Thursday, April 26, 2007

Heroes - Part Two

The exciting conclusion to Heroes - Part One!

Heaven And Hell / Megadeth / Machine Head
HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA
April 24, 2007

What was it I said in Heroes - Part One a couple of days ago?

"I couldn't think of a more appropriate show to see at this moment in my life... unless it was Black Sabbath with Dio on vocals.. and what are the odds THAT would be happening at this same moment in history too??"

The Rock Godz work in mysterious ways and I'm humbled by their generosity.

Of all my Metal heroes, I have to say the Black Sabbath lineup featuring Ronnie James Dio on vocals is one I'm beholden to the most. For the newbies: One story is the band is using the name Heaven And Hell ("H&H") instead of Black Sabbath to avoid confusing the posers expecting to see Mr. Sharon on the mic; I'll buy that.

Besides, Ozzy these days is a court jester who throws buckets of water on himself and the crowd during shows to distract from his diminished vocal abilities; he's a shadow of his former self. Meanwhile, Ronnie James Dio is still the consummate Rock front man whose vocals have remained impressive with age. Fuck Ozzy; DIO!!

On the walk from the parking lot, I found a ticket on the sidewalk underneath an overpass a block from the arena…and it happened to be a comp (guest list) reserved seat in a good section. It was almost like we'd stumbled upon the scene of some dark event.. Who knows what fell creatures stalk Dio these long nights.. "A Hobbit lay here... he crawled.. his hands were bound.. but his bonds were cut..."

What? Oh yeah... Sorry...

Anyway, The God Squad was present outside the arena trying to convert the Heavy Metal sinners to their team. I laughed out loud when the God Squad Leader preached over his bullhorn how we would all burn in "a lake of fire" for our sins, which caused some Metal Kidz to shout "YEAHH!!". Talk about not knowing your audience, Mr. God Squad Leader! If you want to scare Metal Kidz you have to use a threat, like, spending eternity with Christians in a boring place like Heaven, which I envision being a massive suburban shopping mall complete with crap music playing over the PA.

San Jose God Squad (Pic by Timo)

This seems as good a time as any to quote Dio's legendary live version of the song 'Heaven And Hell':

"There's a little white shape looking down at me,
Saying "I know where you ought to be…
Come with me, because I know just what to do"..
But I say "Go away! I'm gonna burn in Hell with all of you!!"

Dio is so Metal.. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Machine Head: I wasn't even inside the building when they played.

We walked into the arena for, like, 45 seconds to watch them and then went back out to the lobby and I immediately ran into a gang of Old Metal Bruthas and chatted with 'em… which was WAY more Metal than Mustaine could ever be.

Heaven And Hell: I've seen every Dio-era Sabbath tour and how Dio manages to deliver his majestic vocals like that every night is one of the mysteries of The Universe. How has Dio preserved his voice over the years? Was he once given a magical elixir by an immortal Elven prince?? Also, does Dio buy his stage clothes off the rack at the Ren Faire?

Tony Iommi's axe wielding has always been profoundly more melodic with the Dio lineup, and watching him play is like following Aragorn as he wields Anduril and wades into a sea of Orcs... or something like that.

Admittedly, the pacing of the set dragged a bit in the middle IMO, but my only real complaint is that I can't stand drum solos.. and Vinny Appice, you are The Weakest Link... However, the new songs were good in the "live performance" setting... and Geezer Butler on bass is always magic; I was especially tripping on his finger work during 'Neon Knights'.

For the record my favorite portion of the night's program was 'Die Young' > 'Heaven And Hell'. It's a testament to the greatness of the latter song that I completely geeked out when Dio sang the iconic closing lyrics and that after the show the streets around the arena echoed with fans singing the melody.

Random Notes:
  • In between songs, Dio did The Rock Lock with fans in the front row.
  • The Caveman was there (The Bay Area Old School know who I'm talking about)!!
  • Halfway through the set, 5 or 6 security guys wrestled some dude to the floor in front of us and held him face down for several minutes before dragging him off.. I'm sure he deserved it.
  • It was nice being at an Arena Rock show where a bra got thrown onstage.. Old School!
Sidebar: I guess it was kinda ironic that H&H played the song 'Computer God' in the heart of Silicon Valley in a building named HP (Hewlett Packard) Pavilion. At least I thought so...

This was one of those shows where the Umlaut Nation was out in full force, so a shout out to Ted, Timo, Dave, Richard, Chris J., Chris S., Mark, Craig, Sven, Erik, Loren, Raymond, and Rich. All dudes and no chicks! Hmmm. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Also, Rock Star Sighting = Phil Kennemore. I know… 1/4 of you are saying "Cool!" and the other 3/4 are saying "Who?". I shoulda had my pic taken with him. Squeeze! Word is his guitarist was also in attendance.

If you bought one of every Heaven And Hell merch item you would have paid $590. Dude, you could get a copy of the new Black Sabbath: The Dio Years CD autographed by all 4 members for $75; Dio's handwriting sure is pretty. You could also get a drum head signed by Vinny Appice for a mere $40. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. I wonder if I'll ever be put into songs or tales....

I wonder if people will ever say, "Let's hear the story about Umlaut seeing the Stooges and Heaven And Hell within 3 days of each other."

And they'll say "Yes, that's one of my favorite stories. Umlaut was really courageous, wasn't he, dad."

"Yes, my boy, the most famous of Hobbits. And that's saying a lot."

However, my story would end before the Hobbits went gay on each other like in the movie... Not that there's anything wrong with that!

"They say that life's a carousel, spinning fast you've got to ride it well.. The world is full of kings and queens who blind your eyes, then steal your dreams.."