A review by Nathan Craddock

Hi Joe...

Well, I told you many months ago I would send you this review, and I weren't kiddin'. So here it is. You might want to hyperlink this to both November 16 and 19 of November 1978 during the Never Say Die tour since only Van Halen played on the 16th and the 19th was Sabbath's make up show. It was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, so I'll do the best I can to remember back in the day, Man. Disco was in; we believed that it sucked. Well, Sabbath is still here, and Studio 54 closed down a long time ago.

First off, I showed up at Nashville, Tennessee's Municipal Auditorium on November 16, 1978. I have some profound memories of shows in this place; I saw Sabbath, Rush, Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper, Van Halen (including these shows) and many other bands that actually included guitar solos, remember those? I couldn't tell you whom I was with that night, but It was probably my ol' pal Pepe (pronounced peppy). I am sure that the place reeked of reefer, since all of those concerts did back then, Man. So I was a young buck of 14, and a true Sabbath fan. I got started young. I know; it's bad. I had heard of this band named Van Halen and somehow got them confused with some guy named Van Morrison. Van Morrison didn't play that night. But, the opening act, which I had never heard before, was pretty damned kick ass. I will get into the significance of these two acts playing this show later, but let's say that Van Halen was a marked contrast to Black Sabbath. They were a particularly athletic band, both visually and aurally. They represented Southern California glitz, excitement, and energy. We all know about Van Halen's style today, so I need not continue. I was particularly blown away with this new tap off thing that made the guitar player sound like he was playing 1000 miles per hour. This was the early intro of shred, as heavy metal and hard rock music was becoming less rooted in the blues.

So here's what happened next: Nothing happened next. About 15,000 or so people, probably more, waited around for about an hour, and then this poor guy came out on stage, whose job it was to tell the entire crowd of rowdy Sabbath fans, hell raising southerners at that, that there would be no show that night and to come back the following Sunday November 19 to see the band. Everyone was instructed to get a little movie theater type ticket, the kind you've seen at every state fair, and return with it for admission. Needless to say, the place went fairly well ape shit. You must remember, this was not a canceled Pavarotti show. Somebody threw a fire extinguisher at one of the drum sets; people were chucking implements at the glass that surrounded the entire arena. I remember one guy kicking a trash can down the hallway, yelling and screaming, seriously pissed off. Thus, it was a pretty unmanageable scene. Yet, the upshot is that I got to see Van Halen again, which was pretty cool, since they were a very hungry badass new band that had not yet recorded the song Jump!

So, finally, out came Sabbath. I can't remember specific songs; I have only a general impression since it has been so long. Judging from your site's set list, it is probably accurate. It was dark, heavy, and just beautiful. Tony Iommi's guitar was piercing and bludgeoning, just like on the albums. I remember Geezer Butler wailing away on his bass. He had a bunch of curly hair and a big seventies mustache. I actually saw the original Sabbath back in the day! Ozzy apologized to the audience and sort of laughed saying "Too many drugs." I am not sure if this was a rumor, the truth, or a figment of my imagination, but I thought I heard that Ozzy passed out in somebody else's hotel room, I assume without anyone in the entourage knowing where he was. Whether this is true or not, stranger things have happened with this band, I am sure. One thing about Black Sabbath that is for sure, they are one of the loudest bands I have ever seen and heard. My ears rang for three days after this. The same thing happened later when I saw the Mob Rules tour. The only other band that has equaled Sabbath's volume that I have seen is the punk, hardcore band DRI.

Now, for a little analysis, Van Halen and Black Sabbath were two very different bands, and I believe this show represented the changing metal scene. Sabbath was the older blues heavy, very dark, very British band, while Van Halen represented the new wave of spontaneous fluorescent heavy metal that would come to dominate much of the 80's. It was still quite good at this stage, but it turned into a lot of vapid hair metal as time went on. VH were quite good players and were very American, SoCal in particular. Sabbath was as heavy and melodramatic as it could come. Contrast the colors black (what else) and fluorescent green to get my drift. Both were great in their own rights and offered much to the spectator. Ozzy, I believe, jumped on the band wagon when he hired Randy Rhoads and company to form a flashier solo act. Consisting of skilled Southern California metal players, Ozzy's act was a formidable competitor to the Van Halens of the day.

I am glad as hell I saw Sabbath when I did; the same goes for Van Halen. I probably hold Sabbath a bit more precious as a live experience since the original line up broke up shortly thereafter, and I got to see Van Halen a number of time throughout the years. I am glad that so many years after, Sabbath is still going strong as ever (their live DVD attests to this) and the guys are living drug free. And, Ozzy can find the right hotel room.


Nathan Craddock

Posted by: Joe Siegler Author Profile Page at December 1, 2009 10:32 PM