Ronnie James Dio was the master of writing powerful rock anthems while also possessing an unparalleled talent for creating the mystical imagery to go along with them.
Eagle Rock’s remastering of Dio’s live performance at the Spectrum in Philadelphia treats the listener/viewer to a spectacle of sound and light where lyrics come to life. The over the top stage production of the 80’s era entranced legions of fans around the globe and this presentation is the culmination of perfect planet alignment, where all involved were in the right place at the right time, especially guitarist Craig Goldy. Goldy, having recently replaced Vivian Campbell, effectively proves why he was worthy of the job by showing off his polished style and prolific riffing throughout the performance.
Additionally accompanied by drummer Vinny Appice, bassist Jimmy Bain and keyboardist Claude Schnell, Dio leads the audience on a magical journey through the history of his career with searing renditions of “Heaven and Hell,” a killer medley of “Last in Line,” “Children of the Sea” and Holy Diver” plus the hauntingly cautionary tale “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” “Rock ‘n Roll Children,” “Long Live Rock and Roll” and “Man on the Silver Mountain” are seamlessly combined using the medley format once again. I have always considered this a creative way for artists with large catalogs to incorporate more fan favorites into a performance, plus it often makes for unique and impromptu opportunities during the show. The set is then brought to a furious close with the mind blowing fist pumper, “We Rock,” which Ronnie belts out with steadfast conviction.
From beginning to end, each song is representative of Dio’s legacy of unforgettable tunes that resonate with catchy refrains, driving drum beats, robust bass lines and, yes, even those controversial keyboard synthesizers that became popular enhancements in many of the classic, hard rock songs of the 80’s.
Ronnie’s heart was undeniably sacred, and we were all lucky enough to have been let into it with every performance he gave. This one is no exception. Devil horns up!