Friday night, the Time Warner Amphitheater was the unlikely scene for the second coming of Black Sabbath. The metal titans have reunited with their second singer, Ronnie James Dio, cleverly retitled Heaven and Hell to avoid the wrath of Sharon Osbourne. The tour is without a doubt the metal tour of the year. And it was definitely a giant family reunion, with Cleveland's metal fan base present and accounted for. With Machine Head and Megadeth opening, it brought three generations of metal to the stage.
Machine Head set the bar high from the opening moments with “Imperium,” which set the tone for their short and brutal "half hour of power," as MH mainman Robb Flynn termed their opening slot.
The new Megadeth release, United Abominations, lands in stores on Tuesday, and frontman Dave Mustaine and crew previewed the release with a set that featured tracks from the new release, as well as a hefty selection of choice older material including "Wake Up Dead" and "Tornado of Souls." Though the setlist may have seemed a bit by-the-numbers for longtime fans, it definitely worked.
Black Sabbath -- err, Heaven and Hell -- took the stage with Ronnie James Dio, the one-and-only godfather of all that is heavy metal. Now in his 60s, Dio hasn't lost a step. The set opened strong with "After All (The Dead),” and was followed by the Black Sabbath classic "The Mob Rules." They have opted to not perform any tracks from Ozzy-era Sabbath on this trek, which opened the door to a setlist that features a number of Dio-era Sabbath tracks that haven't been played live in years, and seldom heard tracks like "I" from 1992's Dehumanizer album.
The set featured two out of the three new tracks from the recently released The Dio Years anthology, including "The Devil Cried," which Dio introduced as "something that opened the door for us to do this." Iommi delivered a scorching solo that led into another favorite from the Heaven and Hell album, "Die Young." As the set wrapped up, Dio introduced the title track from Heaven and Hell . The band returned for a final encore with the Sabbath classic "Neon Knights," wrapping up the most solid bill of metal in recent memory. You wanted bang for the buck? We got it all, and then some, on a Friday night in Cleveland. -- Matt Wardlaw