REVIEW: Black Sabbath Ballet - the heavy metal dance show with the wow factor

If you love music, then you’ll be captivated by the remarkable Black Sabbath Ballet with Birmingham Royal Ballet which has opened at the Hippodrome

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They are the four Brummie icons who rose from humble beginnings to create a whole new genre of music - starting with a guitar chord which had been banned by the church.

And how heavy metal heroes Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward - collectively known as Black Sabbath - are inspiring a whole new genre of dance, along with the insightful creativity of Birmingham Royal Ballet and their director Carlos Acosta.

But it’s far removed from the dark side! From the energising opening set to the rip roaring rocking finish Black Sabbath - The Ballet is a triumph - and it’s refreshing to see so many metalheads in a ballet audience too. If you love music, then you’ll be captivated by this remarkable show.

True to their roots the World Premiere of new dance show, commissioned by Ballet Now, was held in the band’s home city of Birmingham at the Hippodrome on Saturday (September, 23) and was attended by Brumie rock royalty - including band members Tony, Bill, Geezer, Sharon Osbourne, along with Robert Plant, Bev Bevan and others. We joined the press night on Wednesday (September 27) in which Tony amazed the audience with a live guest appearance on stage.

The incredible guitarist worked closely with BRB to create the dance innovation which celebrates the heavy metal story through the powerful precision of the skilful dancers.

Tony Iommi joins the Company of Black Sabbath Ballet for a special guest appearanceTony Iommi joins the Company of Black Sabbath Ballet for a special guest appearance
Tony Iommi joins the Company of Black Sabbath Ballet for a special guest appearance

Act one focuses on the enigmatic appeal of metal music - rising out of the clanking Brumie factories after years of flower power sixties serenity sweeping the country. The orchestral reinterpretation of Black Sabbath classics War Pigs, Iron Man, Solitude and Paranoid is incredible alongside the beautifully emotive dance moves - themes of war, and the monotony of factory work and love sweep through the theatre.

Act Two focuses on the band Black Sabbath itself, providing a fresh insight into the achievements of its members. Tony Iommi’s story is particularly poignant - beginning his working life as a welder he suffered the trauma of losing his fingers at the age of 17 and told he wouldn’t be able to play guitar again.

He tells his own story as the dancer’s skillfully recreate emotions throughout the tale of true Brummie spirit - full of grit and determination - shining through with Tony reminiscing about how he first tried melting down a washing up bottle to fix his hands in order to play, then discovering how a leather jacket zip could help.

Birmingham Royal Ballet Black Sabbath - The BalletBirmingham Royal Ballet Black Sabbath - The Ballet
Birmingham Royal Ballet Black Sabbath - The Ballet

We also hear from Bill and Geezer with Sharon Osbourne telling Ozzy’s story - the global superstar being raised in a two bedroom house in Aston where eight people lived. “His survival method has been to laugh at life,” she tells the show - adding: “They all started with nothing: none of them had anything.”

Ozzy’s vocals are used throughout the production adding to its authenticity and enigma. There’s comedy too. The audience laughed at the stories of rock star life in the 1970s. The band didn’t earn a fortune at first. In fact, Tony Iommi tells how their cocaine bill was higher than the record deal at one stage!

The final act pays homage to the fans and the Black Sabbath legacy which continues to bring joy and a sense of connection to millions worldwide. The dance story unfolds amid a gleaming silver wrecked 1970s car with a demon clasping drumsticks on top. Black Sabbath hit Laguna Sunrise is played alongside Iron Man, Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, War PIgs and Paranoid.

It was an exceptional end to an astounding evening in which two dramatically different artistic genres came together in perfect harmony. It’s a brilliant Brummie masterpiece and a testament to our city’s fearlessness and creativity.

Black Sabbath Ballet is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, September 30 with limited availablity of tickets, more info at: Birmingham Hippodrome Black Sabbath Ballet