Live At Radio City Music Hall

Heaven & Hell

“I will fight anyone to the death, if they say ANYONE besides Sabbath invented heavy metal.” These bold words are spoken by a rabid Black Sabbath fan outside Radio City Music Hall in New York City before Heaven and Hell’s performance in early 2007. 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. Then again, Heaven & Hell was an entirely different beast than Black Sabbath. The riffs were a tad bit more thought-out and the voice of Ronnie James Dio brought in a different tone of darkness. Orginally issued on DVD, Live From Radio City Music Hall shows that Heaven & Hell, as an extension of Black Sabbath, were as viable and popular as the orgnal Sabbath. Reissued on Blu-ray, the disc includes a "new" bonus feature previously unavailable: The Wisdom of Dio.

Heaven and Hell was the working name of the group that included 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 went 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. For legal reason,s the Black Sabbath moniker could no longer be used without Ozzy, 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.

Recorded at New York City’s renown Radio City Music Hall, the Blu-ray captures the very first performance of the 2007 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. There are lots of great camera angles and oodles of moody lighting. The 5.1 mix thumps, which is what heavy metal is all about anyway. The set includes just about everything you would want to hear. Kudos to them for not trying to include songs that featured other singers from the Sabbath clan or any of the various projects that Dio has been involved with. This is 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.

But really...Ronnie James Dio is the centerpiece. One marvels at how much voice came out this five-foot tall man in his mid 60s. “The Devil Cried” reaches a pinnacle on a note that only Dio could only hit. You can just feel the “Magic” as the singer 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 it had been since these guys had played together live; they were just that good.

In addtion to Thw Wisdom of Dio, other special features include “Heaven And Hell Road Movie,” primarily comprising 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. “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. 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, and. I hope you do as well. Afterall, it's Junkman approved! \m/

~ Junkman

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