Over the weekend, classic heavy metal melded with classic dance artistry, as the long-awaited Black Sabbath: The Ballet premiered in Birmingham, U.K. Having been in the works for a while now, attendees got a special surprise when guitarist and riff master Tony Iommi made a surprise appearance at the Black Sabbath during the show’s final number.
Commissioned by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s director Carlos Acosta and Ballet Now, the show took place at The Hippodrome Theater on Saturday, September 23. Over the course of the show, eight re-orchestrated renditions of Black Sabbath songs, as well as some new songs inspired by the band, serve as the backdrop for some highfalutin pointy dance.
Leading up to the premiere, Iommi had also attended some of the rehearsals. To close out opening night, he then joined the accompanying musicians on the last number of the night, which just happened to be “Paranoid.” He even took the traditional, orchestral bow after playing.
And it turns out Iommi wasn’t the only representative of the band that evening, either. Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler and Ozzy’s wife/manager Sharon Osbourne were in attendance, while other rock royalty like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, and Bev Bevan of Electric Light Orchestra were there. Bevan toured with Black Sabbath in 1983 and ’84 and appeared on their 1987 album The Eternal Idol.
After the show, Iommi said on Facebook:
“Thanks to everyone who supported us at the Ballet, we had a great premiere last night. I’m honoured to be involved with these talented dancers. I’m afraid I won’t be joining every performance.”
In addition to “Paranoid,” the ballet also included “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” “Black Sabbath,” “Solitude,” “Orchid,” “Laguna Sunrise,” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.”
Back in April, Iommi told Birmingham World that the ballet helped him see songs he’d been playing for decades in a totally new light.
“I’m looking at our music differently now with [the ballet], because it is being interpreted in a different way. It’s still got the basic things, but then it did have in the different orchestral things coming in. And then I never thought for a minute we would have people dancing to Black Sabbath and ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Iron Man’. But here we are…”
Black Sabbath: The Ballet is running at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, October 21, so if you want to check that out, you gotta get your ass to Birmingham.
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