So, just in case you didn't know, the Heaven & Hell tour started last night in Vancouver (Canada always seems to host warm-up tours for the US) and I'm looking forward to seeing them as they pass through London sometime in the summer.
And again, just in case you haven't being following this closely, Heaven & Hell is the touring name for what is essentially the Mark 2 line-up of Black Sabbath.
After Ozzy departed in 1979 they made the albums 'Heaven & Hell' and 'Mob Rules' with Rainbow's Ronnie James Dio. They were a return to form after what were generally considered a couple of lack-lustre late seventies albums with Ozzy after the fucking brilliant 'Sabotage' in 1976.
Although the line-up erupted in personal feuding ('Dio' means 'God') and the excellent Bill Ward was bouncing in and out on drums, the albums marked the last true high-point of a ground-breaking band and set the tone for a certain sound most famously echoed in Iron Maiden's galloping riffs.
And talking of high-points, which bitter Ozzy fan do you reckon was responsible for not cropping the bottom of this photo:
Anyhow, Dio re-joined for an album in 1991 and I met Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler outside the stage door at Manchester Apollo on that tour. I also got into the dressing room and met drummer Vinnie Appice and Ronnie himself. Which was great. And he is tiny but very friendly.
So there we go - it's going to be great to hear the Dio-era songs live again (they've got a compilation album out with three new tracks here and Ronnie's personal assistant's MySpace page is here).
Lest we forget however that nothing beats the 1969-1979 Sabbath, although I think 2005 was the last time I'll see that line-up live.
Bill's website is here and I reckon you'll be able to find Ozzy somewhere.
Pictures of the first gig are popping up here. I know you just can't wait to see them...