At The Metro Arena, Newcastle, U.K., November 4, 2007

When Messrs Dio, Iommi, Butler, and Appice reunited to record three new tracks for Black Sabbath’s The Dio Years compilation, it set the ball rolling for what was one of the most eagerly awaited reunions in recent years.

Adopting the name “Heaven And Hell” to avoid any confusion with the Ozzy Osbourne fronted version of Black Sabbath was a shrewd move and enabled the band to concentrate purely on the Dio-era material. The first fruits of this liaison in the live arena were captured on the excellent Heaven And Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall DVD, which was released earlier this year.

With anticipation levels running high for a tour featuring Iced Earth and Lamb Of God, show time couldn’t arrive quickly enough.

Iced Earth Iced Earth were first to hit the stage and their thunderous brand of Power Metal went down well. Tim Owens is just the singer that Iced Earth have needed all these years to take them to the next level and beyond. With a set based around their new album Framing Armageddon, including the menacing “A Charge To Keep” and the galloping “Ten Thousand Strong,” as well as some classics from their past, including an immense “Declaration Day,” Iced Earth were impressive. The mix of Owens’ soaring vocals and Jon Schaeffer’s razor sharp riffing certainly caught the attention of many in the crowd.

lamb Unfortunately the same could not be said for Lamb Of God. Randy Blythe’s guttural growls and lack of any discerning melody proved too much for many of the “older” punters and they headed en masse to the bar. Having said that, there was a significant number in the crowd sporting Lamb Of God T-shirts and seeing the swirling mosh pit as the riffs intensified showed the younger element were having a ball. It must have been a generation thing!!!

When the lights went down and the bubbling and swirling of “E5150” drifted through the speakers, the moment that everyone was waiting for finally arrived. As the monumental riff of “Mob Rules” thundered forth, the night was set for an evening of some of the finest riffs ever laid down. It was particularly pleasing to hear a natural set opener such as “Mob Rules” take its rightful place rather than “After All (The Dead),” which opened the USA leg of the tour.

Heaven and Hell The classy “Children Of The Sea” and the driving riff of “I” followed in quick succession before one of the great highlights of Black Sabbath’s catalog arrived. With the stage bathed in an atmospheric, yet eerie violet veil of light, the gentle acoustic refrain and tender Dio vocal of “Sign Of The Southern Cross” soothed and caressed before the gargantuan, monolithic riff, all proud and majestic, bulldozed all before it. Now, this song really is a lesson to all those lesser bands out there. Speed and screaming does not equal Heavy. “Sign Of The Southern Cross” has it all: a colossal riff, a fantastic, dramatic melody, and a delivery that is simply stunning. Ronnie James Dio excels on this and in fact throughout the night his performance was nothing short of astonishing. As his peers struggle with the ravages of time, Dio continued to perform at the highest possible level.

 Heaven and Hell “Voodoo,” which features an effective, spooky skeleton light projection through the church windows, gave drummer Vinnie Appice his moment in the spotlight. Now that’s what you call a drum kit, none of this nancy bass, snare, hi-hat and 1 cymbal set up that some of the newer bands seem to favor these days. No, this is the real deal and includes bass drums up on stands to the side of his kit to give that extra thump to his playing.

“Computer God” from Dehumanizer brought the band back onto the stage and sounded so much better than it did on the album.

 Heaven and Hell Like “Sign Of The Southern Cross,” “Falling Off The Edge Of The World” saw the band at the very pinnacle of the genre. Again, a gentle haunting introduction and a delicate Dio vocal paved the way for one of their most monstrous, driving riffs. If this riff doesn’t knock you off your feet in amazement, then you’re listening to the wrong music.

Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, who flank either side of the stage, pumped out riff upon riff of such immense power it would come as no surprise if the foundations of the Arena have crumbled into dust. Neither Iommi nor Butler stray far from their positions, leaving most of the flamboyance to Dio, who throws out every Metal shape in the book.

Heaven and Hell “Die Young,” one of the standout tracks from the classic Heaven and Hell album, rattled along at a fair pace, and when the song stopped dead, mid-section, just before the solo, with Dio shrouded in a single shard of light, that was one very dramatic moment.

 Heaven and Hell Closing the set was what else? but “Heaven And Hell” itself. A monumental slab of Doom-laden riffs, a towering, pulsating diamond of a song, one where Dio proves beyond doubt that he is the finest Hard Rock singer of them all.

The light show throughout the set and particularly during “Heaven and Hell” was simple, yet devastatingly atmospheric, creating moods and shades to perfectly complement the music.

The first encore and one and only new song of the night, “Shadow Of The Wind,” fit into the set perfectly with its bone crunchingly heavy riff, boding well for the rumoured new album in 2008.

 Heaven and Hell “Neon Nights” thundered along, bringing the set to a close, and with it confirmation that Heaven & Hell are back and playing better than ever. After an evening of almost two hours of power and majesty from the riff masters themselves, the crowd dissipated into the cold Newcastle air knowing that they had witnessed a truly memorable performance by one of the all time great line-up’s in Hard Rock history.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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