Sunday, March 27, 2011


An old boss of mine had a line that he would use whenever someone was trying to sell him an idea on the basis that if we went down a particular direction, we would be "pioneers".
"I don't want to be a pioneer", he would reply, "I know what happened to the pioneers; the indians filled them with arrows."

The clip above is from a Black Sabbath concert in Paris in 1970, which has been knocking around on DVD for a while now. When I first saw this concert, what struck me was the audience. You get a good look at them at the start of this clip, as the cameraman helpfully pans across the cinema in which the show takes place. It's not a heavy metal audience. Instead, it's a bunch of French hipsters, who look a lot like the 1968 students from Bertolucci's The Dreamers. You can imagine that they had turned up to see what this new English rock band sounded like; the one that the music press was saying were even louder than the Yardbirds. Louder than the Yardbirds! Ce n'est pas possible! They probably showed Zabriske Point afterwards.

But of course it's not a heavy metal audience. There were no heavy metal audiences before Black Sabbath. No denim jackets with back patches. No studded wristbands. No air guitars. None of the above. Sabbath must have spent the first 5 or so years of their existence playing the likes of N.I.B. and Black Sabbath in front of crowds of bemused hip young things wondering what the devil was going on. That couldn't have been as easy as it sounds. They must have taken a lot of arrows.


  1. Actually the Paris 1970 is fantastic. I don't know if you remember Thumper but ITV screened some of this footage on a Sunday afternoon way back in the late eighties or mid eighties or early nineties I can't really remember.

  2. Yes I do! I reckon it was the 80s, and it was very weird to see vintage Sabbath rubbing shoulders with whatever else ITV put out on a Sunday afternoon back then. Highway, perhaps. or The Sullivans. Anyway, the two things that stuck with me was (i) Ozzy singing into two microphones taped together, and (ii) backstage footage showing the band running down a corridor, their beetlecrushers making a right racket on the floor.