Wednesday, June 19, 2013
This release marks Dio's fifth live album and the second from the Sacred Heart tour, as 1986's "Intermission" EP captured the first leg of the tour with original guitarist Vivian Campbell, prior to his falling-out with Dio.
This is a solidly recorded album (clear sound from the mixing board) but there are good and bad points to the show. To start with the good points, Dio was at his commercial peaks on this tour (he played smaller halls on each successive tour) and he and the band feed off the energy of the crowd. While this is a CD review, one needs to see the live video for "Sacred Heart" to appreciate Dio's sword and sorcery stage show. For anyone who missed the arena tours of the 80's, this may seem a bit like Spinal Tap but this show goes back to a time when rock bands traveled with mammoth concert sets and the theatrics were just as important as the music. (For anyone who is curious - check out any live footage from Pink Floyd's The Wall tour, any Alice Cooper or Iron Maiden tour, etc.)
The show kicks off with "King of Rock and Roll" and "Like the Beat of a Heart", which are two of the stronger rockers from Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart album though had a few songs that drifted into AOR territory and the heavy keyboards on "Hungry for Heaven" and "Time to Burn" sound very dated (...and too much like 80's Heart or Def Leppard). Looking at other parts of the set, almost 20 minutes of the show are taken by each member soloing which again seems rather dated and self-indulgent. The six minute keyboard solo which is immediately followed by a 7+ minute guitar solo will likely have most listeners skipping over these tracks on their CD players. Lastly, while most of Dio's live medleys generally sound on-point, the Rainbow songs "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" and "Man of the Silver Mountain" are butchered by too fast of a tempo. Coming out of these soft spots, the disc ends on a strong note with strong versions of "Stand Up and Shout", Rainbow in the Dark" and "We Rock".
I'm sort of hit-and-miss on this release but hope that the archival releases will eventually extend into Dio's time with Black Sabbath (a Dehumanizer-era live album would be a nice thing).
Ronnie James Dio