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Back in the dark ages when metal was still about big hair and the thrash scene was mostly an underground beast, Dio was bringing great music to the masses in the same general fashion that he did while with Black Sabbath. The songs are complex yet memorable, all 5 musicians are animated and constantly pumping up the audience, and Ronnie is smiling the whole way through in that classic “I like my audience so I won’t do something stupid like look down at my shoes and act like I’m pissed at the world or anything else grunge related. Dio’s showmanship is in direct contradiction to the general 90s sentiment that a musician should simply “be themselves”.
Whenever someone suggests that musicians such as Dio, Kiss and all the others who put forth elaborate productions are fakes because they aren’t themselves, I like to refer them to a classic 80s move called The Heavenly Kid. In a particular scene, a geeky kid who is getting help from dead father on how to be cool comes out of the dressing room in a fairly stylish outfit, but wonders if the outfit is really him. His father/guardian angel answers the question by saying “You want to be you? O.K.”, and then snaps his fingers and instantaneously the geeky kid has absolutely nothing on in the middle of a department store. The kid immediately changes his mind and says over and over that he likes it until the outfit is back on him, definitely a golden moment. It’s too bad that no one had the nerve to explain to the emperor of grunge that he had no clothes.
But I’m digressing, the general point is that the show on here is elaborate, and the intricacy of it all is very purposeful. The hydraulics controlled 3 headed cobra, the miniature replicas of the sphinxes, and the pyramid construction of the stage all tie in heavily with the largeness of the album that Dio is touring on, “The Last in Line”. And of course, the performance backs up all of the fancy stage props, particularly in the case of Ronnie and the others. The only real flaw in the stage show is that Vivian Campbell looks like the upper half of his body is made of stone. He plays the solos well enough and doesn’t miss a single note in a single riff, but even the drummer Vinnie Appice looks more animated than he does.
The highlight of this show is the medley that extends from “Egypt (The Chains are On)” all the way to the end of the second reprise of “Heaven and Hell”, which occurs after “The Last in Line”. On most of Dio’s live releases the medleys are the low point because they often slash important parts of the songs, particularly the climactic ending of “Heaven and Hell”. But on this particular medley all of the parts are brought out and played a little bit faster than usual, but flawlessly.
Although a rarity that is not readily available in VHS format anymore, this concert can be seen on the 2005 DVD release “We Rock”, which also has the concert in Holland with all the Holy Diver stuff. The only drawback is that they cut the show opener “Stand up and Shout”, but you get the Holland version of that in the other portion of the DVD so it’s a small loss. Rabid fans of Vivian Campbell will be the most interested in this, but in actuality, this is something that ever Dio fan should have in their collection.