I’ve seen some amazing concerts — from Robby Krieger to Ozzy Osbourne, I’ve been lucky enough to see the majority of my rock and roll heroes live. Though most of those experiences have been right here in the Twin Cities, my own independent travels have shown me how rewarding it is to see a concert in a brand new city. Ever since I saw Black Sabbath on my own in Chicago in 2013, I’ve had a love affair with this kind of chase; the high that comes from venturing out on the road to see a band no matter the distance. The satisfaction that arose from my freedom-filled journey was intoxicating, and band’s overall performance in itself lead me to travel out West to see them play again, this time at one of the most famous concert venues in the world, the Hollywood Bowl.
For me, there’s no better feeling than seeing a band up close. I scored my fifth row ticket the day of the show from Eddie, a super awesome scalper dude who delivered it to me in his cold-blooded, white Chrysler 300 right outside of The Standard Hotel, located smack dab in the middle of sunny West Hollywood. My anxiousness quickly morphed into excitement as he placed the ticket in my hand. In that moment the lyrics of “L.A. Woman” by The Doors rushed through my head: ‘A lucky little lady in the City of Light,’ I truly was.
Seeing Sabbath for the first time in Chicago was definitely a “pinch me” moment, but this time is was even more special. I was flying solo in La-La Land, flippin’ out to my favorite band at the famous Hollywood Bowl of all places! I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I had when I walked through those gates. I was flying on a cloud and felt right at home. Once made my way inside, I walked around for a while and tried to imagine myself there when The Doors played their infamous concert 1968. Everyone has played there, and I was completely trapped in the moment and overtaken by the Bowl’s rich history.
As I made my way down to my seat and glanced up at the rows layered behind me, my mouth dropped. I have never been this close at a concert, and if you read about my first Black Sabbath experience, you know how bad I’ve wanted this. Right away I met the most incredible people; people just like me. Seated beside me was another long-haired, blonde, blue-eyed lone wolf who ended up being my head-banging partner for the night. I’m certain Ozzy Osbourne noticed our shiny locks bouncing up and down in the crowd. I quickly made friends with the security detail around me, and did everything I could to let them know how bad I needed to get backstage. Though that didn’t happen, a guard did me one better — he took the coolest action shot of me right in front of Tony Iommi, and gave me the sacred guitar pick he snatched from the guitar god himself.
Tony looked at me a few times as I was pulling out my hair and screaming “oh my god” at the top of my lungs in the dorkiest Minnesotan accent. He gave me a little smile and continued to shred without hesitation. I can only imagine the psychotic fans he’s seen. He, like Geezer Butler, is so intense yet so strangely calm. I was a little bummed that I was on the opposite side of Geezer, but that didn’t stop me from grooving along to his loud, haunting bass. Every time I looked over at him my eyes went straight to his hands. I couldn’t even focus on his fingers because they were moving so fast!
Ozzy was in extraordinary spirits and looked better than ever. I could tell how happy he was to be in LA — the city he called his “first home” during the show. The last time Black Sabbath played at The Hollywood Bowl was 1972! More than once he demanded us all to go “f—ing crazy,” which, unlike the strange audience at the Chicago show, everyone obeyed. Even two weeks after the show, my neck was still sore! I loved how everyone around me was having such a blast. They all wanted to rock out just like me and there were no uptight people telling me to slow my roll.
The setlist was pretty much the same as it was in Chicago, but seeing it even closer, and in Hollyweird no less, was an indescribable feeling. “Snowblind” had everyone singing along, or screaming, rather, to the cleverly tethered lyrics. My favorite song of the night was “Faeries Wear Boots” because it made me and everyone else jump up and down and dance without restraints. “Black Sabbath” was as eerie as ever, and though there’s no denying the fact that the band’s current drummer Tommy Clufetos is impeccably talented, this song in particular made me yearn for Bill Ward.
There are plenty of songs that they didn’t play that I would have died to hear: “Tomorrow’s Dream,” “The Writ,” “Hand of Doom” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” to name a few. My blonde buddy and I must have shouted “Sweet Leaf” over 20 times but they still never played it. My eyes lit up when Tony started playing the riff to “Supernaut,” but unfortunately it was just a tease, as the beginning of the song led straight into Clufetos’ wicked drum solo. Not many people except for me and some other youngsters were dancing and singing along to the new songs off 13 like “Age of Reason,” “End of the Beginning” and “Loner,” but for me, those performances were the most memorable. It’s clear how much the band loves these new songs, and as a die hard fan of their sound and their always meaningful lyrics, I love them too!
My entire experience in Los Angeles was completely surreal. I still can’t get over the fact that I was in rock and roll heaven, seeing Black Sabbath live at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a tiny taste that left me desperate for more. Leaving was hard because I felt more like myself there than anywhere I’ve ever visited. My two-week, soul-searching hiatus in the city where dreams come true allowed me to obtain a greater understanding of what I’m meant to pursue in life, and I can’t wait to return and start my next adventure out there.