Heaven and Hell: Live in Helsinki

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Ice Hall


10.06 2006



There are always lots of speculations and rumors flying in the music world and sometimes those turn out to be true. After fifteen years, the classic line up of Black Sabbath: Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice, decided to put their pieces together and do a world tour under name Heaven and Hell. “The Dio years” collection was released prior the tour and it also included three brand new Black Sabb… I mean…Heaven and Hell tracks. Band kicked their world tour in U.S on last April and on early June they reached Finland and Helsinki.



Review and photos by Marko Syrjälä

To my surprise, the Helsinki show wasn’t sold out but I would say that there were about 5000 people there. As usual I managed to miss the opening act so let’s jump directly in to the “real thing”. The classic intro “E5150” started to hum from the speakers and the light systems went on little by little showing the massive stage composition which possibly was meant to be a some kind of church yard built of stones or something like that including gates and all kind of stuff what usually belongs on places like that. In the background there was a group of three screen windows which were showing the pictures of devils and angels = symbols of Heaven & Hell. In brief, the stage looked very good and decorous. Actually I haven’t seen such large stage systems used here in a while, at least not here in the old Ice Hall of Helsinki. In the end of intro Vinny Appice appeared behind his massive drum kit and everything was ready to go.

Tony Iommi walked to the stage and started immediately to play the opening riff of “Mob Rules”.  Ronnie and Geezer come up a few seconds later and the full gear was on. Right from the beginning it was clear that band sounded amazing, at least in the front of stage in the photo pit. “Children of the Sea” from the album “Heaven and Hell” was played next and crowd was really into it. At this point I have to admit once again that Ronnie James Dio is still a great front man in every aspect. Although it’s obvious that he can’t reach all the highest notes anymore, he was still singing like in the old days and his stage presence was really conclusive. Ronnie used his trademark “Devil Horns” and he was running across stage like a young man, he’s simply amazing guy.

“I” from album “Dehumanizer” was the third song on the set. As I slightly expected, people didn’t recognized it too well, it was the same thing that happened in Swedenrock a few days earlier. Many people before and after the show criticized: “why they are doing songs from that album and why they are doing some new staff instead of classic material only” but I would say that it’s great that band are playing songs from it’s entire career including some newer stuff also. Besides, “Dehumanizer” is a great album. For some reason it’s very underrated which is a shame. In my ears “I” sounded fantastic and so did next track; “Sign of the Southern Cross” which seemed to be a true crowd favorite here.  During the years I have witnessed Dio playing live as a solo artist more than ten times and he always has a “habit” to play some tracks from his former bands Rainbow and Black Sabbath. At his point of show, the songs what Heaven & Hell had played so far, I had heard all of them at least once played by Dio but the next three songs were something what I had never heard live before: “Voodoo”, “Falling of the Edge of the World” and another “Dehumanizer” track  “Computer God”. Perhaps that “trilogy” was a high point of the show for me and also band seemed really enjoy playing them.

Tony Iommi played a long guitar solo which was like… dump, to be honest. There’s no doubt that Tony is a great guitarist, he’s the riff master of all time, but he has not much to say in his solo. It must be said looked much more relaxed now compared to shows when he’s been on stage with Ozzy under the Black Sabbath title. He was doing his walking both backward and forward like always but his face which commonly is very acute was now smiling and he seemed to have fun on stage. Perhaps there’s a less pressure within this band or then its simply applicable diversity for him to play these forgotten and rarely played songs for a change instead of always doing “Paranoid” and “Iron Man. The same description would fit perfectly for bassist Geezer Butler also. His fingers still worked very quickly and he was head banging on his side of stage like on the good old days. 

New track “Shadow of the Wind” wasn’t in my cup of tea at all. In one chapter, it’s a boring song, and it should have replaced with “Devil Cried” which has even got such a lot radio airplay in Finland and is a way better song than this. Nothing more to say about that one, but it was definitely a low point of this otherwise great concert.

Band did a short break and Ronnie introduced band members before they hit into “Die Young” which was another highlight for many people there. It’s true that songs lyrics don’t fit too anymore, Ronnie singing is his late 60’s “Die Young”, but who really cares about things like that?
Vinnie did his long drum solo next. Well… some people seem to like it but to be honest it caused a small-scale invasion towards bar. There was actually nothing wrong with solo. He played some
cool fills there and it was actually pretty much the same solo what heused to do with Dio in the past. Maybe he’s not the fastest of what ever drummer in the world but he’s a really good one and fits perfectly in this band. Not so surprisingly set closer “Heaven & Hell” was played next. Ronnie did his usual “evil singing” part with red spotlight and it looked really cool although he has done the same thing with Dio for years. The fact that this concert was something different compared to regular Dio or Ozzy era Sabbath gig. It’s hard to explain but in a way there was more “magic” in the air there? “Heaven and Hell” lasted something like 15 minutes and after a small break band returned on stage and did first and the only encore “Neon Knights”.

The show was over and it’s time to make a little summary of it. It was clear that this gig was about nostalgia but it didn’t feel like that in the most of the part. Guys on stage were playing their hearts out, they were hungry and they seem to really enjoy about what they were doing. That’s something what you usually see on these re-union gigs nowadays. Band was playing tightly, stage looked great and engineering was working well. There aren’t too many negative things here to say but I’m going to still mention one here; the show was quite short. Band did only 11 songs there which are five songs less than what they did on the beginning of this tour in U.S. Despite that the whole experience was really enjoyable and I really hope that band will change their minds and will continue working together after this tour is over, whenever it will be over, and do some new music together as well?
















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