Dio - "At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987" CD Review ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dio - "At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987" CD Review

Dio - 'At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987' CD ReviewRonnie James Dio and his manager/wife Wendy formed the label Niji Entertainment early in 2010. Last month marked the label's first official release, Dio At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987. Both shows on this two-disc set are high-quality soundboard recordings and I believe these shows were also broadcast on FM radio.

The first disc comes from the Holy Diver tour and captures Dio's (the band) first UK show which took place at the Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington on August 20, 1983. The band had only played about a dozen shows prior to this, predominately opening for Aerosmith during the last gasps of their Rock In a Hard Place tour, but sound remarkably on their game for being so 'young'. Dio and band play an aggressive eight song set which sounds both raw and hungry. The set features four of the nine tracks from Holy Diver along with full versions of Black Sabbath's "Children of the Sea" and "Heaven and Hell" along with somewhat (to completely) abbreviated versions of Rainbow's "Stargazer", "Starstruck" and "Man on the Silver Mountain".

The second disc comes from Dio's return appearance at the Monsters of Rock Festival on August 22, 1987. This time around, Dio (the band) was a veteran touring act and this show took place early into the tour for Dio's fourth disc Dream Evil. The band's lineup is essentially the same as the 1983 show with the exception being that Craig Goldy (x-Giuffria) replaced Vivian Campbell on guitar which gives the band a harder-edged sound. This harder-edged guitar sound is reinforced by better sonic fidelity across the whole show which gives the band a fuller sound with more bottom-end than the 1983 show.

The set list for the 1987 show is similar in spirit to the 1983 show with six tracks from Dio's solo albums (three from Dream Evil) along with a mix of Black Sabbath and Rainbow tracks. This time around though Dio included most of the Sabbath and Rainbow songs in medleys so these are abbreviated versions. There is a full-version of "Neon Knights" but, somewhat surprisingly, an abbreviated version of "Holy Diver" serves as a lead-in into "Heaven and Hell".

This set does an excellent job in capturing the experience of a Dio concert so hopefully this is the first of many archival releases. The disc's $11.44 price point (at Amazon) makes it a no-brainer to add to one's collection.

Ronnie James Dio