Heaven and Hell / Queensryche

Hoffman Estates, IL, September, 2007

by Colonel Angus

Queensryche stepped out of the studio to be special guest on the second leg of the Heaven and Hell North American Tour.Being in the studio must have given them the itch to go out and play live in front of an audience because the original boys from Seattle looked and sounded great.

The set may have been short but they still made the most of it.They opened with "The Whisper" from their totally under-rated Rage For Order LP. Even though they have used this song as an opener for a while,it hasn't lost any of its ability to get the crowd going. Next up, we got "Damaged" which is one of the better tracks on Promised Land.The heaviness of the tune fit the show perfectly since the crowd was looking for the more metal side of the band.Not to disappoint the fans, the band went back to 1988 and delivered a perfect version of "Speak". I don't think Queensryche will ever be able to play a show without including any material from the prog metal masterpiece Operation Mindcrime.

"I'm American" was given an airing next.The first hit single "Jet City Woman" got the one of the bigger applauses of
the night. While I was watching the show, I noticed how tight the band was playing, not that they are ever sloppy, but they had that extra spark and you can tell that the Queensryche machine was firing on all cylinders.

More Operation Mindcrime was brought up next in the form of "The Needle Lies" which is one of those tracks that begs to be played live.Not letting up one bit, the band then launch into "Empire".Those two songs back to back are quite the powerhouse one-two punch.I had read that the band was going to release a covers record so they decided to play "Welcome To The Machine" (Pink Floyd natch) complete with Geoff Tate on the saxophone. The cut was reworked and "queesryche-ized" which is good because a faithful rendition would have been cover band territory and Queensryche is no cover band. The show ended with "Eyes Of A Stranger" which was the perfect way to end their brief metallic set.If you are going to one of the Heaven and Hell shows, do yourself a favor and get there early enough to catch Queensryche. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

For those of you who don't know who Heaven and Hell is, it is basically Black Sabbath Mk III. Although the original lineup is considered the best (not by this writer), this version definitely has a high regard among all heavy metal fans. The reason for the name change is to prevent any confusion over who is singing and this version will only cover the Dio era material. For my money, this is the more musical version of Black Sabbath.

This was Heaven and Hell's second trip through on this tour and even though it was a slightly shorter set, the performance was still top notch. While E5150 was piped in through the PA, the curtains dropped to reveal a castle-like stage set up.And just like the record, the monstrous chords of "Mob Rules" kicked off proceedings. The band sounded really good and the acoustic at the Sears Centre gave the show a heavy but clear sound. "Children Of The Sea" was next followed by "I" and by this point they had touched on each of the Dio fronted albums.After a quick "hello" from Ronnie James Dio, the band launched into the plodding classic "Sign Of The Southern Cross".Tony Iommi put in a note perfect performance and Geezer Butler showed off his bass skills by finger picking all over the fret board. That song is a monster live.Another Mob Rules tune, "Voodoo", was next and just as it finished, Vinny Appice went into his solo. Although there are a lot of drummers out there,somehow I can't imagine anyone other than Vinny Appice manning the drum kit on those set of tunes.

The underrated Dehumanizer got another piece of the live action with "Computer God". I was amazed at the crowd response to the song.Of all the tunes played, it was definitely the most obscure of the set.I saw Black Sabbath on the Mob Rules tour back in 1981 but back then, they didn't play "Falling Off The Edge Of The World".That song made the whole show for me.They pulled it off perfectly. Tony Iommi then got his solo spot that really just bled into the intro for "Die Young".I'm glad they decided to play the whole song because on previous tours, they just performed a truncated version. The song "Heaven and Hell" drew the set to a close but not before they came back for the encore of "Neon Knights".

The fate of Heaven and Hell is up in the air at this time. Ronnie is going back to Dio to record Magica 2 & 3 and Black Sabbath is nearing another milestone so who knows when these 4 musos will get back together again. Do yourself a favor and catch them while you still can. There might not be a second chance after 2007.