Black Sabbath Concert Reviews
January 22, 1999
The Alamodome
San Antonio, TX


  • Ozzy Osbourne - Vocals
  • Tony Iommi - Guitar
  • Geezer Butler - Bass
  • Bill Ward - Drums
  • Geoff Nicholls - Keyboards


You can view the photo gallery for this concert here.


From: "lloyd collier" <>
Subject: San Antonio,TX 1-22-1999 Concert Review
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 12:41:46 PST

Last night Black Sabbath rocked the Alamodome like no other band before. Heavy, hard, rough, and raw. Exceptional. Bill Ward is in excellent health and prime condition, playing complex rhythms with extraordinary strength and dexterity. Geezer Butler is his ever- inimitable self, thundering ominous melodies with jazz grace and finesse. Tony Iommi is the god of heavy metal guitar. Extremely technical, perfect lead solos, with driving rhythm chords. Excellent. Unequaled. Unsurpassed. Unparalleled. The best fucking band on earth. Put to rest any rumors you may have heard about Ward's health and/or Iommi's speed. Whoever started that rumor confused the slow-motion graphics on the big screen tvs with the pounding rhythms and lightning-quick guitar on the stage. Obviously Ozzy Osbourne is out of his mind, his sanity the victim of the rock and roll wars. What a showman. The consumate concert band. Apocalyptic rock at the highest level. Dark, mournful lyrics. Heavy metal rock music. There is no substitute. If you don't have your ticket by now, you're a disco dyke fag.

Song List from memory, possibly out of order:
War Pigs
Fairies Wear Boots
Into the Void
Electric Funeral
After Forever
Dirty Women
Embryo/Children of the Grave
Black Sabbath
Iron Man
(fireworks, explosions, Black Sabbath confetti strips)
Changes (on tape)

The best concert performance by a band I've ever seen. And I saw the Never Say Die Tour twenty years ago, and Kiss. 10 Stars. Black Sabbath Rocks!

Scott Collier

Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 10:13:26 -0800
From: "James B. Worthen" <JWORTHEN@UTB1.UTB.EDU>
Subject: Reunion Tour Report - San Antonio

Black Sabbath

January 22, 1999
The Alamodome
San Antonio, Texas

A Review by Jim Worthen

I should be begin by mentioning that, although my interest in the band did decline somewhat after the end of the Ian Gillan era, I have been an avid Black Sabbath fan for many years. I have seen Ozzy and Dio on several solo tours (and have also seen Deep Purple's original lineup), but had never attended a Black Sabbath concert prior to the Reunion Tour show in San Antonio. Moreover, most recent show that I have seen which could be considered a link to Black Sabbath was an Ozzy show in 1986. Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to the Reunion show and had been immersing myself in old Black Sabbath albums since November, when tickets went on sale. Adding to the excitement and anticipation of the show was the fact that I would be attending the show with two old and dear friends (Jeff and Paula). The situation was that I was to fly from Brownsville to Austin (where Jeff and Paula reside) and then we would drive to San Antonio for the show.

We arrived at the show early (well before 7:00 p.m.) and had a chance to look at the souvenirs before the lines became horrendously long. Although I had not bought a concert T-shirt in many years, the available selection was difficult to resist and I definitely wanted to treat myself to something in order to mark what would surely be a momentous occasion. I had flirted with the idea of getting a program, but ended buying a T-shirt. Although there were many Sabbath shirts to choose from, I was torn between a black and purple shirt with "Never Say Die" graphics and the "goatman-devilguy-with-British-and-American-flags-for-wings" shirt. I ended up buying the latter and feel that it was thirty bucks well spent. I should also add that there were some extremely cool Black Sabbath flasks available, but I did not see the price and I am not much of a drinker these days.

The crowd was sparse when Incubus began around 7:00 p.m. and, for the most part, indifferent to the band. In all honesty, my main reason for attending the show was to see Sabbath, so I was only mildly interested in Incubus and Pantera prior to my arrival. Jeff told me that Incubus had been at a Metal Blade Records party he had attended with his former band (Lucid) a few years ago. As such, while Incubus was playing, I mainly thought about the wonderful opportunity they had been given to be on the bill with Black Sabbath and thus playing for what would surely be their largest crowds to date. The only criticism I have regarding Incubus is that the vocalist might benefit from directly facing the audience more frequently.

Pantera began around 8:00 p.m. and the crowd received them with great enthusiasm. Again, I was not especially interested in Pantera, thus I checked my watch several times during their set in anticipation of Sabbath. Altering what was perhaps my peak disinterest in Pantera, the vocalist began what Paula referred to as a "World-Wrestling-Federation-like" rant about how Pantera was "the best modern metal band." However, the irony was that he was saying such things while the rest of the band was teasing the crowd with snippets from Sabbath's "Iron Man" and "Into the Void." Thus, although that moment clearly received the most enthusiastic response from the now large crowd, there was no doubt that it was the Sabbath tease that really ignited the audience. As Jeff pointed out, Pantera's tease doused the audience with the extremely cool reality of the situation at hand: They would soon be seeing the original Black Sabbath playing Sabbath tunes the way they are supposed to be played. No doubt, the crowd became electric with anticipatory excitation.

