UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was easy to tell Nassau Coliseum was hosting a heavy-
metal concert Saturday night. Males far outnumbered females, leather jackets and
mullets were in full force, and a large number of unopened beer bottles, confiscated by
security, lay at the venue's entrance.
Outside the coliseum, chants of "Ozzy!" and "Sabbath!" cut through the frigid air, as did
Black Sabbath classics pouring from the windows of fans' cars. Younger fans could be
overheard talking excitedly about finally being able to see onstage the original Black
Sabbath lineup -- which hadn't toured in two decades.
There were two other rock bands -- the Deftones and Pantera -- on the bill, but
for the Black Sabbath faithful, there was one band and one band only that mattered on
"Seeing Black Sabbath live is a religious experience," said Kris Fleischmann, 28, of
Baldwin, N.Y. "Ozzy is god."
As the barbed-wire fence that served as Pantera's stage set was broken down and
Sabbath's roadies set up the headliner's equipment, it became clear the band wanted to
let the music speak for it. In contrast to the extensive lighting rigs and heavy-handed
gimmicks of other arena bands, Sabbath brought along a stage that was refreshingly
simple, save for some tall black torches, which remained unlit for most of the set.
After a mini-documentary on the band was screened, Black Sabbath -- singer Ozzy
Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward -- walked
onstage. Osbourne exchanged pleasantries with the adoring throng before the band
launched into the heavy-duty war protest "War Pigs" (RealAudio
At first sight, the members of Sabbath seemed a far cry from their heyday as long-haired
metal freaks -- Ward was sporting a crewcut and Iommi a nifty pair of colored shades, for
But they kick just as hard musically. If anything, age appears to have strengthened
Sabbath's mighty wall of sound.
And they played music almost exclusively from that early '70s era. Except for "Dirty
Women," from Technical Ecstasy (1976), the setlist was confined to Sabbath's
classic albums from 1969 through 1972.
Surprisingly, however, they played nothing from one of their most popular albums,
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1974). Nor did they play either of the two new tracks
from the 1998 Reunion album.
The latter album documented Sabbath's Dec. 5, 1997 reunion gig in their hometown,
Birmingham, England. That was the first gig the original band had played since
Osbourne quit in January 1979. The current tour, which began on New Year's Eve in
Phoenix and continues through Feb. 23 in Salt Lake City, is the first tour the reunited
band has done.
Osbourne jumped excitedly around the stage and threw buckets of water into the first few
rows of the crowd. He even purposely drenched an unsuspecting security guard to the
delight of the fans. All along, Osbourne demanded that the crowd sing and shout with
"Still fresh," exclaimed Matt Baumbach, 24, of Merrick, N.Y., after the show. "Ozzy and his
gang totally kicked my ass!"
While such trusty chestnuts as "Sweet Leaf," "N.I.B.," "Snowblind" and "Fairies Wear
Boots" kept the fans singing, stomping and fist-pumping along, Sabbath also pleased
longtime fans with such oft-overlooked album tracks as "After Forever," "Into the Void"
and "Electric Funeral."
Then, with dry ice engulfing the stage and the tall torches finally lit, they came to the
evening's eerie highlight, their namesake song, "Black Sabbath," in all its plodding glory.
Without giving the audience a moment to regain its senses, Sabbath followed with one of
heavy metal's most recognizable anthems, "Iron Man" (RealAudio
excerpt), which quickly was followed, as always at Sabbath concerts, by "Children of the
Grave," complete with a finger-picked guitar intro by Iommi.
Sabbath left the stage to thunderous applause. In a scene befitting the arena spectacle,
hundreds of lighters were held high in the crowd, as fans waited for the band to rejoin
them. They returned to play the 1970 single, "Paranoid," which was punctuated with loud
explosions. To close the number and the performance, black banners were fired into the
"I was totally moved," said Mike Rossi, 25, of Levittown, N.Y. "Iommi and Ward were
excellent. It's going to take me two weeks to recover."