Black Sabbath – SAP Center, February 9, 2016

Note: All credit for this article is attributed to Jim Harrington

Review: Black Sabbath delivers powerful farewell

Ozzy Osbourne stalked the stage with manic delight. Tony Iommi burned through one face-melting guitar lead after another. And Geezer Butler’s basslines were as heavy as heavy can be.

It was a thing of thundering beauty, made all that more poignant by the knowledge that there won’t be many more opportunities to experience it again.

It was the beginning of a long goodbye for local fans, as the legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath brought its farewell tour to the SAP Center in San Jose on Tuesday. The other shoe is scheduled to drop when Ozzy and crew return to the Bay Area to perform on Sept. 15 at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

The British band managed to underscore all the reasons why it will be so dearly missed during Tuesday’s show. Indeed, Sabbath sounded so strong that, at times, it seemed like an absolutely ludicrous idea for these guys to even be thinking about hanging it up. Yet, if the goal is to go out on top — in peak fighting form — then Sabbath is right on track.

Following the opening set by Rival Sons, the main attraction took the stage and slowly uncurled its namesake song, the epic title track to the 1970 debut “Black Sabbath.” Osbourne’s vocals, which have ranged greatly in quality over the years, sounded comparatively strong on this night — powerful, confident and (mostly) clear. The 67-year-old former reality TV star also showed a goodly amount of energy, running about and clapping his hands.

The group then charged through “Fairies Wear Boots,” from the 1970 quadruple-platinum effort “Paranoid.” Iommi starred in this song, like he did in so many others. The supremely talented guitarist, who has battled cancer in recent years, was a regular volcano of riffs, firing off leads so hot they should’ve come with warning labels.

The sold-out crowd, numbering some 13,000 strong, reacted with great enthusiasm to the heavy metal onslaught. The fans, many of whom were old enough to possibly remember buying “Paranoid” on eight-track tape, sang along at top volume and pumped their firsts in air for much of the approximately two-hour show.

The set list drew almost exclusively from the band’s first three albums. Unfortunately, Sabbath only played one track (“Snowblind”) from what is, by far, its best album — 1972’s “Vol. 4” — and it entirely skipped over 1973’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” Hearing the title track to the later, after all, should be required at all Sabbath shows.

Sabbath did find time for “Dirty Women,” a tune that stands as one of the few reasons for listening to the band’s seventh studio album, 1976’s “Technical Ecstasy.” It also remembered “God Is Dead?” from “13,” the band’s 19th — and supposedly final — album.

Supporting Iommi, Osbourne and Ward — three founding members of the band — was Tommy Clufetos, a powerhouse drummer who has worked with Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and others. Clufetos was handling the beats and rhythms originally made famous by Bill Ward, who left the fold in 2013.

The band closed the main set with an epic run through “Children of the Grave,” which featured more fireworks from Iommi, and then returned for an encore of “Paranoid.”

Fans who missed this show — or simply want more — should think about attending the Black Sabbath show on Sept. 15 at Oracle Arena. Tickets are $45-$150,

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Roadtrip(s) – Q1’16

What a crazy past few weeks this has been!  It’s been an interesting time of change that has encompassed a full-range of emotions from professional enthusiasm to personal reflection.

First of all I would like to thank my wonderful wife for her terrific support and patience. Our life this past month has consisted of lots of car travel, hotel rooms and many other impromptu activities. From a personal reflection standpoint it’s truly amazing how karma treats us all.

charger_sideAs I mentioned previously much of our time has been in the car traveling to-and-from various locations all over the state of California. Fortunately, Brandee had strongly encouraged me to purchase a new car last year and, in retrospect, was this never a better decision. I could not have imagined the horror of having to travel such distances in our other vehicle(s) without air conditioning, heating or other comforts (not that this travel is luxurious in any way, but it’s less suffering indeed). Having a reliable automobile for the insane travel we’ve experienced recently is refreshing so that we can focus on other more important priorities.

nationsOne of the fringe benefits for all this road travel is that you start to notice particular road-show landmarks. A significant landmark that we noticed recently was the NATIONS Giant Hamburgers in Tracy. I had been to a NATIONS long-ago but couldn’t recall anything notable about the experience so Brandee and I tempted-fate with a visit on the road home recently. Brandee ordered a cheeseburger, I ordered a bacon-cheeseburger with a side of onion rings and drinks. Something for sure is that you better bring your appetite when going to NATIONS because they certainly bring quantity. After a delicious breakfast of burgers, ‘rings and drinks we were back on the road home.

floyd oklahoma 2007Above all else, and most importantly, it’s the love of family that is what truly matters in life. Floyd Neal, is my wonderful Dad and the proud father of four sons. His amazing mentorship, encouragement and support is a son’s life-dream. I am so grateful to spend some quality time recently with my eldest brother. His amazing spirit and awesome inspiration is truly infectious. Mike, you are a terrific person; thanks! John, you are an excellent role-model for your son and we look forward to your exciting near-future! And Robert, Dad loves you more than anything and you surely must know that. Dad has been so good to everyone in his life that I nominate him for the Best Dad Ever Award!

Family First,