Ozzy Osbournes legendary band offers classics, rarities and even new material in Chicago as they wind down their 47 -year career or so they say

A farewell tour by a veteran boulder band is kind of like a hypochondriac relative who insists that this is the year that the end will come. But then the next year arrives and theyre still there, the same as always.

So when Black Sabbath, the pioneering British metal band, named their current world tour The End, it felt definite, but then again, whos to tell, actually? The Objective is actually more like a long goodbye, stretching throughout this year in North America, Europe, Russia and reportedly some more dates in 2017.

The beginning of The Objective happened Friday in Chicago at the United Center, where the band played a two-hour define of snarling hard rock anthems, played according to the rules of strict minimalism but always with brawny execution. With founding drummer Bill Ward sidelined due to a contractual conflict, his former bandmates represented their 47 -year history through a setlist that combined signature anthems from their first four albums with a few rarities and even something new.

For this farewell, there were no tearjerker moments , no screening of an overhead highlighting reel, and certainly no reminiscing from the stage. Instead, singer Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler, and guitarist Tony Iommi appeared on a stage of cloud dressed in black as veteran princes of darkness. Theyve been playing those roles since the start, in doom-laden boulder anthems about social injustices, war profiteers, the despondency caused by drugs, and real world demons that are just as relevant today as they were in the psychedelic 1960 s.

While the band are typically credited as a pioneer of heavy metal, the indicate made clear that their music surpass such a pithy definition. In an early ballad like 1970 s Hand of Doom, you are able to hear how influential the band were in dynamics, tone and structure. You can hear what bands like Nirvana embraced decades later, mixed with the prog-rock spins and turns that defined Sabbaths own era.

Even at this late stage in video games, Black Sabbath remains a genre of its own, blending space jazz and prog-rock, gothic imagery and riff-heavy thunder. A relatively new ballad, God is Dead ?, confirms they havent softened: the sludgy ballad mulls issues of faith through razor-sharp tempo changes and a primal backbeat.

Some anthems were not for casual fans. One from the bands landmark fourth album, Under the Sun/ Every Day Comes and Goes, is expansive in its structure but sonically dense. From that same album, Snowblind replicates the hedonistic days of its epoch through galloping tempos and an unrelenting upsurge of notes fired from Iommis guitar.

Throughout the decades the bandmates have played together, they have had no visible exchanges on stage: each musician remained relatively solitary in his own section. Where they were inseparable was in the music. Iommi and Butler locked together, heads down, generated the audio that defined this band; Iommi operated through a dictionary of riffs and Butler responded with a bass line underneath.

The distortion of Butlers bass introduced NIB, which Iommi then joined for a funky blues duel; later, for Dirty Women, Iommi escalated tension through a three-note pattern that Butler answered. In their hands, a classic such as War Pigs did not lighten its tone of apocalyptic terror. Iommis flawless technique was especially inspiring; he announced a cancer diagnosis in 2012 and this tour is partly considered a final witnes to his legacy. Not knowing about his condition wouldnt have lessened the experience of watching him perform: nothing suggested he had lost any ability or held anything back.

Then there was Ozzy. His tenure as a reality television father have all along distorted his mythic stature onstage. Here he was a centerpiece clown, occasionally hitting flat notes but giving all his remaining energy to the audience.

Thank you all for your loyalty over the years, he told his audience. Then, after the final ballad, he dropped to his knees and bowed down.

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