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The year was 2003 and Dio had been riding high on the waves of a Metal Renaissance that began in Europe and has gradually been working its way into the states. The subsequent tour following the successful and musically inspired album “Killing the Dragon” yielded an amazing set of performances, one of which I was lucky enough to personally witness from the 12th row at the Star Lake Pavilion in Pittsburg where they Co-Headlined with the Scorpions and Deep Purple (the last tour with Jon Lord on the keys I might add). For those of you who didn’t manage to catch any of those shows, this DVD is a good substitute for the original experience, though obviously not quite as exhilarating.
One of the advantages that Ronnie Dio had on this tour over previous ones is that he had the most technically and musically proficient set of musicians behind him ever. Bassist Jimmy Bain holds the bottom of the arrangement strongly, as he has consistently done since he and Dio began their collaboration in Rainbow. Drummer Simon Wright puts on a hell of a technical display during his allotted solo time, making one wonder how he managed to keep those insanely simple beats when in AC/DC without having a breakdown. Scott Warren proves apt to the task of playing all keyboard parts previously handled by the likes of Jens Johansen and Claude Schnell. But the true technical wizard of the bunch proves to be Doug Aldrich, whose interpretations of the various solos coined by Dio’s previous collaborators is rivaled only by his amazingly varied display during his own solo sections, hitting upon such contrasting styles as Classical, Rock, Jazz, and Blues.
The collection of songs on here draw from nearly every era of Dio’s solo career except one, the Tracey G years, which is fitting as any metal artist would rather forget the era that those songs were written in, regardless to how good or bad each one was. The classics such as “Holy Diver”, “We Rock” and “Rainbow in the Dark” are all handled well, though “The Last in Line” steals the show as always. The Magica material is done mostly well, although Doug’s interpretation of the main riff to “Fever Dreams” is a little bit sloppy. The newer material is in good order, “Rock and Roll” being the highlight as it contains a brilliant aside on free speech by Ronnie before it gets started, as well as a stellar vocal performance.
Some rather pleasant surprises that appeared on here include a revamping of the set list, which has changed little since the tours of the first two Dio LPs. They have opted to drop the “Long Live Rock and Roll/Man on the Silver Mountain” medley, which I personally was never really fond of as both of those songs would tend to be butchered in that format. “Heaven and Hell” is performed a lot closer to its original album version, which is another welcomed change as the whole “Big Black Shape/Little White Shape” interlude got old shortly after the Sacred Heart tour. We do have a medley in the form of “Egypt (The Chains are on)/Children of the Sea”, which is not a bad match and brings back two songs that have not enjoyed a lot of play in recent years.
The extras on this DVD include a rather humorous music video of “Push”, featuring Tenacious D doing a funny version of “Heaven and Hell” and Ronnie throwing his own brand of comedy into the mix. The fact that this video didn’t enjoy much play on any of the various Music Video stations is telling about the moronic nature of the mainstream and its various media outlets, but for the perspective DVD shopper this purchase would be a key to liberating itself from the simpleton steeped airwaves. The behind the scenes footage is also interesting, as is the interview where Ronnie gives a brief retrospective of his career and his philosophical viewpoints.
Implied in the release of this DVD is a plain yet subliminal message, “GET OFF YOUR ASS AND BUY THIS”, it is directed at all fans of Dio old and young. After 17 years there is a new version of the Dio live experience on the video medium and it is sure to please. To those of you who thought that Dio was a has been and that he would hang it up at the turn of the millennium, may you suffer and die listening to the audio of this DVD being played at full blast by your neighbors knowing just how wrong you were.