August 4, 2012


Lollapalooza 2012: Black Sabbath By the Numbers

Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images
Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

The four original members of Black Sabbath, the most influential heavy metal band ever, are still alive. Let that sink in for a minute, given that for years, if not decades, smokin' and trippin' was all that they did. That three of them were on stage at Lollapalooza 2012 (drummer Bill Ward opted against touring with the band) should itself be cause for excitement, with any actual music played considered mere gravy and confetti.

But after a brief medley showing video from the band's classic early '70s days, the sound of guitarist Tony Iommi's "Devil's Interval" from "Black Sabbath" rang out and 42 years of subsequent music vanished. The three original members on stage are a combined 190 years old, with Ozzy especially a bit out of step in the beginning. I begin to think that for the first few songs, he doesn't actually know there's a band playing music behind him. But as the group settle in to a crowd of both diehard fans and curiosity seekers, and Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler sounding as magnificently doom-and-gloom as ever, they know what the audience want. Shut up and play the hits. Even casual metal fans, upon hearing "Iron Man," "Paranoid" and "War Pigs" in the same set, had to be happy, as the Sabbath greatest hits set is the blueprint for everything that followed. Here's the definitive by-the-numbers breakdown.

Set time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Number of songs: 15

Number of songs performed from Sabbath's prime 1970-1972 era: 14 (With 1976's "Dirty Women" thrown in for some reason) 

Estimated temperature on stage: 100 degrees

Number of songs before Ozzy looked like he just came out of a swimming pool: 3

Average age of crowd: 35

Number of girls dressed in full rave gear: 1

Number of women over the age of 45 with tramp stamps and cut-off shirts in the crowd: Stopped counting at 20

Number of brown-bagged alcohol bottles passed to me because, as one man put it, "It's f*ckin' Sabbath!": 1

Number of disparaging comments heard about the Black Keys, who were playing at the same time: 3

Number of members wearing all black: 4 (100%)

Number of crosses on Tony Iommi's fretboard: 12

Number of Bedazzler crosses on Ozzy's shirt: 1

Number of members who could conceivably pass as British grandmothers: 3

Number of catchphrases in Ozzy's arsenal that the singer would just rotate throughout the set: 4 ("Let's see you go crazy!," "Everybody jump!," "Let me see your hands!," "I can't f*ckin' hear you!")

Percentage chance that Ozzy literally couldn't, in fact, hear you: 80

Number of incongruous rainbow hula hoop dancers possibly still dancing from Passion Pit's set earlier that day:

Number of sing-alongs: 1 ("War Pigs")

Number of years "War Pigs" has been applicable: 42

Number of false endings in Tommy Clufetos' drum solo: 5

Number of women hugged by Ozzy: 1 (The sign language interpreter)

Number of band members who did the crowd's job by chanting "One more song" before the encore: 1 (Ozzy)

Number of devil horns thrown in the air: Hundreds

Track listing:

1. Black Sabbath
2. The Wizard
3. Behind the Wall of Sleep
4. N.I.B.
5. Into the Void
6. Under the Sun
7. Snowblind
8. War Pigs
9. Electric Funeral
10. Sweet Leaf
Drum solo
11. Iron Man
12. Faeries Wear Boots
13. Dirty Women
14. Children of the Grave
15. Paranoid