Heaven and Hell - November 10, 2007 - Wembly Arena - London
By: Ken McGrath
They may have been only together on and off for brief periods and Ozzy Osbourne is certainly the more well known vocalist for Black Sabbath, but this unholy (re)union of Dio, Iommi, Butler and Appice has the fans out in droves. So while Wembley Arena might not be sold out tonight it is comfortably full, with solo career Dio t-shirts well out weighing all others, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind who the main attraction here is. A quick glance at the merch on the way in reveals it all to be utter shite and you’re praying that they’ve got more quality control when it comes to deliver the songs.
All worries are quickly pushed aside as the diminutive frontman steps on stage. He may be small in stature but he’s been blessed with some of the greatest lungs in the music world and by fuck does he still know how to use them. Of unknown age Dio’s brief rambling tales punctuate the set as he commands the stage with all the energy of someone in their early twenties. This is a man who clearly loves metal and to watch him at work is astonishing, belting his way through not necessarily classic but still excellent, “The Mob Rules,” “Sign Of The Southern Cross” and “Voodoo.” Flanked by Butler and Iommi the riffs are delivered straight from the oven, crunchy and fresh. Appice’s no slouch either. Every beat and crash is tight and focused, the man sounding like he’s locked into his drum kit. You see, this is no mere nostalgia trip. This is metal of the highest order, timeless metal, which hasn’t aged in the slightest. It’s still dripping of doom and gloom and epic after all these years.
Granted most of the tunes themselves may not be as famous as “Paranoid” or “Iron Man” but when they’re taking off through “Falling Off The Edge Of The World” and “Shadow Of The Wind,” which features the trees on the backdrop rustling. Genius stuff. Rock like it’s meant to be performed, with passion and in front of a hardcore audience who are there to enjoy themselves to the full. The sing-a-long to the riff for an extended “Heaven & Hell” is the sort of thing you just shouldn’t hear outside of an Iron Maiden concert, while “Neon Knights” almost manages to reach the same level off devotion.
Even the two new songs played are greeted enthusiastically. Unknown to most people here they still flow smoothly in the set. Iommi’s guitar playing proving he still knows his way around a monumental riff (as if we needed proof), Dio, decked out in a shirt that looks like it’s got the legs from flares stitched on sleeves, narrating, sneering and singing like he could raise the dead.
Rumours of a full-length of brand new material seem much more believable after hearing these. You couldn’t ask for better. Call it Dio with Sabbath, call it Heaven & Hell, call it one of the best shows of the year. Simply fucking amazing. The riff to “Heaven & Hell” rings out the whole way back to the Tube station. Long may this continue.