DIO – AT DONINGTON UK LIVE 1983 & 1987 (REVIEW)

Out now on Niji Records

More than 20 years after the fact, someone has finally seen fit to release these two performances of Dio at the Monsters Of Rock festivals of 1983 and 1987 respectively. Why this material was never released before is a mystery. The 1987 show especially would have made a far better first Dio live album than the horrid “Inferno : Last In Live”.

For your money, you will receive a nicely packaged double CD. There’s a rather spartan booklet and two backstage pass replicas.

CD 1 features the 1983 gig. Holy Diver had just been released and Dio was out to make a name for himself as a solo artist. The set list consists of tracks from “Holy Diver” coupled with some Sabbath and Rainbow tracks. The band is the classic Dio lineup and delivers a rock solid performance. Ronnie himself  sounds driven. Aggressive, hungry and raw. Vivian Campbell by contrast disappoints. Was it stage fright?  A lot of what he plays is just gibberish. The mix is much in the “Holy Diver” style : unpolished and dry.

CD2 contains the 1987 MOR gig. Craig Goldy in the band, “Dream Evil” on the shelves.  Again a mix of Dio, Sabbath and Rainbow tunes. Ronnie sounds more at ease this time around, probably enjoying the status the band had established by then.  The much maligned Goldy delivers a cracking performance that puts Campbell’s fumbling misadventures to shame. Production is more polished. This really should have been released as a Dio live album back then.

What’s obvious on this release is that we get the unfiltered live performance, warts and all. There’s the odd bum note and off key backing vocal. It just goes to show what a tight live band Dio was at this point (and frankly always remained), and what an amazing singer Ronnie was.

Song selection on the other hand was never Dio’s strong point. He relied on the same couple of Rainbow and Sabbath tracks to fill out the set up until the time of his death. Often mixed up in some sort of contrived medley. Why? Plenty of killer Dio album tracks never got a live airing…

Minor niggles aside, this album comes highly recommended for all fans of Dio and quality metal in general.

Rating – 90%
Review by the always talking to strangers Sancho.

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