Thursday, September 26, 2002 @ 12:34 AM
Ronnie James Dio & Co. Live at
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REVIEW BY: Eddieshead
The voice of Ronnie James Dio has always been special to me. One of the first albums I ever bought was Heaven and Hell. The first concert of my life was when Black Sabbath promoted their Mob Rules release back in 1982. Here I am, 20 odd years later, reflecting over a night spent watching Ronnie James Dio belt out some truly classic music. And you know what? It’s actually better this time around.
Shortly after 9:00, the crowd started getting restless. Occasionally, a cry or shout for “Dio” could be heard. Minutes later the repetitive clapping began. Eventually those two techniques were combined and a new “Dio” chant grew in numbers and volume. The chant picked up some additional enthusiasm when a “Ronnie James” chant took over from the clapping part. Soon the house lights dimmed and the action began.
I was hoping that they would kick off with “Stand up and Shout,” but that was saved for a little bit later. Instead we got the title track off the new release, “Killing the Dragon.” I guess that was appropriate given the back-drop behind the stage was the album cover. The eager bunch up at the front with me were all into it and Ronnie James reached out to everyone there, shaking hands and giving high fives to anyone who he could reach during this opening number.
Ronnie James was dressed in black. I never realized that he was such a tiny person, but his voice ruled supreme. Jimmy Bain was over on the left side of the stage, reminding me of what Slash might eventually look like in a few years with that mop of black curly hair. Doug Aldrich, the new guitarist, out on the right side of the small stage, was in blue jeans and an unbuttoned shirt. The drummer, Simon Wright, was hidden behind his equipment in the back and centre of the stage. I didn’t catch the name of the keyboardist but he was on the far left side of the stage out of view for everyone.
I was surprised by the second number, “Egypt,” from the Last in Line album, but was soon reminded that there was always a great classic groove to that song once it got going. Magically the song then blended into “Children of the Sea.” This generated a big response from the audience, and Ronnie James smiled and gave the thumbs up signal.
Curiously Simon Wright then performed a drum solo. From my experience that seemed a bit early in the set for a drum solo, but since it was a packed house, and the band was already sweating all over the stage, I could see they might need to take advantage of any opportunity to pace themselves that night.
The band all came back out with drinks and roared into my personal fave: “Stand Up and Shout.” He didn’t need to tell us -- we were already doing it. “Push” from the new album was up next and then we travelled back in time and got a suite of Rainbow classics -- “Man on the Silver Mountain” interjected with “Long Live Rock ‘n Roll” plus the bonus of a ripping guitar solo spot for Doug Aldrich.
I can’t be too sure from this point of how the rest of the set went. It was hot and sweaty up front. Horns were raised all night long. Fists were punched up into the air in sequence with the heads that were banging and the all the hair that was whipped about. I know that we got another new song, “Rock and Roll,” plus a medley from Magica that concluded with “Fever Dreams.”
There were two other Black Sabbath numbers: a kick ass “Mob Rules” and a brilliant rendition of “Heaven and Hell.” It was interesting to hear Ronnie James say that he considered the Black Sabbath years a real highlight in his career. Other than “Last in Line,” the rest of the set came from Dio’s first album. “Rainbow in the Dark,” “Holy Diver” and possibly the highlight of the night for me: an explosive version of “Don’t Talk to Strangers.”
Maybe I forgot a couple of songs, I’m not 100%, but did I mention how hot and sweaty it was? Twice they tried to end the night and leave the stage, but we wouldn’t let them. Ronnie James and company, as exhausted as they looked, probably couldn’t have played another number, even if they wanted to.