Words: Miljan Milekić
I never really cared for tribute or cover bands. It doesn’t really matter if it’s Joe from work playing with some friends at the local bar, or the more mimicky-gimmicky “real tribute,” or “true experience” bands. So, what in the world was I doing on this show? Well, for one, this isn’t a tribute band. It’s one of Canada’s best hardcore bands, paying tribute to the band they love and having lots of fun doing it. This is a once-in-a-while chance for them to do something different, and share something special with their fans.
And special it was, from the very beginning of their set. Singer Liam Cormier was a sight to behold taking over all of the stage at once, with his cape/bat wings. Not that the said stage of Saskatoon’s Black Cat Tavern is too big, to begin with, but it was more than enough for the band to deliver an hour’s worth of legendary Black Sabbath classics, much to the joy of the sold-out crowd in front of them.
Whether they were taking on slower numbers like ‘Iron Man,’ or going full-steam ahead with likes of ‘Paranoid,’ the crowd would go crazy, either with singalongs or solid mosh pits. The band’s banter between songs was otherworldly, making sure that at no point did we forget who we all came to worship on the night. Even the opening bands – Black Mastiff and Fake Paradise, despite the shout-outs, had their sets “erased from the record, as no Black Sabbath had been played.” Naturally, this is the sole reason why there’s no more mention of them in this article, and things like the show being in the middle of the working week and some things like day jobs getting in the way had nothing to do with it.
Ironically, I never had the chance to see Cancer Bats live before this night, but I know they are one of the most energetic live bands around, and that energy easily translated to this show as well. And my favorite part of the show was that in every moment, it was crystal clear who was on stage. At no point did Cormier try to be, or to sound like Ozzy, nor did the band try to mimic Iommi, Butler, or Ward. They were Cancer Bats playing Black Sabbath songs, giving them a new life, and even more aggression and energy.
The highlight of the night, at least for me, came at the very end, with the ‘War Pigs.’ Despite being my favorite Black Sabbath song, it perfectly sums up the importance of the band, and why their legacy is so strong. Recorded and released 53 – yes, FIFTY FUCKING THREE years ago, one of the ultimate anti-war songs still hits strong, while the lyrics unfortunately still ring true. Hardcore before hardcore? Hail Sabbath!