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Concert Review: Heaven & Hell – Winnipeg, MB, March 18, 2007

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The last time Black Sabbath played Winnipeg was 1971. Their 1983 show was canceled due to a conflict with the Shrine Circus. Now, almost three decades from their peak with Ozzy Osbourne, I wondered how many people would show up to see the Dio-era Sabbath, now renamed Heaven & Hell. When Dio recorded two albums with Sabbath, Heaven & Hell (1980) and The Mob Rules (1981), he easily breathed desperately needed life into the floundering metal band, the founding band in metal. Dio left on bitter terms with the band and was often quoted as citing the credits on the 1982 live album, Live Evil, which named him as Ronnie Dio, rather than as Ronnie James Dio.

Opening act Down were terrible and quite forgettable, and had no memorable songs. Still, quite a few people in the audience wore Down t-shirts. Down are essentially a "super group" comprised of former members of Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, and Superjoint Ritual. Their three albums are NOLA (1995), Down II (2001) and Down III (2007.) Singer Phil Anselmo had vocal problems and referred to them throughout the set, but the fans on the floor didn't seem to mind at all. I have read other fan reviews of the show and the Down fans thought Heaven & Hell and Megadeth were dreadfully boring while Down ruled!

Megadeth were surprisingly good. Compared to Down, Dave Mustaine and company sounded like a classic rock group. They had a clearer sound and their songs have the right balance of melody and aggression and for the most part, are memorable. Highlights for me included "Wake Up Dead," "Symphony of Destruction." and "Peace Sells. " They are about to release their 11th studio album, United Abominations, and have sold over 20 million albums over their 25 year career. Joining Dave in the band were Canadians Glen (guitar) and Shawn Drover (drums) and bassist James Lomenzo (White Lion.) If Dave had a dollar for every line-up change in the band's history, he'd be richer than he is already. I was quite impressed with this version of Megadeth and I would go see them again.

Heaven & Hell. There's some great material from the Dio years, but so much of the other songs sound alike, including the new songs. Instead of opening with a new track or an old favorite, they opened with "After All (The Dead)," the second track from the third Dio Sabbath album, 1992's Dehumanizer. Honestly, the three songs from Dehumanizer, including "I" and "Computer God," are second rate material. The three new tracks, "Ear In the Wall," "The Devil Cried," and "Shadow of the Wind," also failed to get the crowd going.

Most bands play more than one song in their encores, but these guys only offered up "Neon Knight" which was a surprise and a disappointment. This could very well be the first and last time Heaven & Hell tour, as Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler plan to record and tour with Ozzy Osbourne next year, along with original drummer Bill Ward, as Black Sabbath.

I was hoping that guitarist Tony Iommi would say something, but the only one who addressed the crowd was the man with the mike, the diminutive Dio. I was a bit surprised by how close to the studio albums Geezer Butler's bass guitar was. Butler and Iommi didn't move around the stage, leaving Dio as the focal point. Vinnie Appice is a well-known drummer, however, I was really disappointed with his drum solo. It was one of the most boring, unimaginative solos that I've ever seen. The stage featured gothic brick gates and were mercifully not in excess and could not be ridiculed as something out of Spinal Tap. Dio's vocals were in fine form and he seemed to be having a fun time. I don't know if the band picked up on the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd, due to the less than exciting set list.

The most effective songs for me were the rousing "Mob Rules," "Children Of The Sea," "Lady Evil," "Sign Of The Southern Cross," "Die Young," "Heaven & Hell," and "Neon Knights." They are on tour in support of the new compilation album, Black Sabbath: The Dio Years and played everything from that album save for "Lonely Is The Word," "Turn Up The Night," "Falling Off The Edge Of The World," and "TV Crimes. " The show would have been better if they played a longer encore, left out some of the weaker songs in favour of "Country Girl," "Falling Off The Edge Of The World," and "Turn Up The Night. " The crowd had a lot of teens and twenty-somethings and there was a lack of fans over the age of 40.

