Classic live Dio getting a decent release. Evil Or Divine and Holy Diver Live. The first two revamped releases in the Dio Live series.
Release date: 12th February 2021
Label: BMG / Niji Entertainment
Format: 2CD Deluxe Mediabook, 3LP Standard Edition, & Remastered Digital Versions + Limited Edition 3LP Vinyl includes lenticular 3D album cover sized art
Do we really need any excuse to have a listen to some prime Ronnie James Dio? In this case, his solo guise comes to the fore with a couple of live releases. Wendy Dio and BMG have the catalogue set for reissue with a few surprises.
We kick off with Evil Or Divine from New York City in 2002. Released on DVD back in 2003 and CD in 2005. It sees the impressive Dio / Doug Aldrich combo with Simon Wright on drums, Scott Warren on keys and Ronnie’s old mucker from Rainbow, Jimmy Bain on bass.
To be fair, you’d find it hard to fault any show with Dio fronting the gang, casting his poses and gestures. Especially with his CV and where, like a good Premiership squad, he’d be able to rotate and switch songs around without losing the quality. The format of classic ‘hits’, solo spots (a drum solo is out of the way early doors) and a crowd-pleasing selection is thrilling enough. And it’s a ‘show’ – a production that requires a dramatic intro tape and especially with Egypt – The Chains Are On, there’s plenty of pomp and ceremony with Aldrich churning out the hefty riffs regardless of Dio-era. In true Rainbow/Blackmore style, they combine a quarter-hour workout of Man On The Silver Mountain, a guitar solo and a Long Live Rock And Roll that do justice to Ronnie and Richie’s partnership.
The dips into the solo catalogue is peppered with Dio era Sabbath prime cuts which are tossed at the baying New Yorkers, but the focus is on his own work. The telltale sign of the selection of We Rock, Rainbow In The Dark and The Last In Line copping the prime slots for the climax of the set.
Holy Diver Live is perhaps the default choice as the set features the legendary Holy Diver performed live in its entirety plus classic songs from across his career again including the Black Sabbath and Rainbow eras.
Recorded live at the London Astoria, Rudy Sarzo replaces Jimmy Bain on the teamsheet and side from the album (and the track itself which seems to have become a go-to standard for all manner of Rock outfits to have a go at covering) the Sabbath and Rainbow selections are a pleasure. The emphasis is on the epic.
More solo slots abound. The drum solo gets ticked off early doors again – a good move while everyone is in the thrills of the show beginning, but the Aldrich solo drags somewhat); expected but unnecessary. Some might find fault with the definite feel of looking back/retrospective-ness about the setlist. However, it’s pretty faultless and set amidst the towering dragon backdrop, the epic feel of Dio is assured.
Holy Diver comes first (a little digging leads me to believe it may have been in the midst of the set a he actual show). You know the album, you know the high points. Enough said.
The scream that precedes Tarot Woman is a sign of the thrill it is to actually hear Ronnie (and Doug who does a fine job) playing this tune. Of course, Heaven And Hell (again) heralds the audience participation moment. A track that’s earned a place in the annals of rock history. The sweep of Gates Of Babylon receives a hefty treatment, subtlety cast aside and gets dedicated to Cozy Powell. Ronnie obviously holds his Rainbow days close to his heart, offering a tantalising and painfully brief snippet of Catch The Rainbow is a lovely intro to Long Live Rock And Roll. The sweep of Gates Of Babylon receives a hefty treatment, subtlety cast aside and gets dedicated to Cozy Powell.
So a feast of Dio live? No excuse necessary.
Here’s the Tarot Woman clip from London 2005: