Support from Forever Sabbath
Back:n:Black return to the UK stage after a significant period of time due to COVID restrictions limiting touring opportunities. This particular visit is also notable for some considerable changes in line-up with only BB remaining from the previous tour.
This time around we had the very talented Helen Hurd handling vocals, Keira Kenworthy on bass, Deborah Wildish on drums, BB, as usual, on rhythm guitar and it should have been new recruit Anna on lead guitar but Anna is Ukrainian and is stuck in Kiev. As the band try to help Anna get away from the war zone the lanky Angus Young lookalike (snigger) Dave Peacock from Let There B/DC stepped in at very short notice.
However, before the new, if temporary, line-up, which is also largely unrehearsed, comes on stage Black Sabbath tribute band Forever Sabbath entertain the crowd with a set of Ozzy era bangers with one Dio era tune thrown in at the end for good measure.
Fronted by Dan Smith sporting possibly the worst Ozzy wig in the world (it makes him look like Ozzy on drugs . . . oh, hang on . . .) the band launch into Sweetleaf from Master of Reality (a misnomer if ever I’ve come across one). This was swiftly followed by Children of the Grave from the same album. I have to say that the songs from these early albums are, by far, my favourites having reached puberty at the same time that Black Sabbath emerged (yes, I’m that old).
I think it was at this point the blue circular specs came off to reveal Dan’s bloodshot eyes as the Snowblind intro gets played – maybe the specs came off too early, who knows. The audience continued to yell their encouragement and song titles in the hope the band would play them, all largely ignored of course. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Fairies Wear Boots and NIB followed in quick succession before the band leap forward from the early 1970’s to 1976 and the release of Technical Ecstasy to play Dirty Women. The was enough of insulting the audience so the band returned to 1970 again to play the band’s self-named track followed by Iron Man and War Pigs.
We had reached the end of Ozzy-era songs and the band finished with Heaven and Hell from the 1980 album of the same name at which time the band was fronted by Ronnie James Dio. ‘Nuff said.
The Ladies from Hades (and Dave) hit the stage to rapturous applause and throughout the night BB & Randy made references to Anna’s plight and how folks could help.
This was to be a long set of mostly singalong tracks and the band immediately got cracking with Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be and then, almost without drawing breath, Demon Fire. Time for the audience to chip in as the ladies laid down Back in Black, Walk All Over You, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Riff Raff, all of which had the fans singing along. Mr. Peacock strutted across the stage doing his very best Angus impressions, Ms. Hurd belted out some scarily loud vocals, Keira drifted ethereally in her black leather cat suit and BB . . . well she was just BB! A little break to say a bit more about Anna before continuing with fan favourite Hells Bells and High Voltage which segued via a hybrid groove into If You Want Blood. As usual at this point the fake blood poured from BB’s mouth but I guess rather than spit it into the crowd it dribbled down her chin and onto the stage – the audience were safe!
Time for the intros and Keira headed off into a nice bass riff as she was introduced to the crowd and then it was straight into Live Wire. This was followed by Mr. Peacock showing his mastery of the guitar before the band managed to get themselves Thunderstruck!
At no point did the band stop for breath; the music and chit chat was constant, the interactions with the audience continuous, the entertainment near faultless. The introductions were [almost] completed as they dived into You Shook Me All Night Long, and the BB realised she had forgotten to introduce Deb on the drums – so a bit late but the intro came and well deserved applause followed.
As the set draws to a close the ladies (and Dave) Shoot to Thrill and let loose the TNT before collapsing on the stage leaving the audience to stretch their necks trying to see them prostrate.
It was a new beginning as the band steps back onstage for the encores. Let There be Rock and Highway to Hell got the party started before For Those About to Rock got us to the last song. The Forever Sabbath lads rejoined the stage as the combined bands covered Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name as a tribute to the events in Ukraine and, for one night only (maybe), Back:n:Black’s manager and tea-maker, Randy, hooked up a guitar to play along.
One last time BB and Randy reminded people of the situation Anna was in and asked for help to get her to safety.
Another high octane night with the Ladies from Hades who put on a fine show in honour of Anna.
Words and images: Reg Richardson
[Postscript: Anna got out of Ukraine and eventually into Switzerland where she is staying with BB as the band make all efforts to get her refugee status confirmed – look out for updates on the band’s Facebook and Twitter feeds]
If you want to help financially BB has set up a number of options for Anna:
*Bank Transfer* (no charges): BURRITO BOOKERS IBAN: CH61 0900 0000 1225 9472 9
*TWINT* (no charges): +41 763251697
*GoFundMe* (they take a %): www.gofundme.com/help4Anna