Heaven and Hell – [Live]

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Heaven and Hell are on tour to support their new release, The Devil You Know, and to be able to see this band at The Warfield in San Francisco was exciting in itself because it may be the only time I (or anyone) will ever see them in a non-arena setting. (The show was moved from the San Jose State Event Center.)

After a short intermission and stage change to what appeared to be the gates of hell (stone work and creepy “evil hand” lamps), Heaven and Hell kicked things off with the moody instrumental, “E5150,” which digressed as the band took the stage and ripped into the Tony Iommi riff-o-matic monster, “Mob Rules.” Next up was the anthem “Children of the Sea” and later followed the doom-laden “Falling Off the Edge of The World.”

The band’s stage presence was in top form as well. While Geezer Butler stood stoic and held everything together with his steady bass lines, Vinny Appice gave his kit a thorough beating (It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a drum solo—nice!). 

The band also broke into a few tunes from the Dehumanizer album, namely one of my favorite songs from that album: “I.” This is such a great song to see live, and while all of the songs show off Ronnie James Dio’s singing prowess, “I” seems to bring out the showmanship that Dio is known for. A true a master of his craft. Another Dehumanizer song that appeared to be a crown pleaser was “Time Machine.” They also played “Follow the Tears” from their new album, which sounds a lot better live than on record. A little raw and not so produced.

The evening hit on high with the huge, epic and gloriously magnificent 15-minute version of the metal masterpiece, “Heaven and Hell.” All clichés were in check: crowd singing, big drama spilling over, guitars louder, drums bigger and lights darker!

The band left the stage to give the crowd a break from the spectacle of “Heaven and Hell,” only to rile them up with what amounted to a “Country Girl” intro into “Neon Knights.” The song really brought the show full circle with its faster-paced style, big guitars and big vocals that just brought the house to a fever pitch.

Criticisms? No, not really. My only wish is that they would have played “Sign of the Southern Cross.” In my humble opinion, that is the band’s best song from the Dio years of Black Sabbath. I never get tired it.

It was great to see this incarnation of Black Sabbath. I’m glad to see Dio, Iommi, Appice and Butler playing songs from a frequently underrated era of Black Sabbath. All band members seem to truly enjoy performing on stage together and their incredible showmanship resonated throughout the show. While some folks in the crowd hoped to hear Ozzy-era songs (Really? You need to hear “Iron Man/Paranoid” again?), in this day and age, I’d put these songs up against anything from the Ozzy era. I hope they continue to play and create together. Forget Ozzy, Heaven and Hell are the elder statesmen of metal.


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