After Pantera ended their set, nervous anticipation enveloped the crowd. Perhaps like me, the audience had many questions about the impending show swimming through their heads. For example, would Sabbath play some obscure tunes (as I had hoped) or would they stick to timeless classics? Would hearing songs that have received heavy radio exposure (e.g., "Iron Man" and "Paranoid") still be stimulating after all of these years? Would the band be tight and into it or were they just showing up at the gig for the money? With a doubt, the biggest question in my mind was the status of Bill Ward. I was aware of his heart attack a few years back (as well as his poor health in general) and had become concerned by a report that suggested that Vinny Appice was touring with the band in case Bill could not complete the tour. These questions raised fears that he might not be able to really handle the drum chores and might have resorted to keeping simple beats without his trademark array of "blocktungk" fills. Although Jeff and Paula had expressed similar concerns earlier, no such things were mentioned immediately prior to Sabbath taking the stage. It was if we would all be satisfied seeing and hearing the original Black Sabbath in any condition, but we hoped to find them rocking.

Suddenly, the lights dimmed and the much anticipated video which catalogued Sabbath's early years played on three large video screens. The video was cool and featured audio snippets of several classic Sabbath tunes. Then, as the video ended, Black Sabbath rose from trap doors on the smoke-filled stage. Geezer was on the far left, Tony on the far right, and the unmistakable figure in the middle with arms raised was Ozzy. The adrenalin was pumping at full throttle as the signature air-raid sirens of "War Pigs" filled the Alamodome. Then, as the deafening audience clamored with excitement, Bill Ward appeared on the giant video screen playing the crucial high-hat part of the song. I was immediately struck by the unorthodox, but extremely cool, way in which he crossed his arms to keep time on two separate cymbals. Jeff (an excellent drummer himself) would later tell me that the cool-looking maneuver was unnecessary and thus immediately alleviated his fears concerning Bill Ward. That is, if Bill was comfortable enough to show off, then he was certainly fit to rock the show. However, not being as familiar with drumming, I focused exclusively on Bill in order to assess any potential for disappointment. All my fears were immediately put to rest, however, during Bill's first fill which he absolutely nailed with a rapid series of "blocktungks." I cannot begin to convey how completely exhilarating that drum fill was for me. At that point, very early in the opening song, it was obvious that not only was Sabbath going to play, but that they were going to play extremely well.

The euphoria of Bill's "War Pigs" fill was sustained throughout the entire show by Ozzy's impeccable showmanship and charisma. I could go on and on about Ozzy, but let me instead just boil it down to the basics: Ozzy is a success story. No matter what criticism one has to offer, the undeniable truth is that Ozzy Osbourne has been filling arenas with generations of devoted fans for thirty years. He hits the stage with captivating intensity and demands (and receives) nothing less than a rabid response from the audience. Although I can appreciate the other versions of Black Sabbath (e.g., the Dio era), there is no doubt in my mind that there is only one true frontman for Black Sabbath--Ozzy Osbourne. Anyhow, although Ozzy was great throughout, the intensity of his performance during "Black Sabbath" and his working of the crowd prior to "After Forever", "Dirty Women", and "Children of the Grave" was especially memorable.

Being a former amateur guitarist, I was eventually captivated by Tony Iommi for the remainder of the show. Although the entire band was rocking, Tony's cool-as-the-other-side-of-my-pillow professionalism and near-flawless guitar work was difficult to ignore. He provided all of the killer details that tend to be missed by even virtuoso-type guitar players when they cover Sabbath tunes. For example, Jeff, Paula, and I all remarked as to how complete "N.I.B." sounded as Tony coolly added the honking slide accents at the end of each verse. Paula, who was standing between Jeff and I, said that she spent a good deal of time dodging Jeff's and my flailing appendages as we air-guitared along with the song. Tony's leads were sharp and his tone was adjusted to perfectly accent his trademark flutter trills. Although it was all good, Tony seemed to especially shine during "Into the Void" and "Dirty Women."

Although the stimulus overload seemed to prevent me from an extended focus on Geezer Butler, I can say that his playing was solid and that he seemed to be totally into the show. Further, I seem to especially remember times during "After Forever" and "Children of the Grave" when he seemed to be rocking with added fervor.

Overall, the show was excellent and the band was very tight. Essentially, they came out on stange, whipped the crowd into a frenzy, and then maintained that frenzy throughout the entire show. I have been to many arena shows, but this was the first large arena show I have attended in which the crowd (even those in the upper decks) stood and rocked for the entire set. The was not a lull in the show at all. Perhaps mot revealing regarding the band's current status, was the energetic mastery they displayed while playing their timeless classics. For example, the band worked the dynamics of "Iron Man" to perfection. The slow beginning of the song was played at a speed comparable to the recording, but they hit the break with break-neck speed. It was unbelievable how these wily veterans could still deliver an energetic burst that was reminiscent of a hungry young band. Similarly, the band demonstrated excellent mastery of dynamics during "Electric Funeral." No doubt, the show was even better than I had expected. Apparently, Tony, Geezer, Ozzy, and Bill have all benefitted from some cleaner living, years of practice, and the wisdom of experience.