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Heaven and Hell - Revelations

Sears Center - Hoffman Estates, IL, United States - September 22, 2007

by Jackie Lee King

Heaven and Hell - Toni IommiHeaven and Hell, previously known as Black Sabbath, made a return to the stage by reprising the lineup they had back in 1980. The current personnel - Tony Iommi (Guitars), Geezer Butler (Bass), Ronnie James Dio (Vocals), Vinny Appice (Drums) - are touring in support of the new singles collection Black Sabbath: The Dio Years(2007).

The reincarnation of this lineup, who only played together for a couple years in the eighties, has amassed an impressive catalogue of rock anthems performed to a sold out show at the Sears Center just outside of Chicago. This is a show for fans of Dio's contributions to the band that dare not speak its name.

In order not to confuse audiences, it was better to have a new name. At the beginning of this reunion, Iommi (owner of the Black Sabbath name) and Dio decided to call the touring group Heaven and Hell, the title of the first Dio fronted Black Sabbath recording from 1980. The name Heaven and Hell is good expression of the rocky road that the band has taken over the years, with multiple band members leaving and returning into the fold, making it a good moniker for the band.

The two other full releases from the band featured in the show are Mob Rules (1981) and Dehuminizer (1992) with three new recorded songs; The Devil Cried, Shadow of the Wind and Ear in the Wall from the 2007 singles collection. One of the best rock anthems of all time, The Mob Rules, which is also on the soundtrack for the movie Heavy Metal (1981), starts off the show with a riotous bang.

Heaven and Hell's songs are the kind you listen to when you feel like God really hates you. Dio's storytelling vocals come across like an archangel, who's been cast out of heaven, warning the listener to beware of evil's torments. Some of these darker images come forth in the nihilistic songs I and Computer God that focus on the shortcomings of man and his place in the world around him.

Heaven and Hell - Ronnie James DioThe audience is banished to the dungeon set that has unearthly characters projected on the back wall. Gothic crosses and cemetery bars house stacks of Marshall Amps that pummel the ears of adoring fans. The light show is blinding and piercing at times, synced to the lyrics of pain that Dio operatically sings.

Dio's wild gestures appear like he is cursing the audience in sign language, rousing metal heads to response to his taunting. The 'horns', an ancient cult gesture that he made popular back in the day, flashes back and forth from stage to audience.

The rest of the band unveils their own sinful existence throughout the show with deadly force. Appice is wrathful with his drums, Butler lustfully plucks his bass, and Iommi proudly displays his guitar skills. By the end of the night everyone in the audience is guilty of one sin or another. Standing at the gates of Heaven we collectively looked down and joined our bothers and sisters in Hell.


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