Dio - Dio At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987
'Twas indeed a sad day for metal when Ronnie James Dio passed away earlier this year; so some may see it as rather cynical that a slew of releases are now due to celebrate/commemorate/cash-in on his untimely death. More dubious recordings will rear their head soon enough, but Dio At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987 is not such a record. The great man himself was involved in putting together this double set of classic appearances at the home of live metal prior to his death, and the quality of both discs cannot be denied.
1983’s performance, in support of the seminal Holy Diver album, is undoubtedly the superior of the pair, due mostly in part due to a simply stunning setlist drawn from across his career. There is very little at fault as riff after glorious riff races by underneath one of the greatest pairs of lungs in rock history - belting out fantastical stories as only Dio can.
Alongside future classics such as ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ and ‘Holy Diver’ itself, old Black Sabbath favourites ‘Children Of The Sea’ and ‘Heaven And Hell’, as well as Rainbow staples like ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ and ‘Stargazer’ (albeit in abbreviated form) flow seamlessly; they might all have come from different bands in different eras, but even now in 2010 they all sound fantastic, fresh and full of vim.
With a couple more Dio albums added to his cannon by the time 1987 rolls around, the 45 minute set is by now a little congested, and as a consequence a number of the more obvious choices such as ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘Heaven And Hell’ only appear in a mid-set medley that ends up infuriating more than pleasing as the listener (and I imagine the audience on the night) is left unsatisfied and baying for the rest. The room made by such a move is filled by the likes of ‘The Last In Line’ and ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’, which with hindsight is rather a raw deal. At least ‘Neon Knights’ also gets a much deserved airing, and the version here of ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ to close proceedings is truly killer.
Dio At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987 will relive the moment for those there, and will make the rest of us wish we had been; this is an album that will only add to the already godlike legacy Dio left in his wake. Rest in peace.