On Tuesday, the 17th of September, Craig and Myself got in the car, put on the tunes (varying from Cattle Decapitation to Tame Impala) and set off on a brisk, gloriously bright and warm Tuesday on a car journey to sunny Birmingham.
Whilst this is not an everyday occurrence coming under a normal day’s work at the BME it was for a darn good reason. We were heading off to check out the Black Sabbath Exhibition in Birmingham’s Music and Arts Gallery! As we are the BME’s walking, talking Metal Encyclopaedias, we decided we should check it out and see what the all fuss was about…as you can tell, we clearly have a tough job at times, but somebody has to do it….
Upon entering the building where the exhibition is housed, you are greeted with by the words BLACK SABBATH in huge golden letters, the logo so familiar to fans of heavy music Worldwide. We enter the space to the glorious sound of “Electric Funeral” and straight off the bat (Ozzy pun? Maybe) you are IMMEDIATELY immersed into the Black Sabbath Universe, or should that be Void? Either way, it’s full on from the word go.
Starting with the backstories of each individual member made you feel personally connected to Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill and set the tone for the rest of the experience, and this experience has EVERYTHING a Sabbath nut would want to see in an exhibition like this, with classic after classic playing in the background everywhere you walk, plus a few nice surprises.
A cabinet dedicated to each original band member with personal effects was an early highlight of the exhibition and as a guitarist an amazing moment was seeing one of Tony Iommi’s early iconic Gibson SG guitars as featured on Black Sabbath (Live in Paris 1970).
Seeing gig posters and artwork spanning the band’s career you realise just how huge Black Sabbath were all over the world, not just in your corner of it. You are also treated to some of the band’s iconic stage outfits along with instruments, artefacts, collectables and some vintage and rare Black Sabbath merchandise. As you make your way around the space the walls are emblazoned with quotes from everyday fans and famous metal musicians. All of them carrying the same message that in their own way, that Black Sabbath musically changed everything and how their music has impacted people’s lives. It really does hit you when you see how varying these quotes are and from how far around the world they come.
Along with a meticulously faithful recreation of Tony Iommi’s home studio (yes, really!) there is a room with a stage set up, which has Guitar and Bass cabs set up either side of it, with projections of various live performances from over their career. This is Sabbath heaven!
Being able to listen select cuts from every album from Black Sabbath to Never Say Die whilst reading the history of each relevant album is a simple, but welcome highlight, as is the opportunity to play your favourite riffs on a fine selection of Gibson guitars (I think I played Children of the Grave on every guitar I picked up), and a lot of these guitars were Tony Iommi signature SGs which again, was a nice tie in to the overall experience.
Lastly, we were treated to a ton of fan made scrapbooks, cut off denim jackets with every patch you could imagine stitched onto them, and a Black Sabbath Harley Davidson, surely the most metal motorcycle ever built. Short of having Tony, Bill, Geezer and Ozzy stood in cabinets waving at people on the way out this was the ultimate Black Sabbath experience.
There is a dedicated gift shop area on the way out, and it really is worth a look as, it is very considerately put together and has a lot of great things in there, including nods to other great rock and metal acts related to Sabbath and the city of Birmingham, aka the Home Of Metal.
If you are a fan of Black Sabbath in ANY way, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
The only thing left to do was blast Sabbath tunes all the way back to Liverpool, so you can imagine how that went!
All in, this experience was an EASY 13/10 \m/ \m/
Black Sabbath - 50 Years is an exhibition celebrating the band, their legacy & the fans and runs June 26th to September 29th 2019