Heaven & Hell | Live From Radio City Music Hall 2007 – DVD Review

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“I will fight anyone to the death, if they say ANYONE besides Sabbath
invented heavy metal.” These bold words are spoken by a Black Sabbath/
fan outside Radio City Music Hall in New York City before Heaven and Hell’s
performance in early 2007. This rabid fan is included as one of the “special
features” on the DVD of this particular show currently available from
Rhino Home Video. Bold words, indeed. But, judging from the passion of their
fans, and their performances and product both past and present, this praise
for Black Sabbath could also be construed as either an understatement, or fodder
for more arguments on who was the “inventor” of the genre of rock
known as “Heavy Metal.” Either way, they are one of the cornerstones
of the metal scene, and, as Live From Radio City Music Hall 2007
shows, still a viable commodity and a band people are excited to see in concert.

Heaven and Hell is the working name title of the group that includes Black
Sabbath founding members, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler. Ronnie
James Dio — who took over lead vocals for a couple of wonderful albums
after original Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne was fired in the late 70s —
rejoined to record a few new numbers added to The Dio Years,
a compilation released in early 2007. Apparently, the collaboration worked out
great, and the reunited band decided to tour in support of the record. Original
Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was unavailable, so Vinnie Appice, another former
Sabbath drummer, was enlisted to pound out the tubs for the tour. Due to legal
reasons, (Thanks Ozzy and Sharon) the Black Sabbath moniker could not be used,
so the group opted to call themselves Heaven and Hell, the name of the first
Sabbath record featuring one Mr. Dio. OK, history lesson over — now let
me tell you about a great DVD.

Once again, recorded this past spring at New York City’s renown Radio
City Music Hall, the DVD captures the very first performance of the tour. The
excitement, the fans, the location, the production, and especially the band’s
confidence, are all well represented here. The performance, as you can imagine,
is as heavy as it gets. The DVD is shot with a few great camera angles and moody
lighting. The sound kept my stereo speakers thumping, which is what heavy metal
is all about anyway.

The set includes just about everything that you would want to hear from this
version of the band. Kudos to them for not trying to include songs that featured
other singers who have been apart of the Sabbath Clan, or any of the various
projects that Dio has been involved with. This straight-to-the-point Black Sabbath
Mach II. “The Mob Rules” gets the crowd jumping and Iommi’s
trademark guitar riffs and Butler’s thundering bass set the tone for what’s
to come. My favorite number, the bass-driven “Lady Evil,” brought
me back to a time when you could hear that song blasting out of my custom van
I owned in the early 80s. Appice really beefed up the drums for this tour. His
kit is HUGE ! He says during one of the many interviews included that he had
used some of the late Cozy Powell’s drums for the tour. Appice really
drives this band to a new level. His influence shows throughout the performance.

Ronnie James Dio is truly the centerpiece of this DVD. One marvels at how much
voice comes out of this five-foot tall man in his mid 60s. “The Devil
Cried” reaches a pinnacle on a note that only Dio can hit. You can just
feel the “Magic” as Dio exclaims at one point. “Neon Knights,”
the closing number, pulls out all the stops and rocks at a feverish pace, leaving
the crowd and band completely charged. You really do forget how long its been
since these guys have played together live; they are just that good.

As is the case with this and most DVDs these days, there are lots of “special
features” included. The “Heaven And Hell Road Movie” is packed
with backstage interviews with band members, crew members and fans. It’s
an interesting look at life on the road with these veterans of the scene. “Hail
The Gods Of Metal” does exactly that as fans of Black Sabbath/Heaven and
Hell reap praise. The history of the band and its influence is also explored
here.

“Meet The Mob” features shots and interviews of fans outside of
Radio City Music Hall expressing their wishes for the upcoming show. It’s always
fun to watch Metal Heads before and after concerts get completely pumped up.
Being one them, I often remind myself to be aware, that these days, my extreme
reaction could and HAS been captured on DVD; therefore rendering me helpless
to any kind of scrutiny the general public may reap upon it. In other words,
try not to get caught on video drunkenly singing the words of your favorite
metal song.

Finally, there is a short look into the bowels of Radio City Music Hall itself.
Opened in 1932, this monumental showcase is looked at virtually from the ground
up. A great behind the scenes of what it takes to put on a show, and what this
theater has to offer, in terms of stage, lights and sound. I really enjoyed
Live From Radio City Music Hall 2007, and. I hope you do as
well. Afterall, it’s Junkman approved! \m/

~ Junkman


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