Heaven & Hell: Ronnie James Dio – Vocals, Tony Iommi – Guitar, Geezer Butler – Bass, Vinny Appice – Drums, Scott Warren – Keyboards

After All (The Dead)
Mob Rules
Children of the Sea
Lady Evil
Ear in the Wall
Sign of the Southern Cross
The Devil Cried
Computer God
Shadow of the Wind
Die Young
Heaven and Hell
Neon Knights

1. Sleepwalker
2. Wake Up Dead
3. She Wolf
4. A Tout Le Monde
5. Washington Is Next

6. Symphony of Destruction
7. Peace Sells/Mechanix
8. Hangar 18
9. Holy Wars (encore)

1. Lysergik Funeral Procession
2. Lifer
3. Hail The Leaf
4. New Orleans is a Dying Whore
5. Losing All
6. Bury Me In Smoke

"Black Sabbath: The Dio Years" track listing:
01. Neon Knights
02. Lady Evil
03. Heaven And Hell
04. Die Young
05. Lonely Is The Word
06. The Mob Rules
07. Turn Up The Night
08. Voodoo
09. Falling Off The Edge Of The World
10. After All (The Dead)
11. TV Crimes
12. I
13. Children Of The Sea – Live
14. The Devil Cried*
15. Shadow Of The Wind*
16. Ear In The Wall*
* Newly recorded tracks

Audience: 7,500.

My rating for this show is 3/5.

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About Triniman

Almost weekly, Triniman catches new movies, and adds one or two CDs to his collection. Due to time constraints, he blogs about only 5% of the CDs, books and DVDs that he purchases. Holed up in the geographic centre of North America, the cultural mecca of Canada, and the sunniest city north of the 49th, Winnipeg, Triniman blogs a bit when he's not swatting mosquitoes, shoveling snow or golfing.
  • I was on the fence, but you’ve convinced me to give this concert a pass. I saw Ozzy w/Sabbath a few years back at Ozzfest, so I’ll wait for them next year.

  • I don’t any regrets that I attended but overall, it was a disappointment.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Considering how old they are, the bootleg I heard sounded pretty damn good. I can agree that the set list was rather dull but I think they may have been limited by the Ozzy camp and Megadeth’s set looked rather boring as well.To say that any material from Dehumanizer is second rate comes across as ignorant,again, when they are considerably old for the metal game. Actually, name a band that is at that same age that can rock like them?? I know you can’t…

    I personally would like to see the Gods of Metal line-up over here anyday than that useless band “Down”.

    Click Here

  • The Cream reunion DVD has some pretty great moments from some old-ish geezers who might’ve had something to do with the development of metal.

  • Speaking of Cream, I saw Eric Clapton a few days ago,last week Wednesday. Needless to say, Clapton was stunning on guitar, the best guitarist who I have had the pleasure of seeing. And that’s not meant to demean anyone else.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Though I can agree that Cream’s DVD was rather good for a Bunch O’Old Dudes, I highly doubt that they influenced Black Sabbath in any way. AND, I’m pretty sure that the current line-up for Heaven & Hell would probably blow the doors off of that train. Toni Iommi hardly gets the credit he deserves as a ripping axeman.

    Once and for all, Dehumanizer was the best reunion style CD that Black Sabbath has offered up in over a decade! Probably as close as you could get to Mob Rules without sounding pretentious and still better than any reincarnation that that sloppy f*ck Ozzy ever put together.

    Personally, I don’t believe that album got the recognition it deserves because they didn’t shove it down people’s throats like f*ckhead Ozzy does with all of his boring shite!!

    *Off My Soapbox*

  • “I highly doubt that they influenced Black Sabbath in any way.”

    Really? From a 2001 interview, Geezer Butler “The one bass player that influenced me was Jack Bruce from Cream.”

  • i wouldn’t let this review stop you from seeing the Dio Sabbath. i don’t mean that triniman is wrong, it’s just that it’s worth seeing Dio belt this stuff out live.

  • I don’t know. I saw him a few years back between Maiden and Motorhead, and was very underwhelmed by RJD.

  • hmmm, maybe he just hasn’t aged well. i mean, i saw him on the Heaven & Hell tour…which certainly was a long time ago.

  • I had no problem with Dio’s vocal performance. It’s the choice of material that made the show less exciting that it could have been.

    I have no regrets that I attended the show. If you a fan of Black Sabbath, how could you not go? And at $60, it was easily half the price of most shows that play at the MTS Centre and was one quarter the price of seeing The Who and Crosby Stills Nash and Young.

  • aaron

    3 years later and seeing down once since then, i say you still have to have your face crushed in for what oyu wrote about them. down is the furthest from generic and for a band who released 1 album in 90s and played 12 shows, selling 1 million is amazing. the band is unique southern blues metal from new orleans. phil had flu and still sounded better then the other two bands.