Saw HEAVEN AND HELL on Tuesday at the Greek Theater in Los Feliz. The same night SUNN O))) was playing in Eagle Rock. It’s reported that LA east of Sunset sank nearer to sea level from the weight of one night’s power chords.
I went to the show with my old buddy/new metal buddy Kelly and my old buddy/old metal buddy Mike. Kelly has a taste for the ethanol, and Mike doesn’t drink. I appropriately sat between them, Mike eating a veggie burger and me eating the greatest calorie per dollar combo on the Greek’s menu (chili fries for $5.00) while splitting a carafe of wine (how weird is that) with Kelly. I had a coke too. Chili fries, coke and red wine, after no dinner and an afternoon of office black coffee. Happy to report I still have the stomach of the Goat of Mendes. Mike admitted to blasting the album Heaven and Hell from a radio on the handlebars of his BMX bike in the early ‘80’s. We all agreed that the innocence of pre-hair metal / pre-grunge metal is gone forever.
We missed all opening bands b/c of a 30 minute wait to buy just one ticket on account of idiots “upgrading” tickets to impress their girlfriends. If you are buying a ticket the day of the show, just take what you can get and move on. It’s a safe bet the people in line behind you either need a drink or a bathroom—so get on with it fuckers. Any residual sexual benefit derived from having a better seat is offset by your studying the seating chart for 10 minutes. That’s not Metal! You would be better off in the grass section rolling around with your significant other on empty beer cups. Nobody ever got any action by being closer to Ronnie James Dio. In fact, proximity to Dio may have the opposite effect, unless your thing is dating guys who still write computer programs in Fortran but are too dumb to like King Crimson.
Anyway, onto the main event, Black Sabbath (I mean Heaven and Hell) took the stage to the computer gibberish they always play. They launched into "Mob Rules", which went down very well, then "Children of the Sea." Then they drove home the point that they have done two full albums with Dio aside from Mob Rules and Heaven and Hell. The middle of the set dragged a little with too many songs from Dehumanizer and the new disc, which would have been fine except they played a fairly short set. Don’t get me wrong—I like the new album. It’s got plenty of great riffs and playing. Black Sabbath actually seems to be getting slower and more deliberate, and I don’t think it’s because they are old. They’re just making their point. And it’s hard to play slow and stay in time in case you haven’t tried it.
I wouldn’t have minded all the new songs so much in a smaller setting. But at the Greek, there are noise restrictions so I couldn’t drown my brain in the Iommi/Butler mix. The sort of tinny sound we got up in the cheap seats demands a greatest hits set all the way through. Speaking of Geezer, he still rocks the bass like Cliff Burton’s dad even on the slow songs. Iommi’s sound was impeccable as usual. The perfect mix of distortion and clear tone. Though Kelly pointed out there was someone off stage playing rhythm during the solos, or else they had a tape. Vinnie Appice knew what he had to do and did it. Dio looked more lively than at last summer’s Mortis-like performance on “Monsters of Metal”. His voice was clear, he unrepentantly donned a sparkly hippy shirt, and proved as always to be the consummate gentleman of metal.
The show of course ended with a long "Heaven and Hell" and an encore of "Neon Knights." Despite the decibel limit, there was something really cool about the entire crowd chanting the melody line of "Heaven and Hell" in LA’s mini Yosemite. And a guy in front of us head banged for the entire set—he had no friends and he didn’t care. I want to be his friend now. It was a good show if a little perfunctory. I was looking forward to burying my brain in the type of loud bass riffing and feedback that was going on over in Eagle Rock. I’ll just have to listen to Live Evil for that I guess. If you don’t have that Sabbath live set from Dio Era 1, get it now. Black Sabbath on a weeknight, a nice setting, some wine, back to work. Yep, getting older.