June 21, 2019
The Bomb Factory
Review by Michael Insuaste
Photos by Stephanie Cabral
DIO Returns With Disciples On Both Sides!
I will say the DIO Returns concert was one of the most anticipated shows this year simply because fans were either excited to see it live or wishing it would go over like a led balloon. After seeing it live for myself, I believe most will agree, it was good entertainment but came with flaws and some disappointment.
The official band and tour line-up are as follows: Craig Goldy on guitar, Simon Wright on drums, Scott Warren on keyboards, and newer DIO family member Bjorn Englen on bass. The show also features renowned metal vocalists Tim 'Ripper' Owens (Judas Priest/Yngwie Malmsteen) and Oni Logan (Lynch Mob). A stellar list of musicians in their own rite also known as Dio Disciples that formed in 2012.
The DIO Returns concert is a 90-minute celebration of Ronnie James Dio’s music career that includes all of the great fan favorites - such as "Holy Diver", "King of Rock N' Roll" and "We Rock" - taking fans on a DIO journey from Rainbow to Black Sabbath, to his own DIO material - with the legend himself in the form of a hologram image produced by Eyellusion, a live music premier hologram entertainment company that is taking the live concert experience to a new level.
The stage visuals were exceptional with a massive light show and video screen box in the center that housed the Dio hologram image. One of several things I heard among fans was, Dio look extra small compared to the real musicians. I agree, a matter of proportion with the hologram image set back 10 feet. I also heard complaints there wasn’t enough of Dio himself! Most were expecting the hologram Dio to perform most if not all of the show. At times it seemed more of a Dio Disciples Return concert than the Ronnie James Dio as promoted! Again, I agree, though I like seeing Oni and Ripper belt out the Dio classics. I kept waiting to see DIO RETURN!
From beginning to end, the music spoke loud and clear with the exchange from Ripper Owens to Oni Logan trading the stage with the hologram Dio, and even joining Ronnie on certain numbers. It had its moments of visual highs, especially when both Oni and Ripper stepped back and join Dio side by side. I wish they had done that more often, instead of keeping Dio in the background.
Lets face it, all new technology is not going to be saluted by everyone, especially music critics and the biggest critics themselves, the fans. Reading social media posts and comments, many say “THEY” should not be doing this to the DIO legacy, or “Ronnie would NOT like this!’ (as if they speak for Dio himself) and “Just another way to make money from the dead! Well Wendy Dio controls that and has all the rights. None of us can speak for Dio or know what he would have thought. Making money and entertainment go hand in fist and this new venture is just that, entertainment for those who may not have seen Dio before, but certainly, to keep Ronnie James Dio’s music alive, which I think is a good thing!
They closed the show with a few Black Sabbath songs, “Heaven And Hell” which rolled into “Man On The Silver Mountain” and ended with “Neon Knights”. You cannot say the music or the talent was missing because it was Ronnie James Dio’s voice and the electric sound of live music performed by veteran musicians and once again, visually outstanding!
Like most new technical ideas, the beginning stages are never perfect. I remember the early days of CGI in movies looked very cheesy, but as time rolls on, technology itself improves and perfects. I for one am looking forward to the future and what it might bring! But remembering what Ripper Owens said in his opening statement of the show, (not a quote) haters are going to say what they want, for those who are here to enjoy the music, the legacy of Ronnie James Dio with an open mind, you will be entertained!