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Old 09-24-2007, 12:05 AM  
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Heaven & Hell, Alice Cooper and Queensryche review

Well, folks, it was everything I hoped it would be, and more. I was really expecting a bit less from Alice, since he wasn't the headliner, and since I'd heard he had kind of toned down the theatrics, but he delivered well beyond what I was expecting.

Queensryche

They were solid. I went into it with a bit of a wistful feeling, wishing De Garmo was still around. But Mike Stone does a really good job of filling his shoes, much better than Kelly Gray did. Stone is quite a capable guitarist, and he handled most of the leads, with Wilton taking the lead only a few times. The majority of their set was comprised of songs from Mindcrime I and Empire, with a few selections from other albums. The biggest disappointment for me was that they didn't play long enough, and they didn't play "NM 156," which they've been playing at other shows on the tour. But they did play some stuff they haven't been playing at other shows. They also did a great cover of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine," which will be on their upcoming cover album, due out in November.

Alice Cooper

Contrary to what I was half expecting, his theatrical show wasn't toned down at all! He brought out the whole shebang (except that he's now doing a gallows routine, instead of the guillotine). The band was pretty sharp, but not really standouts, except for drummer, Eric Singer. Of course, musical virtuosity has never been Alice's selling point, so having average musicians in his stable has never taken anything away from his show. The drum solo, however, was the best of the night, eclipsing Vinny Appice. It was actually a drum trio, as both of the guitarists were set up on small standing drum kits attached to either side of Eric's main kit. And the 3-way solo was mightily impressive! But I digress. Alice was every bit the showman I expected him to be (honestly, who is there in the industry that even comes close, in terms of showmanship?) He brought out his daughter, who is his main dancer, for a protracted theatrical scene that spanned "Welcome to my Nightmare," "Only Women Bleed," "Stephen," "The Ballad of Dwight Fry," and "Dead Babies." The only disappointment, again, was that he didn't play long enough, though his set was nearly an hour and a half. And oddly, they didn't play "Billion Dollar Babies." Alice really stole the show, to be honest, and even if Queensryche and Heaven & Hell hadn't been there, it would have been worth the $80 pricetag on my tickets just to see him alone!

Heaven and Hell

What can I say, the Evil Elf still has it! I don't think RJD has lost one iota of edge from his vocal range! I think they could have chosen a better setlist, though, because there were way too many of their slower and more plodding pieces, which made it hard for them to keep the crowd in it, not that it would have been easy with even a stellar setlist, having to follow Alice Cooper. The crowd was really revved up when they came on with "The Mob Rules" and "Children of the Sea," but then they lost the crowd through most of the rest of their set, until the song "Heaven and Hell" brought everyone back to their feet. Until then, about half the arena was seated for most of their set. Can't really blame them, though, it was a long night, and everyone was tired. But despite the lack of energy in much of the setlist, they were still very solid, and I would expect no less from any incarnation of Black Sabbath. And fast or slow, up tempo or macabre, there isn't a guitar player in the business who can dominate the stage with the style, elegance and sheer sense of giganticness of Tony Iommi.
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