Let’s be clear: We all know that the performances contained on either the CD or DVD of Neon Nights are not those by which the careers of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler or even Vinny Appice will ultimately be judged. Garnered from live performances in a 2009 European tour that included a stop at the world-famous Wacken Open Air festival, this is a gimme for fans and completists. No one is going to argue that Heaven And Hell (aka the Dio-fronted incarnation of Black Sabbath) are at their peak here, but with Dio’s death earlier this year and the subsequent dissolution of the band, the market will bear another Heaven And Hell live album, so here it is.
The main difference between this and the band’s 2007 debut, Live At Radio City Music Hall, is the setlist. Tracks like “Bible Black,” “Fear” and “Follow The Tears” from the lone Heaven And Hell studio effort, The Devil You Know, are available as live cuts for the first time here, and “Time Machine” from 1992’s Dehumanizer is a surprise inclusion as well, so if you’re the kind of obsessive who would have bought Neon Nights anyway, at least you can somewhat justify doing so.
And hey, “Falling Off The Edge Of The World?” “Die Young?” A 17-minute version of “Heaven And Hell?” It’s not exactly like it’s a trial to listen to this stuff. The playing of Dio, Iommi and Butler is still stellar (never been much of a Vinny Appice fan; his drum solo at the end of “Time Machine” is cut out; Geezer Butler is a god on “Die Young”), and like the best of live albums, it’s representative of the moment it captures. As a Dio fan, a Sabbath fan and a Heaven And Hell fan, I wouldn’t ask anything more of it than has been given.