Friday, May 16, 2014

Dio-Live In London - Hammersmith Apollo 1993

Eagle Rock Entertainment

With apologies to Eagle Rock Entertainment (or more specifically Carol from Kaos Productions Inc.) this review is past due. My intentions were sincere, the hope had been one week tops. And yet here I am dismayed that it has dragged on. The reason is simple enough (if no real compensation). How does one, a fan first/reviewer second, put into words how much a man like Ronnie James Dio meant? From "Holy Diver" (first secured on vinyl no less!) on his music worked it's way into my life. The thought that he is now gone is...painful. Yes, painful. No more will we have the chance to hear new music from this classic metal heavyweight, a singer whose shadow stood ten times taller then his actual statue might suggest. Instead we'll have to be consoled with his past accomplishments. But, when they are as magical as this 1993 live release is concerned then at least we can take comfort in knowing that his legacy will live for ages to come! Having witnessed this giant of a front-man myself I can honestly say that he was as captivating as the concert represented here suggests. And that is considering the fact that I saw him live some 10 plus years later! In a live setting his presence was unlike any other (Ronnie James Dio OWNED the live stage!) and for me this live release stands as a testament to his greatness while it is also a reminder of just how amazing he was under those stage lights! Available on DVD, SD Blu-ray (which is what I am referencing) and double CD this concert footage features the (then newly-reformed) Dio (Ronnie James Dio on lead vocals, Vinny Appice on drums, Jeff Pilson on bass, Scott Warren on keyboards and newcomer Tracy G  (ie: Tracy Grijalva, a guitarist who had played with Vinne Appice and Jeff Pilson in the band WWIII) on guitar. Next to Ronnie (naturally!) Tracy's playing is the highlight of this concert!) on the last night of their European tour in support of the group's sixth full-length studio album, the underrated "Strange Highways". Featuring six tracks from "Strange Highways" (the title cut, "Evilution" and "Jesus, Mary & The Holy Ghost" all coming off as instant classics live!), fan favorites like "Holy Diver" & "Rainbow In The Dark" (those two songs alone make Dio's 1983 album one of the greatest heavy metal releases of ALL TIME and yes, they SLAY live!) and a few choice cover's from Ronnie's impressive back catalog (the Black Sabbath track's "The Mob Rules", "Children of the Sea" and "Heaven And Hell" as well as Rainbow's "Man on the Silver Mountain"!) this concert was insane! Opening with the cool "Stand Up And Shout", which is the perfect choice of numbers to get a crowd pumped up(!), Dio and his band-mates worked their way through so many great tracks and, other then the so-so obligatory drum solo, knocked it all way out of the park! From the sound* (superb!) to the color (the picture quality of this 1993 show is so clear that you feel like you are right there on stage with the band!) this is one of the best concert performances I've ever had the pleasure to view! If you are a fan of Dio then "Live In London - Hammersmith Apollo 1993" is an absolute must-have (it's worth every penny just to see Dio captured live like this and again, between Ronnie's powerful performance and Tracy's guitar playing this one absolutely smokes!). As it stands now this is currently the best one (concert Video, DVD and/or Blu-Ray) that I have in my (vast) personal collection of band performances (from punk to rock to metal!) and it's highly doubtful that it will be knocked off of that top rung anytime soon! While Ronnie James Dio will be missed, everyday from here until time runs out, thankfully we can remember him for the man he was and what he meant to heavy metal with wonderful releases like this.

*The concert is presented in DTS Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo.

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