Artist: Heaven & Hell
Title: “Live At Radio City Music Hall” [Blu-ray]
Label: Rhino Entertainment
Release Date: 5/13/2011
Genre: Heavy Metal
Sigh. It’s really the only way that I can start a revisit to this amazing concert film which is now not only available on Blu-ray format but also now comes care of Eagle Vision (the video aspect of Eagle Rock Entertainment). The original release came out in 2007 on Rhino Entertainment and was a blockbuster based on its capture of a reunited “Black Sabbath Mark II” lineup that now was touring under the moniker of Heaven And Hell. When Ronnie James Dio passed away in May of 2010 the Metal Realm was shattered by the news and as with all personalities of note, such an event would find both final and unreleased material being delivered to the fans in order to help them remember the joy and happiness the person lost had given them. “Live At Radio City 2007” was not released on Blu-ray format until the Eagle Vision release and since my thoughts about this amazing show have never changed I am re-presenting them for you below. I will then talk a little bit about the differences between this release and the standard edition DVD.
The reunion of the original Black Sabbath members at Ozzfest several years ago was nothing less than historic and of course led to a reunion tour and numerous festival appearances on its own. After it had completed there were many voices in the Metal community speaking aloud and wondering about that other important chapter in the bands history which was the post-Ozzy Mark II lineup referred to as “The Dio Years”. Answers would come in 2005 as those members of Black Sabbath Mark II reunited for a compilation entitled “Black Sabbath The Dio Years” and not only did the release present to us the cream of the crop from their albums together, but it also delivered three new songs that showed the Metal world that a fire was still burning in this particular creative furnace. Fortunately the special nature of the compilation led to a very limited touring run and the band would rename itself “Heaven And Hell” for the course of these shows. It was an obvious homage to the first Sabbath material with Dio on the microphone and to many was a much better idea than calling themselves Black Sabbath. One of the gigs that was done during this brief tour is presented in full on this DVD as the band took over the hallowed Radio City Music Hall and performed a stunning concert for over 8,000 people. The tickets for this event sold out within the hour and if you were a Metal fan and somehow sadly missed the boat on the actual gig, this film does its best to bring you into the venue for a closeup look at how it went down. I am proud to inform you all that I was one of the number inside Radio City and stood glued to my spot as I witnessed Heavy Metal history taking place as they performed together in this configuration for the first time in more than fifteen years. As a music video concert this works exceptionally well and delivers on all counts. The first and most important part of it all is how amazing that the band sounds together after such a long time. Tony Iommi is without question the father of Heavy Metal guitar riffs and Geezer the man who showed just how a bass should be handled for such music and then there is Ronnie James Dio. Dio is just under sixty five years of age during this performance and still showcases a set of lungs that make the younger generation of Metal singers cringe and cements the view in the eyes of his peers about how he is the true “Godfather Of Heavy Metal”. The set list performed is fantastic and covers not only the three albums that the band recorded with Dio (“Heaven And Hell”, “Mob Rules” and “Dehumanizer”) but also addresses the new material that was recorded for the compilation. For me the songs that I wanted to hear most came from the “Mob Rules” album because that was my own first go at this particular Sabbath incarnation with their debut together being a close second. Witnessing the show again in this fashion was fantastic because it also reminded most of the Metal legions out there about the bands “Dehumanizer” album, which was largely ignored based on the time of its release. A Metal album like this in 1992 stood little chance against the deluge of Grunge acts and hearing it’s content once again as the band tore up the stage it was clear that many of us missed out on something awesome. Speaking of the stage, this was something to behold as well and if the first your hearing about it comes via these words then please note that the whole background appeared to be some kind of Gothic church. Giant fences lined the stage and there were gated entrance ways and stained glass looking windows which were actually screens. It was dramatic but not overdone in any sense and worked perfectly for what these elder statesmen of the genre were looking to present to us.
The audio sonics of the show are nothing less than a controlled hurricane as the band rumbles through these far too long unheard tunes and the overall tightness of the unit makes the viewer feel that they had been doing this continually as opposed to only recently once again. Thanks to the glories of stage cameras and expert shooting even the seats in the back section get up close and personal with all the members of the band. Dio thanks everyone repeatedly and speaks to the crowd as if they were old friends. Has this genre ever had such a positive figure working in its behalf? I think not. Having attended the show I know that one number was omitted and I believe that it was “Ear In The Wall” which had to be cut due to the venue’s union curfew. It was a shame, but when it all boiled down to it, there was little disappointment found among all eight thousand present that evening. This show left the Metal legions with a sense of promise of things to come. Would the band do more touring and potentially work on even more material? Would we finally see remastered editions of these Dio-fronted Black Sabbath albums or would it all end after these few shows. The signs are good that all the positives discussed will be the case and if they do not, at least we have this amazing DVD and its audio companion to help us remember it forever. You might feel that this film and its audio should have been packaged together and yes I agree with you there but there is a super duper special edition that gives it to you in that configuration. If you wish to spend the extra money you can have it like that or be like the rest of us and make room for two additional items in your Metal library. The bonus features are pretty interesting as well and we find some interviews with Dio, Iommi and Geezer, but nothing from Appice. That surprised me, and I admit that while the commentary from these other legends is fantastic that it would have been nice to hear from the drummer about his return to this lineup. There is considerable talk about the construction of the bands stage which should appeal to many and about Radio City Music Hall. It is packaged in a standard clamshell case that slides into a cardboard sleeve but the artwork on evenly matched. However, I didn’t mind at all. It is without question that this DVD and the CD are purchase recommendations of the highest caliber.
After watching this at maximum volume once again I could not help but find a tear forming in the corner of my eye as I recalled the feeling from the day when I first heard the news about Ronnie’s passing after it had finished. This exciting concert gave Metal fans a sign of what was yet to come and the amazing potential that this rejuvenated lineup was going to deliver but alas the reunion would be all too short when it came down to it. Still, we did get this release and a few more before Ronnie had to leave us. The concert is presented the same, and all of the bonus features are as well with the exception of an additional segment called “The Wisdom Of Dio” and this bonus feature is a nice touch. This segment captures Ronnie just talking in various candid settings about his views on a wide variety of topics and its a wonderful reminder of just how interesting he was as a musician. The packaging on this Blu-ray edition is a little different as we don’t get the foil embossed sleeve around the plastic case and instead just get the blue shell case for the film. We do get a small booklet that has a few liner notes and this was not a part of the original release as that only gave you a single sheet of song titles and a photo.
PiercingMetal’s Memorial Thoughts On Dio can be read HERE.
1. E5150 (intro)
2. After All The Dead
3. The Mob Rules
4. Children Of The Sea
5. Lady Evil
7. The Sign Of The Southern Cross
9. The Devil Cried
10. Computer God
11. Falling Off The Edge Of The World
12. Shadow Of The Wind
13. Die Young
14. Heaven And Hell
15. Lonely Is The Word
16. Neon Knights
Official Website: http://www.heavenandhellalive.com