Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Heaven Than Hell

Last night we got to see Heaven and Hell, i.e the Dio version of Black Sabbath, at the Warfield in SF.

I pretty much lucked into finding out about this show. Guitar Center had a sale over the weekend and I had one guitar cable I've been whining about for years. So I decided to take advantage of the sale to replace it. On the way out, I always look at the flyers near the door and the one for Heaven and Hell caught my eye. Given that I haven't played my electric in over a year before this weekend, and I hadn't been to a Guitar Center in longer than that, it was very fortuitous.

The show was the next day, so I rushed home, expecting it to be sold out. Luckily for me, Heaven and Hell doesn't sell as well as Black Sabbath. This meant that not only were they playing a smaller venue, but that they still had good seats available.

The show itself was amazing, from the opening strains of E5150/Mob Rules to the ending of Neon Knights. For me the high points were Falling of the Edge of the World and Die Young, near the end of the set, but even the songs off their new album, The Devil You Know, and the slightly older songs from the under appreciated Dehumanizer were really good. They also had the obligatory solo sections for drum and guitar and some jamming and a sing along on Heaven and Hell.

It was the Mob Rules era lineup - Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice - and none of them have lost any of their chops. This is particularly amazing since Dio is 67, just 2 years younger than my mum. He was looking a little old running around, but he still has the pipes. Geezer was also looking, well, like a geezer but Tony Iommi is amazing - he doesn't look like he has changed in 20+ years.

Overall, I'm still amazed and thrilled that I got to see this band in a smaller venue. I don't do arena shows any more, so this might be the only chance I get to see them, and this is probably the closest I will every get to any of Black Sabbath. I will have to keep my eye on the Warfield to see who else comes through there.

The opening act was Coheed and Cambria. I'd heard their name somewhere before, but never heard any of their music. They did a good set, without a lot of stage banter. I assume this was because they were trying to fit as much as possible in their shorter set. Live rock shows aren't the best place to judge new music, due to the usually terrible sound mix and loudness, but they seemed to have some possibly interesting songs. The high point of their show for me was a nice cover of Iron Maiden's The Trooper. The only down side of their set was their lighting - they had a set of floor spotlights that were nicely set to point directly at the balcony, making it impossible to actually look at the band for a good portion of their set.

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