HEAVEN AND HELL ROCK
It's Tuesday afternoon and I'm heading into Cardiff City centre to see Black Sabbath Mk II. Farcically, they have to call themselves Heaven and Hell after this line-up's debut album, cos Sharon Osbourne threw her dummy out of the pram!!!! This is the same lady who threatened legal action against two roadies who were writing a book about Sabbath. She was worried they'd portray her in a bad light. Even though the period they were writing about was before she managed the band!! Doh!!! She and X-factor deserve each other.
I arrive at the International Arena at 6-15 ready to meet Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice backstage. Vinny has arranged for me to get a crew pass and two tickets for tonight's gig. The PR company dealing with tonight had tried to stop me getting backstage claiming none of the band were doing any interviews on the UK leg of the tour. Fortunately Vinny had helped me with me book Rock Legends at Rockfield, and I was able to contact him directly. Problem sorted.
I'm taking a copy of my book to give to Vinny as a 'thank You' for helping me. As I wait at the side of the stage. One of the security guards asks me where I got the book as he's planning on buying it at the weekend. I explain that I'm the author and I'm giving this copy to the Sabbath drummer for his help with the book. This prompts an interesting 10 minute chat about the bands such as Sabbath, Queen, Motorhead and Rush who visited Wales to record at Rockfield. After this pleasant distraction, I ushered through the the Sabbath production office and after a short wait, I'm then taken to Vinny's dressing room.
Vinny greets me warmly and tells me that I'm an adopted member of the sabbath crew for the day and to make myself at home backstage. He passes me a beer from the cooler box and we chat about Sabbath's time at Rockfield. I record this for my radio series for Sunshine Radio, based on my book.
Vinny is a hugely friendly chap and a very talented drummer. It's a very interested hour that we spend together.(see top photo)
At 7-30, having wished Vinny a good show, I wander back out into the front of the venue. The crowd is gathering. Sabbath t-shirts everywhere and surprisingly a number of Threshold t-shirts. Five or six at least. Threshold are a good band but I can't figure out why so many of there fans are here. Are they lost? Are Threshold playing somewhere nearby??
One expensive beer later, and I wander to the main entrance of the Arena to meet up with Stuart Cable and the bass player Steve Williams from Killing For Company. Both are smiling and looking forward to seeing Heaven and Hell.
The support acts Iced Earth and Lamb Of God go down well. LOG have a big following here and the whole front of the arena seem to be chanting 'Lamb of God...Lamb of God..Lamb of God'. It's their third trip to Cardiff, and the second here at the CIA (Last time they were here with Slayer). They tell the audience that after these last few dates, they'll be taking some time off before recording a new record in the new year.
Heaven and Hell arrive. The stage set is superb. It's a church complete with graveyard, stained glass windows and fence.
Ronnie James Dio is in fantastic voice as they open with Mob Rules. Vinny's drum kit is huge and he puts in a killer performance. The Heaven and Hell set is fantastic. The only minor quibble is that there is a strange lack of interaction between the band. Tony Iommi stands to the far left of the stage with Geezer Butler around 100 yards away from him on the right hand side. They neither move near each other nor look at each other. Strange!
10-30pm...the set is surprising short -- at least 45 minutes shorter than the set played on the CD recorded earlier this year in New York.
We all disperse...Steve and I pausing to buy Sabbath hoodies for a tenner outside the venue and then we disappear into the night. Tomorrow I'll be back for the the Tokyo Dragons. I'm looking forward to it.
ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD by Jeff Collins is out now on University of Wales press. It's available from Amazon and all good book stores.