anything I can help you with.
- Have you seen the Black Sabbath End tour on Blu Ray or DVD?
- Did you actually get to attend one of the concerts?
- Did the Black Sabbath final tour meet your expectations?
- What is your favorite Black Sabbath song?
- Would you buy the Blu Ray after reading this article?