Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights – Live In Europe (2010, Eagle Rock/Armoury Records)
- E5150 (DVD only)
- Mob Rules
- Children Of The Sea
- Bible Black
- Time Machine
- Falling Off The Edge Of The World
- Follow The Tears
- Die Young
- Heaven & Hell
- Country Girl (DVD only)
- Neon Knights
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Scott Warren – Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Executive Producers: Terry Shand & Geoff Kempim (for Eagle Rock Entertainment)
Country: USA & UK
Total Time (CD) = 1:14:30
Total Time (DVD) = approx 2 hrs & 30 mins
NEON NIGHTS : LIVE IN EUROPE is a CD and DVD release of Heaven & Hell’s headline performance in Germany, at the Wacken Open Air Festival on July 30, 2009. This is the last professionally recorded performance from the band and of the late great Ronnie James Dio. This wasn’t the band’s final performance because the tour, supporting their latest album THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2009), continued throughout the world and I was lucky enough to see the show in Boston, MA a month later. That tour stop in Boston was a great concert and will always be one of my favorite shows because I was right up front and dead center, it turns out that it was also the next to last stop on the world tour and the next to last live performance Ronnie would ever have. Sadly, Ronnie James Dio passed away from stomach cancer almost a year later on May 16, 2010. So what we have here with NEON NIGHTS is two separate releases: a CD version and a DVD version. If you’re going to buy one, I’d pick the DVD because they are both around the same price but the DVD has a little extra.
The DVD version of NEON NIGHTS captures Heaven & Hell’s headline concert of the first day of the Wacken Open Air Festival in the Summer of 2009. It’s the full setlist shot with mulitple cameras along with two interview segments as bonuses. As far as the setlist goes, this is the exact same set that I ended up seeing in Boston about a month later…..a bunch of classics and three new songs from THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. Even though Black Sabbath with Dio only released three studio albums, there are plenty of classic tracks to choose from including ‘Mob Rules’, ‘Die Young’, ‘Heaven & Hell’ and ‘Neon Knights’ but, the tracks I like the most are ‘I’ and ‘Time Machine’ from the highly underrated DEHUMANIZER (1992) album. The difference on the setlist on the DVD is that the ‘E5150’ intro is shown in it’s entirety at the beginning and an abbreviated version of ‘Country Girl’ is played and segues into ‘Neon Knights’ to close the show. It’s a great performance, a great concert with timeless music and flawless performances. All the members are top notch on their instruments and, for a man around 66 yrs old at the time and battling the early stages of stomach cancer, Ronnie gives another spectacular performance. The bonus features include 30th Anniversary interviews with each band member. VH-1 Classic’s Eddie trunk interviews Ronnie James Dio, Vinny Appice and Geezer Butler while Classic Rock Magazine’s Malcolm Dome interviews Tony Iommi, all the interviews focusing on the timeline of Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell history over the last 30 years. There really isn’t anything new to these interviews if you’ve followed this version of the band over the years, the band history is pretty much recalled the same by all four member, what is interesting though is the will and desire to continue with the current lineup making new music and touring. These interviews were done before Ronnie’s death so, at the time, the plan was to continue with Heaven & Hell. Another round of interviews with Tony, Geezer and Vinny were added as a tribute to Ronnie after his passing and they are basic quick segments of each member remembering their friend and bandmate.
The CD version of NEON NIGHTS has an almost identical performance compared to the DVD, the only differences being the omission of the ‘E5150’ intro at the beginning and the abbreviated ‘Country Girl’ that moves into ‘Neon Knights’. There’s not really much to say regarding the CD aside from that, the booklet, pictures and liner notes are exact to the DVD version and there are no bonuses.
I really enjoyed NEON NIGHTS: LIVE IN EUROPE because it was a tour souveneir for me and a last look at Ronnie James Dio in action. My favorite Black Sabbath lineup has always been the Dio era and Heaven & Hell is a continuation of that era just with a slightly different name. Taking a good look at the entire package, I can’t help but wonder why Eagle Rock/Armoury Records didn’t just put the audio CD in with the DVD and charge one price for one package, it would be easier that way for fans. I hate to call it a “cash in” or a way to put extra product on the shelves after Ronnie’s passing because this was scheduled to come out anyway, and the concert performance is great, I just wish there were a few more extras remembering Ronnie. Overall, a good concert that was captured on audio and video and it will be the live document that will carry the Sabbath/Dio legacy forward. Well worth picking up on DVD, the CD is for diehards and completists.