Mistress of Reality

Plush, Friday, April 8

Black Sabbath with sex appeal? Almost ...

Mistress of Reality, the only all-female Black Sabbath tribute band, returned to Tucson last Friday, at Plush.

The near-two-hour performance would have had anyone thinking Sabbath were actually playing if they were not watching the stage. For anyone watching the ladies pay homage to the founders of heavy metal, it may have seemed like the band members were mimicking their parts while Sabbath discs were played over the sound system.

Strobe lights and smoke covered the stage before Mistress ripped into its opener, "Black Sabbath." The power of the group's sound floored and perplexed the crowd. Betsey Butler's bass lines sent vibrations into the crowd, a la Geezer Butler. Frontwoman Izzy Osbourne slowly crept onstage, perfectly mimicking Ozzy's every gesture and expression. Switching positions in the band to guitar, Nicky Iommi was beyond impressive in perfectly replicating Tony's godlike guitar sound.

"Did our drummer have a sex change?" Izzy asked the crowd after the opening number. Conspicuous by her absence, drummer Jill Ward had to fly to Italy due to a family emergency. She was replaced by Monster T, who joined the girls at the last minute without any rehearsal. Izzy also informed the crowd that it was Betsey's first gig with the group, and that it was both Betsey's and Izzy's birthdays.

During "Hand of Doom," Izzy teased and flirted with the gawking males in the front. Drunk enough to think they were at a Sabbath show, members of the crowd started to cell phone bootleg the show after Mistress started "Into the Void."

For two songs, Izzy instructed the crowd that she needed volunteers to help the group out. One happy dude in a Cure shirt was plucked out of the crowd to yell the opening line of "Iron Man." The crowd immediately broke out into a mosh pit for the remainder of the night--something that does not happen at Sabbath shows.

"Tucson finally outdid L.A.," an impressed Izzy announced.

A group of people were pulled onstage to perform the coughing intro to "Sweet Leaf."

Sirens blared and the crowd clapped, sang and headbanged during Mistress' closer, "War Pigs."

Unsure what to think of Mistress at first, by the end of the night, the crowd worshipped the ground they walked on.

Note to Sharon Osbourne: The next time a Nativity in Black tribute album is produced, Mistress of Reality is the one group capable of honoring Black Sabbath.

More by Jon Hobson


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