Heaven & Hell / Megadeth / Down John Labatt Centre, London ON March 24

Next to its original incarnation, the most popular (and tumultuous) version of Black Sabbath was fronted by Ronnie James Dio. As well-known for their infighting as their recorded output, many fans were delighted to discover the quartet were reuniting for a 2007 tour — and even more surprised to find it starting here in Canada. The triple bill began with New Orleans supergroup Down kicking off festivities in a ferocious manner. Featuring members of Eyehategod, COC, Crowbar and Pantera, the band were amped from the get-go. They proved to be the perfect opener and surprisingly stole the show. Thanks to a great selection of songs from their two albums and the best crowd interaction of the night courtesy of singer Phil Anselmo — who looked to be in the best shape of his life — Down made a much more lasting impression than the night’s second act, Megadeth. This current incarnation of the band are a technically proficient one that handle the material very well, but at times it seems like bandleader Dave Mustaine was just going through the motions. Their set was pretty workmanlike, as they were there to get the job done, not to blow minds. Heaven & Hell themselves seemed a little too reserved when they finally appeared. Edging slowly into their set with a tepid take on "After All,” it took a few songs before the band really hit their stride on "Children of the Sea.” Plagued by a poor sound mix that left Tony Iommi’s guitar floating in and out, the impact of those crushing riffs were lost on all but the most lumbering of songs. However, when the band clicked on "The Sign of the Southern Cross” and "I,” they managed to overcome the audio problems even with Dio’s annoying tendency to over-sing his parts and ad lib vocal lines over guitar leads. His egotistical vocalising made it seem like he was trying to compete against Iommi instead of entertaining alongside him. It seems some old grudges never die.