Heaven & Hell with Coheed and Cambria at Bank of America Pavilion in Boston MA (Friday, August 28, 2009)
The prevailing wisdom is that rock is a young man's game, that the piss and vinegar and vitality of rock performers exponentially decreases as the number of times they've lapped the sun increases. I used to cautiously subscribe to this theory, but can no longer believe in it as an absolute theorem. Any lingering doubts that exceptions to the rule don't exist were thoroughly extinguished in a rain of hellfire and brimstone courtesy of Heaven & Hell (more widely known as Black Sabbath until Sharon Osbourne got sue-happy), on their penultimate stop of the 'The Devil You Know' tour. Much like the Stooges tour a couple of years back, where the songs were restricted to ones that Ron Asheton (RIP) played guitar on, the material for this tour was limited to the recordings made when Ronnie James Dio fronted the band, post-Ozzy. So, plenty of stuff off of _Heaven and Hell_ and Dehumanizer, nothing off Master of Reality or Paranoid. Unlike the Stooges, however, the recent record of which the tour was named is actually pretty decent; cut-out new copies of _The Weirdness_ can be had for a penny via Amazon.
It would have been cool to hear "Children of the Grave" or "NIB" but the band just cut a massive swath through the Dio-oriented material (and drummer Vinny Appice was the drummer for the newest record, as well as for Mob Rules and Dehumanizer, so it wasn't like there was a bunch of hired guns alongside Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi) with the clear standouts being "Falling Off The Edge Of The World," "Die Young" and especially "I" which was fairly incredible. Alongside the great vocal chorus, I was utterly stunned at how damned good Dio's voice sounded. Christ, the guy is 67, three years younger than my mom, and he's got 100% of the range he had twenty years ago. I've never seen nor heard anything like it; he must have made a deal with Beelzebub to keep his larynx so fresh. Any discussion of great metal vocalists has to start with Dio, Dickinson and Halford and while I've not seen Maiden recently, I can definitely state that Dio's high end and power are at a much greater level than Halford's (who is doing just fine himself, it's just that Ronnie is a freak of nature). With Iommi, molten riffage was never in question, and he laid it down expertly, especially on the doom-oriented "Follow The Tears" and long-time fan favorites "Heaven and Hell" and closer "Neon Knights." Ronnie introduced him as the greatest guitarist on the planet, and no one in attendance would offer any counter arguments. His shadow cast upon the music world is long, black and prodigious. Great to see a long-time band still functioning at a high level and not sunken down to the level of a nostalgia exercise.
Seattle lucked out for this tour; they got to see Neurosis as the opener. The rest of us save the final date got prog-metal/hair farmers Coheed and Cambria. I guess these guys are pretty popular with the younger set (an eight-pack of teens were sporting newly purchased tour t shirts as they headed towards their seats) and they tipped their cap to who came before via a cover of "The Trooper." I'd not seen any flourishes which would validate the 'prog' tag I'd seen laid down on them...it was fairly rote melodic metal, nothing too out of the ordinary. The last song just got a bit silly though, with both talk box and theremin trotted out during the ~eight minute opus finale.
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