Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Die Young

The exciting sequel to Neon Knights, Heroes - Part Two, and Metal Masters!

Heaven & Hell / Coheed And Cambria
The Warfield, San Francisco
August 10, 2009

There was a moment last week when Umlaut thought he would miss this show due to ANOTHER road trip to see Green Day, this time to the Southern Cauldron of New Orleans and Houston.. No, I haven't written about it yet, and I'm trying to figure out how to do that amidst all of the Rock activity and other commitments that I have this week... Anyway, the Rock Godz are indeed benevolent and my streak of seeing every tour by the Ronnie James Dio-version of Black Sabbath remained intact.

When the reunion of this version of Black Sabbath was announced in 2006 it caused many grown men to scream like little school girls (guilty!). For my generation, this was the version of Sabbath we grew up with and for my money it's always been the most engaging of all the lineups. Unfortunately, it's now 3 years down the line and the appeal of this lineup seems to be waning as the new album is "just alright" IMO and this show was moved 50 miles from the 6,500 capacity San Jose State Even Center to the more intimate 2,500 capacity Warfield... NOT that I was complaining of course since an hour drive home was reduced to around 15 minutes.

Given the show's magnitude, The Umlaut Nation was out if full force tonight... so a shout out to Old Metal Tim, Teri, Raymond, Timo, Jerry, Photo Ray, Johnny, Any, Paschke, Stacy, Metal CPA, Photo Alan, Bret, and Nikki Blakk. Rock Star Sighting = Umlaut's old friend Dave Ed of Neurosis! Dude, Neurosis played a one-off opening the show in Seattle a couple of days earlier and they were offered the entire tour, but couldn't do it... Can you imagine!? Neurosis with Sabbath!?? I can't... and it's too bad because I walked onto the main floor to check out some of Coheed And Cambria's opening set and literally watched 10 seconds of them before turning around to return to the lobby and chat with friends; that dude's voice annoys the hell out of me.

At around 9:20PM the band's standard intro tape of 'E5150' started and then gave way to the call to arms that is 'Mob Rules'.. It was then Old School Metal bliss for the next 90 minutes or so. Besides standards such as 'Children Of The Sea', 'Falling Off The Edge Of The World', and 'Die Young' as well as 2-3 of the new songs, the band also pulled out 'Time Machine' which has always been an Umlaut favorite. A thunderous 15-minute version 'Heaven And Hell' closed the main set (I will never get tired of hearing that song..)... and for the encore they served up 'Country Girl' that acted as an intro to the show closing 'Neon Knights'... WOW!

"It's Heaven and Hell..."

There is no more powerful moment in Metal as when Geezer pounds out the bass line that announces the final verses of 'Heaven And Hell' after the bridge..

"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.. "

Fuck yeah.. METAL.

While Vinnie Appice has always been a weak link for me, Geezer Butler is still the quintessential keeper of the bottom end... and Dio was in fine form as well, masterfully working the stage with his voice as strong and inspiring as it's always been. When the band hit the stage and Dio picked up his mic stand and twirled it in his hands I got the biggest smile on my face since it's always been one of his signature moves. It's cool to still have that connection with my Inner Teenage Metalhead over stuff like that; we've been best friends for so long. However, it's always been about Tony Iommi for me.

According to the Umlaut Archives, this was my 12th time seeing Iommi in one of the various incarnations of Black Sabbath dating back to 1980. Newbies will always think that Sabbath = Ozzy but the truth is Sabbath has always been Iommi's band; he (and Geezer) created the music and he even owns the band's name. I've said it before in this space: Iommi's tone is where it all began for me and it's guided my life since I was 15 years old.

I love watching Iommi onstage because he knows exactly how badass and legendary he is... He will step to the front of the stage, blaze off one of his trademark riffs, look at the crowd... and then shoot a quick smile at the fans before returning to the backline as Dio sings another line. Iommi has always been my only true Guitar God... Always.

However, during the set I kept thinking to myself how disrespectful it was for Iommi to be playing an intimate theater that was NOT sold out... WTF!? How often do you have the chance to see THE person who basically created the sound of a genre?! Tony Iommi created the sound of Heavy Metal with his plastic capped fingers!! EVERY Metal band that has ever existed has basically ripped off or interpreted what Iommi originally did... and here he was in San Franfuckincisco, playing in the smallest venue that he's played here in years, and there were still tickets available at the door. Stunning. Wrong.

THANKS to Old Metal Tim for getting me in as his +1. Backstage revelation of the night: Dio smokes cigarettes.

Compliments I got on my Iron Maiden 2008 Tour hoodie = 2. I checked out the merch in detail, but didn't do a merch audit for some reason. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Waiting to get backstage is one of the most degrading things if you don't have *the right* pass and Umlaut doesn't have alot of patience for it. Oh yeah, I shook Dave Meniketti's hand while waiting in the Line of Shame... but only around 4 of you reading this know who he is or even care about that.

"So live for today... tomorrow never comes... die young.."