(by Eric Goldberg)


I was at the Centrum show in Worcester, MA on November 4 1983 that was later played on FM radio and has since been widely bootlegged/traded.

My friends and I began the evening by going to the local radio station to meet Ian Gillan who was doing an interview there. We were all wearing our favorite concert shirts: I had on my "Death Riders" shirt and a denim vest adorned with Sabbath pins and patches. It had the obligatory cross on the back with "BLACK" running vertically and "SABBATH" running horizontally, the two words intersecting in the letter "A".

The receptionist at the radio station naturally told us that the singer was not there, that she didn't know what we are talking about, and that we had to leave. We went downstairs and waited by the elevator, the only way in or out of the radio station.. A few minutes later the elevator doors open, and a tall dark-haired man walks out. Despite the fact that his then long hair was in a loose ponytail and tucked into the back of his shirt, I recognized him. I showed him the circular banner I had made (the multi-pointed star with the Black Sabbath written as it is on the back of the Born Again album (yes, album). We all got his autograph and talked to him for a few minutes about Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and rock in general before he graciously thanked us for our support and reminded us that he had a gig to prepare for. We were all too aware of that fact, and we naturally excused him.

While it was still early, we walked the block and a half to the Centrum and went in as the doors were already opened. The place was empty, and we went down to our seats about 20 rows back from the stage, right in front of where Tony Iommi would take the stage in a few hours. This would be my second time seeing the band. AS we waited by our seats talking excitedly, a man in black with long black curly hair and a backstage pass walked from the light/sound area on the back of the floor towards the stage. He had to pass us. This is still the subject of great debate among my friends and me: some of us thought he was Tony Iommi; others though the was not. We stopped him, and started to praise him, and he responded in a think English accent that was "not with the band." I reached out with my right hand to shake his, and he reciprocated. None of as thought to look at his right fingertips as we were all scrutinizing his face, and we are still unsure if it was really him.

What seemed like an eternity later, the house lights dimmed and Quiet Riot took the stage. They were all over the charts with a number of pop-metal hits, and I hated them and what they claimed to represent. While everyone else was standing up and going wild for this lame-ass band, I laid myself down across the stead vacated by the standers and took a nap.

As the dimmed a second time, the excitement rose. I expect that most readers have the Worcester show, so I won't go too deeply into the set list save a few comments. Including Suprnaut in the set was astounding and exciting to me. I think I was one of the few who knew it well. The same was true for Rock ' Roll Doctor, except that I was not quite as happy to hear that one. I love the Technical Ecstasy record, but if they wanted to pull something from their late Ozzy years, I would have chosen any number of other songs of that disc or off Never Say Die. When Sabbath begin taking requests from the crowd, I'll be there. Smoke on the Water was an unwelcome surprise. I had read so many interviews in Creem or Hit Parader that they "couldn't see themselves playing Smoke on the Water" and that this was Black Sabbath and not Deep Sabbath or Black Purple, that it seemed hypocritical and just plain wrong. Further, they hadn't played any cover tunes in years (since Evil Woman and Warning on the record), and I did not want to see a cover band.

Ian Gillan yelped, screamed, and howled through the new and older songs, adding his own personality tothe songs. He played bongos towards the back of the stage during a few tunes. The set was Stonehenge, but any issues with the size of the set were long since resolved, and Stonehenge was truly just background.

I had this hobby of collecting Sabbath shirts so I spent every penny I had saved on shirts and the tour book. I even bough a few rare shirts off the backs of some of the older fans who hopefully used the money to buy a new shirt. This was the second time in a row that I saw Sabbath on their tour and was the beginning of a long tradition of seeing Sabbath live that I still pursue to this day, more than 22 years later.

Posted by: Joe Siegler Author Profile Page at May 3, 2010 11:09 PM