Dio are no strangers to the live album or concert film. In recent years they have released live shows that were recorded in New York, Philadelphia and England. The most recent addition is Live In London, a concert recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 1993 and one that has never been made available officially.
The show marked the end of a European tour for the band as they promoted their sixth studio album, ‘Strange Highways’. The line-up consists of the late, great Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Rainbow) plus Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath), Tracy G and Jeff Pilson. It is considered by many fans as one of the band’s stronger line-ups, even if the album they were promoting at the time wasn’t necessarily accepted in that same way.
Across 18 songs (including one drum solo that resembles Led Zeppelin’s ‘Moby Dick’) the group play six songs from Strange Highways plus three Black Sabbath originals (‘The Mob Rules’, ‘Children Of The Sea’ and ‘Heaven & Hell’ (which is later reprised)) and one Rainbow cover, ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’. The evening is driven by Dio’s amazing powerhouse of a voice. The then 51-year old sounded fine, irrespective of whether he was singing against chugging guitar melodies, spitting vitriol at harder moments, or allowing the rougher edges of his band’s music to reign with a tough, brute force. The fact is, he sounded like a man decades younger.
The quartet were especially tight on this particular evening and they started off with an energetic and incendiary, ‘Stand Up And Shout’. In ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’ the mood darkened before the self-proclaimed, “strange” song, ‘Strange Highways’. G was definitely in his element during ‘Pain’ which boasted a great, extended guitar solo. It was an enthusiasm that he also brought into ‘The Last In Line’. In the latter, the quieter moments sounded like Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ while during the louder parts it was more like ‘Kashmir’.
The night was certainly about raw, unadulterated power (with Pilson even saying so much during the bonus interview). At times the group’s hard rock vibe also segued off into the sort of theatrics more typically associated with Dream Theatre or even Muse to a certain extent. The fact is, the band tore up the stage and offered a very visceral and heavy experience. It was a journey that is at odds with the humour and self-deprecation exhibited by the band during the 20 minute, behind-the-scenes bonus feature.
Dio’s Live In London will appeal to many fans of the band that may have only heard these great cuts on bootlegs or the odd live compilation. The show is definitely one worth seeing as it shows a ferocious live band bringing a manic, over-the-top energy to their show. It also means it’s hard not to sit up and get swept away in the raw power of it all, it is such a classic concert.
Originally published on 30 April 2014 at the following website: http://sfmedia.com.au/dio-live-in-london-hammersmith-apollo-1993-dvd-review/
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