Ronnie James Dio and Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell
The Greek Theatre – 08/11/09

By Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen

Heaven and Hell, which includes former members of Black Sabbath plus Ronnie James Dio, performed at The Greek Theatre on Tuesday, August 11th. They are calling it the “Bible Black Tour” in support of their latest album “The Devil You Know.” Vinnie Appice’s drum set encircled him and he used every piece. Bass player Geezer Butler mesmerized me. He played pick-less the entire night, and his fingers moved so fast I could hardly keep up, and all I was doing was watching. Guitarist Tony Iommi shined as he picked away fluidly and effortless. And Dio himself belted out powerful vocals and notes that would put most singers half his age to shame.

The lights went dim and the crowd cheered. The ominous “E5150” played and drummer Vinny Appice was the first to hit the stage, followed by Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi. Ronnie James Dio entered from the back and they ripped into “The Mob Rules.” Two large dragons glowed from both sides of the stage, and a metal gate topped with claws holding crystal balls expanded from Vinny’s drum set. It looked like they were performing in front of a medieval castle.

After “Mob Rules,” they played “Children of the Sea” as the screen in the middle of the stage showed giant cartoon-ish characters marching with crosses. Geezer took the stage, lights shining upon him, for the intro of “I.” The band joined in, and the crowed rocked and sang “III, IIIII, IIIIIII” along with Ronnie James. From there, they played “Bible Black,” which is the first single off their latest CD, and then on to “Time Machine” from “Dehumanizer.”

After “Time Machine,” Vinny Appice drum soloed, and played every single inch of his enormous kit, standing, rotating and reaching to every piece. Then, seamlessly, he broke into “Fear” off the new album. During “Falling Off the Edge of the World,” the middle screen was covered in falling tears for most of the song, which added to the effect. Tony Iommi started soloing before “Die Young,” and again, everyone shouted along with the chorus.

Now, it was time for the most famous Heaven and Hell song of all, “Heaven and Hell!” This is what I remember most from the Ozzfest tour that Black Sabbath headlined. (I actually went on four entire Ozzfest tours as a vendor from 1997 – 2000.) Night after night the crowd would unite and sing “wooaa oohhh ohhh ohhh, wooaa ohh ohh ohh ohh ohh ohh ohh.” It felt magical. (If you know this song, you will get it.) At The Greek, they played an extended version of “Heaven and Hell” which included an amazing instrumental. After the last “woa,” Heaven and Hell left the stage, returning momentarily for the final encore. They began the encore with “Country Girl,” and then broke into the finale of the night, “Neon Nights!”

Overall, Heaven and Hell was amazing. However, the sound at The Greek seemed a bit mild. It was surprising and interesting that the conversations around me seemed louder than the band onstage. Also, when I left, there was no ringing in my ears. That’s no fault of Heaven and Hell though. They definitely did their part to give us all a good show. Many credits and kudos go out to Ronnie. It’s hard to believe that he is 67 years old, and started his first band in 1957, over 40 years ago. He runs around the stage and pounds out vocals like he’s 20! And, his personality shines through as well. Throughout the night, he introduced each song and even gave us a little background info. Heaven and Hell’s performance was dark, yet heavy and powerful. I am glad I was able to spend the evening rocking out with them.

Watch the full concert on YouTube here.