May 18, 2007

Heaven & Hell / Megadeth - MPP

By Bob Suehs

www.rocknrollexperience.com

HEAVEN & HELL / MEGADETH / MACHINE HEAD

5/18/07

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Columbia, Maryland

Do I even need to share my enthusiasm when I head this tour was actually going to happen...Ronnie James Dio, touring with Black Sabbath, & then you toss in Megadeth & Machine Head, & this is most definitely the Heavy Metal tour of the spring! To be totally honest with you, it almost felt like a smaller Ozzfest when I got to the show, because even though they are touring under the name Heaven & Hell, come on, it’s freakin’ Black Sabbath! The crowd was kinda small when Machine Head came on, but they still kicked ass & delivered a 30 minute set that was powerful & strong...I’d actually say that it was the most energy of the night in my opinion, because they were the most modern band on the bill..no disrespect to Sabbath or Megadeth, but Machine Head just felt fresher at times & Rob Flynn is savage onstage!

Ok, so after Machine Head’s short set, the stage was set up for Dave Mustaine & his new version of Megadeth. The backdrop featured the bands mascot Vic Rattlehead, & I was kinda skeptical at first, because I grew up with the version of Megadeth that always had David Ellefson on bass, & to be totally honest with you, I didn’t know what to expect, I mean I’ve read alot of press that Mustaine’s done lately & I wasn’t sure if he was going to get up onstage & preach, & I didn’t even know if the band was still any good, BUT, if you had the same questions that I did, let me put them all to rest...Megadeth IS Dave Mustaine, & this version of the band is as tight as the “Rust In Piece” era, if not better! I kinda thought that James Lomenzo, who I remembered as White Lion’s bassist, & most recently, as a member of Black Label Society, would be an odd bit, BUT, to his credit, he fits right in & is the perfect bassist for Megadeth! The Megadeth set was about an hour long, & “Take No Prisoners” was one of the sets strongest numbers, but the definite highlight was “Holy War”, which was the encore, that featured a breakdown & the band played “The Mechanix” in the middle, which is technically, a sped up version of “The Four Horsemen” by Metallica.

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Megadeth just killed it, & one thing that I found ironic was, I remember seeing Megadeth a long time ago when I was in school & the crowd was young, there was alot of moshing, & chaos..well, the crowd this time around was older, & I didn’t see any moshing, just lots o’ respect for the band & I saw the fans on the floor just soaking up every note that the band played. Dave Mustaine struck me as a man who’s changed for the better, he seems happy, he was having fun, & his playing is better now than ever, so whatever changes he went through in his life, I definitely believe they were right!

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After Megadeth finished up, there was about 30 minutes of downtime to set the stage for Heaven & Hell. The stage was basically like a gothic church, or some sorta Jack the Ripper type dream...there was loads of smoke, metal fates, some definite church motif, & it was everything that you’d expect from Black Sabbath! Toni Iommi jammed away like a kid 1/2 his age, Geezer pounded his bass, Vinny kept the back beat of the band going, BUT, the true show was Ronnie James Dio!

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The bands set consisted of ONLY Dio era material, & “Mob Rules” was my personal favorite of the night. Ronnie did the coolest thing ever too...in the beginning of their set, I was photographing the first 3 songs & Ronnie came right over to me & shot me the devil horns, directly at me & he was practically in my face...I know that’s not really entertaining to anyone other than me, but it made for a great pic & I have to thank Ronnie for that, because the obvious thing about Ronnie is that he’s having the time of his life up there..he moves around the stage, he interacts with the crowd, smiles, shoots the devils horns...Ronnie is a true rockstar & you can just tell he’s a nice guy just by watching him perform..there’s none of that AXL Rose ego/attitude, & throughout the bands nearly 2 hours set, the entire band was like a finely oiled machine, spot on, never messing up, never missing a beat, & if you missed this tour, you missed on hell of a Heavy Metal show! The interesting thing about this show was that you had 4 really captivating performers onstage & it was hard to see everything, because you could easily watch Toni Iommi jam on guitar, or you could get lost in Dio’s stage presence, or you could watch Vinny bang the drums, or you could get mesmerized by Geezer’s headbanging & solid bass playing...This was the 2nd to last show of the US tour, then the band heads overseas for some festival shows. Hopefully this is not the last time we see the Dio era Black Sabbath tour, because they rock!