Black Sabbath - Heaven & Hell the Dio Years + Down
Entertainment Centre, Newcastle; 8th August 2007
For many years the Dio era of Black Sabbath has long remained in the shadows of the great work that was done with Ozzy Osbourne. Unfortunately for Ronnie his era was often unfairly compared to the earlier Ozzy releases and to this day there are many that believe that Black Sabbath without Ozzy is not Black Sabbath. If you are one of the misfortunate that fall into this category then I feel sorry for you as you just may well miss out in 3 of the best albums Sabbath released. Many bands have survived when the vocalist has changed (Helloween and AC/DC are still kicking strong) and Black Sabbath at that moment in time was no different.
On a cold winter night my wife and I arrive at the venue and it is the first time I have seen a bar set up outside the venue (for all the smokers!) Walk into the venue and there is a good sized crowd building already at 7pm. We make our way to one of the 2 indoor bars (fuck the cold!) and met up with a few friends and a few beers. A quick survey of the crowd showed that it was fairly mixed, lot of younger guys but also a lot of mums and dads with teenage kids. What I am still struggling to figure out is why the hell they bring a band like Down to support them, with the quality of bands out there that could have been the support. Iced Earth was the support on the American leg of the tour; could you imagine if that double bill made its way down under? I suspect Down being the support was the work of the promoters who need to look a little harder in their choices for support acts. Anyway if you are looking for a review of Down`s show you won`t read it hear because I`m not a fan and the Carlton Draughts were going down too good.
When the house lights went down it was time to find our seats, 10th row back not too bad at all. The stage looked incredible. Across the length of the stage was an old iron fence and at opposite ends was a wall of stone with crosses for windows. It reminded me of that old church in the original Omen movie where the priest gets impaled by a spear. The intro `E5150` started over the sound system and from out of the shadows emerged possibly the greatest living legend of the metal genre - Tony Iommi with his trademark Gibson SG. Tony was joined by the great Geezer Butler, Vinnie Appice and Ronnie James Dio, one of the most highly regarded vocalists of our time. Immediately bursting straight into `Mob Rules` I was blown away by how polished they sounded. The years and years of touring both together and in various incarnations showed as tonight the band never missed a beat. The band played a set comprised from mainly the `Mob Rules` and `Heaven and Hell` albums, with one song from `Dehumanizer` (Computer God) and one new song from the recently released Best Of Black Sabbath: The Dio Years (Shadow of the Wind). Dio`s voice is as strong today as it was 25 years ago. For someone so little he has an awesome stage presence - bouncing from one end to the other. Watching these guys on stage and realizing that they are at the age where they would qualify for the pension is scary. Halfway through the set Vinnie blasted out a drum solo showing he is still up there with the best of them. The band played an extended version of `Heaven and Hell` with Tony ripping through a number of solos towards the end of the song. They then left the stage to a standing ovation and the call of "Sabbath Sabbath Sabbath" resonated through the Entertainment Centre. Sabbath answered the call and came back out and blasted the most famous song of the Dio era `Neon Knights`. All agree it was a killer show; these guys are not letting their age slow them down in any way. After 2 hours it had finally ended and it was still only 11PM. We left for West Leagues for more beer and Horse racing machines but that`s another story…
Children of the Sea
Sign of the Southern Cross
Falling Off the Edge of the World
The Shadow of the Wind
Heaven and Hell