Describing this concert as one of the most important events in Heavy Metal history would be as dead on true a statement as any Metal head could hope to utter. The "reunion" of the Black Sabbath lineup that featured Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Vinny Appice and Ronnie James Dio would be nothing less than historic in nature. When the sale of the tickets was announced they ended up selling out in about a half an hour and this was largely due to large response that the Internet pre-sale gained. Personally I find those a little unfair to the mass public but bands seem to be insistent on doing them. It was not long after all the tickets were gone that it was announced that the performance at New York's famous Radio City Music Hall on March 30th would be recorded for release on DVD by the end of the summer on Rhino Entertainment. Now as far as Black Sabbath is concerned we all know that the Ozzy material is as legendary as it can be and pretty close to being the book by which the genre would be written on for decades to come. Yet when Osbourne was no longer part of the equation and they had the arrival of Dio, the course of the band would not go quietly into that good night but instead be changed for the best. They were still incredibly heavy, but the music took on a more sinister and darker tone and was clearly in gear with the other Metal that was popular at the time. Dio's input on the albums Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules gave a new life to the founding fathers of Metal and with the drumming of Vinny Appice, they had that much more power in driving their point home. The original reason for the reunion was the fact that Dio would work on new music with Iommi for a sound collection of the music they did together on the two early albums along with Dehumanizer and Live Evil. It seemed to make perfect sense to all parties that the best way to celebrate the new and legacy material would be with a comprehensive tour around the world. The show at Radio City Music Hall would only find the legends appearing and no opener would be there to either enjoy or suffer through. This was "The Dio Years" in living color right before your very eyes.
Read on for Ken Pierce's full show review!
Walking into RCMH tonight would be like going back in time for many people and I am included in this thought as well. It was a veritable "who's who" of musicians, Metal fans and people that you remembered going to concerts with back in the old days. I felt that this made for a lot of positive and energetic reaction among the audience attendees and this all transferred up to the guys as they hit the stage. They opened with the taped track of "E5150" and then crunched into "After All The Dead" - and as soon as you heard Mr. Tony Iommi in this acoustically perfect concert hall you were reminded of why he started a generation of axe slingers who raise the banner high for Metal guitar every night themselves. His sound is truly like no other. Speaking of being like no other, when Dio first appeared onstage the amount of raised up horns from the crowd was uncountable and even from far away you could tell that he enjoyed this display. He does maintain to be the first Metal person to do this onstage after all. His vocals were on point for most of the night but I felt the first number or two were not as powerful as I know he can handle. It might be he was adjusting or did not hear his monitor. Since I never bought Dehumanizer when it came out I have to admit that I was there more for the songs that I knew and loved for so many years. I'm proud to report that the band would be in terrific form and deliver my own and everyone else's favorites from this time period. As you might expect, there would be no Ozzy era material performed tonight and while some of these songs are people's absolute favorites – I don't think anyone missed them this evening. Geezer would be thundering on the bass and never speak, nor would Iommi and this left the master of ceremonies duties solely in the hands of Ronnie. He made limited small talk with the audience and made sure to slap the hands that were outstretched to him from the front rows as often as possible. He spoke of the old songs and the new ones that were soon to be available on the CD The Dio Years (it was coming out the Tuesday after this show). Tonight I would be all the way up on the third mezzanine and deeply entrenched amid screaming diehards. The impossibility of getting tickets for this show had many of my friends sitting all over the venue and not many of us together. Despite this, I found myself enthralled by the show and like many around me was singing or playing air guitar and drums for every song. The visual vantage point had most of us sitting down except for the chance to offer ovations at the end of the songs. A select few decided to remain standing up until asked to move and to remind those folks about a simple fact - the band cannot see us when we are up too high so sit down and don't ruin it for anyone else.
As far as the set list for tonight I felt that they got to every song that I wanted to hear except for one of my favorites from Mob Rules which is "Turn Up The Night". It was a minor annoyance to me at best because everything else was so outstanding. Other numbers of note from the years gone by were "Children Of The Sea" and of course "The Sign Of The Southern Cross". I felt that the new songs played out well in the live sense and are totally along the lines of how the band sounded when this line up first recorded. We got to enjoy two of them tonight and that surprised me as we had heard that the New York show would be the longest since no opening band was present. We would find out days later that this unfortunate cut in set time was due to a little bit of Union issues but in the end the show was still about two hours in length. Definitely worth the money with this one and we even were able to enjoy a drum solo by Vinny as well as a brief guitar intro by Tony. As it ended the applause and yells seemed to be able to shatter the walls that were around us and the show of support from all ages of Metal heads proved ever clearer that this genre was still as vibrant as so many of us have believed for so long despite the critics. Don't listen to fools, the Metal Mob Rules.
Photo Notes: Alright, so there was no ability for me to take any photos for this show given its scope and media magnitude but fear not because the entire event is going to be in your own living rooms soon enough when the DVD is released. Make sure you grab a copy of that so you can feel as though you were part of history yourself.
After All (The Dead)
The Mob Rules
Children Of The Sea
The Sign Of The Southern Cross
The Devil Cried
Vinny Appice solo
Falling Off The Edge Of The World
Shadow Of The Wind
Tony Iommi solo
Heaven And Hell
Lonely Is The World - encore
Neon Knights - encore