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Black Sabbath | British Summertime, Hyde Park – 04/07/2014 | Live Review

We headed down to Hyde Park’s British Summertime to check out the main stage bands, including headliners Black Sabbath and many more. Find out what we thought of the heavy metal icons right here!

Credit: Official Website

For two weeks Hyde Park has been taken over in order to play home to some incredible shows. Friday 4th July was the night all metal fans had been waiting for: the return of Black Sabbath! The band played to a packed out Hyde Park alongside Soundgarden, Faith No More, Motörhead, Soulfly and Wolfmother on the main stage. We hung around the main stage to catch all the acts, check out what we thought here.

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Credit: Official Facebook

Soulfly are the first band up on the main stage today and they’ve got some pretty big boots to fill looking at the line-up ahead. The American metal band may not be as well-known as other acts set to play today, but set opener ‘Prophecy’ still gets a pretty decent reception from the crowd. Their style of music is unique, as they incorporate their typical heavy metal with tribal drums, death-metal vocals and even some dub-style beats here and there. It’s an interesting sound, but for some reason their set doesn’t really seem to pick up as it goes on. They play for 30 minutes, but the band only manage to really engage the entire crowd as a whole when they introduce a Soulfly chant for us to sing back to them. ‘Eye for an Eye’ is their final track and, looking around Hyde Park, it seems that people are happy to listen to them, but also more than happy to look ahead to the next band.

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Credit: Official Facebook

Credit: Official Facebook

Rock legends Motörhead only have a second-place slot on the main stage today but, judging by the huge crowd that has turned up for their set, they could easily be supporting the headliners tonight. Since forming in 1975, Motörhead have released 21 studio albums over nearly 40 years so it’s no real surprise that they’ve got so many fans desperate to see them, especially since recent health issues with frontman Lemmy have raised questions of the band’s future. As they stroll on stage, anyone with a pair of eyes can tell these guys have been playing gigs for more than half their lives as the idea of playing to thousands of people in London’s famous Hyde Park doesn’t seem to faze them whatsoever.

Motörhead kick off their set with 1979’s ‘Damage Case’ and, despite well-documented health problems, the band sound absolutely no different than the day they started. The deep riffs from guitarist Phil “Wizzö” Campbell, the incredible drum solo from drummer Mikkey Dee and the distinctive gravelly growl of vocalist Lemmy are on point. More recent songs from their latest album Aftershock, such as ‘Lost Woman Blues’, get a polite cheer but dampen the mood slightly as, unfortunately, people are eager for their old favourites rather than newer, lesser-known tracks. However, the atmosphere is electric when Motörhead blast out their final two songs, ‘Ace of Spades’ and ‘Overkill’, leaving the set on a definitive high note. It’s hard to tell how much longer Motörhead will be able to keep up their live shows, but from today’s performance we don’t think they’ll stop until they literally drop.

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Credit: Band Promo

Throughout the day a lot of Faith No More t-shirts have been drifting before our eyes, hinting towards big things for their set this afternoon. Their stage set-up is exciting, with church flowers lined up on the edge and the band walking on dressed head to toe in vicar’s robes. They enter with a big stage presence, but unfortunately the bubble bursts as their set goes on. Their music is pretty faultless, with the strong vocals of frontman Mike Patton ringing clearly across the park, but the atmosphere they create sadly falls flat. They play for over an hour and, during their set, they debut some brand new songs such as ‘Leader of Men’- as cool as it can be to hear a world premiere of your favourite band’s new song, a festival probably isn’t the ideal place for it as it halts the momentum. There are songs that seem to really excite the crowd, such as ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and a cover of Commodores’ ‘Easy’, but as a band that are only two slots away from headliners Black Sabbath, they could probably have brought something much more lively to the stage.

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Credit: Official Facebook

There’s a lot of pressure for Soundgarden tonight; getting a crowd of 50,000 metal-heads ready for Black Sabbath is a big responsibility, and it all falls on their shoulders. They stand out a little from the rest of today’s main stage line-up, considering they were part of the Seattle grunge movement in the ‘90s, and that can only push them to deliver even more. In spite of this, they’ve still managed to draw a respectable following today and people seem pretty pumped to see them. As the band, fronted by alternative rock hero Chris Cornell, introduce themselves and announce that they will be performing their 1994 album Superunknown from start to finish for the final time, they are welcomed to the festival with open arms.

This breakthrough album is a perfect way for Soundgarden to relate to the majority of the audience as it saw the band reach commercial success in the ‘90s and, if you only know one or two Soundgarden songs, they’re bound to be on this album. Although it limits the range of songs for the band to choose from, Superunknown has a load of great songs that keep the setlist varied and spirits high. Tracks such as ‘The Day I Tried to Live’ and ‘Limo Wreck’ have people singing along, while ‘The Wave’ gives the fans – and the band – a chance to have some fun with the set. Chris Cornell might be approaching the big five-oh, but his energetic stage presence and recognisable grunge vocals haven’t aged a bit, and he still finds the ability to capture the whole crowd. While the final song ‘Like Suicide’ might not be the most upbeat end to a performance, they still leave the stage to screams and cheers. They’ve done their job well.

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Credit: Official Facebook

Hyde Park’s annual British Summertime festival has been officially renamed today to become Black Sabbath Time in honour of tonight’s headliners, and there’s no doubt that today is all about them. As the penultimate main stage band warm up the audience, the excitement builds and the crowd piles in as Black Sabbath Time approaches.

Ozzy Osbourne may not be a wild and crazy as he used to be* – come on, the bloke is in his sixties, give him a break! – but he still deserves his long-running title as the Prince of Darkness. As bats fly across the big screens and the sun begins to set, Black Sabbath command the stage without even having to say a word in their trademark black outfits as opening track ‘War Pigs’ begins to play. The politically-fuelled song is supported by stunning cinematography and a roaring crowd, giving the band the perfect opener for tonight.

With almost 20 studio albums to choose from, Black Sabbath have a whole pool of hits they could have dipped their toes into for tonight’s show and it’s impossible to predict how this set-list is going to turn out. While they could have crammed as many songs as possible from the past six decades into two hours, they instead pick a select few and make the most of them. Old classics such as ‘Into the Void’, ‘Black Sabbath’ and ‘Iron Man’ are intertwined with tracks from their latest album, 13, including ‘Age of Reason’ and ‘God is Dead?’, but almost every song is at least five minutes long, if not more. Despite the occasional feeling that perhaps one or two are a little too drawn out, the extended tracks mostly make for an epic atmosphere. Nothing can spoil the mood; not even the mention of Ozzy’s controversial wife Sharon Osbourne (who is often out of favour with Black Sabbath fans) during the introduction of ‘Fairies Wear Boots’, or the ongoing downpour of typical British rain. In fact, the weather only adds to the atmosphere – watching Black Sabbath in the moonlight and rain seems actually very fitting.

The band disappear, but only for a minute as screams and chants from the drenched crowd bring them right back. Yet another amazing VT shows up on the big screens and hints towards the encore, which can only be one song, arguably Black Sabbath>’s most famous hit, ‘Paranoid’. Sure enough, guitarist Tony Iommi plays one of metal’s most recognisable riffs with as much precision as a live show can ask for and the band finish off two hours of eye-watering heavy metal with style. While the question of Black Sabbath’s future performances may hang in the balance, this is a night both the band and the fans won’t forget in a hurry.

*no bats were harmed for the duration of this performance.

Reviewer: Sam Lawrie

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