Monday, November 12, 2012

Dio Disciples: Ronnie Is Surely Smiling

Tim "Ripper" Owens and Oni Logan are a couple of rock belters of the finest sort, and when they take the stage to tackle the words and work of Ronnie James Dio, they honor the man to whom they are paying tribute. The entire group play their hearts out, and there is no exaggeration in calling this troupe a world class band by any measure.

The shoes and legacy of Ronnie James Dio are not easy to step into. From his entrance into arena rock as Ritchie Blackmore's first  post-Deep Purple vocalist, his fantastic work with Black Sabbath, his own incredible solo career, to his final days with Heaven and Hell, Dio set the high water mark for hard rock. His voice, lyrics, and stage presence were always exemplary, and his bands top flight - for Dio Disciples to attempt a recreation is bold, for them to succeed so brilliantly is a huge testament to their combined talents.

The topic of tributes is touchy to say the least. Rock fans love their heroes, and the idea of anyone trying to recreate the past for profit is looked upon dimly. I have long championed the efforts of the remaining members of Thin Lizzy for doing brave and excellent work keeping alive the memory of Phil Lynott, and their great band - in the face of criticism and skepticism the Lizzys made it work with passion, love, and pure grit. They've won over the lion's share of their fans and performed admirably. The minute Dio Disciples hits the stage, there is no question that they are playing for keeps, in top form, and are 110% committed to insuring that their love and respect for Dio the man is always the focus.

Maybe even better than the band's wonderful performance was the reaction of the crowd - there was not a doubter in the house, and it speaks volumes when you see the mouth of everyone in the crowd singing along with every song, and even a few tears on cheeks. This lovefest lasted from the opening notes of Killing The Dragon to the end of We Rock, Dio Disciples did just that - they rocked and they ruled.

Craig Goldy appeared on Ronnie Dio's radar back in the early '80s when the guitarist turned heads with LA metallers Rough Cutt - they remained collaborators for the rest of Dio's life. It speaks volumes that Goldy was Dio's choice for a musical right hand on four separate occasions, he was the singer's ace in the hole for over twenty years.

Goldy's performance with Dio Disciples is remarkable - faced with recreating the work of Blackmore, Iommi, and Viv Campbell, he nails every part your ears demand to hear, and he still manages to retain his individual sound. This is an art that not everyone can quite imagine, or appreciate, but it's like being an improvisational classical musician - knowing when to stay faithful to a composition and when to follow your own muse isn't easy, and he does it brilliantly. I hope he finds his way into an original project soon that can feature his excellent writing, and his great guitar work.

The remainder of the band is equally magnificent - Simon Wright is a fantastic stickman who's gotten the nod from Dio, AC/DC, UFO, Michael Schenker Group, and many others. His energy will blow you away and he keeps things thundering along marvelously. Scott Warren is along on keyboards, and he does yeoman work in keeping things melodic and providing a perfect pad for Goldy's guitar histrionics - his piano work on This Is Your Life, a delicate duet between Warren and Oni Logan is sublime. Bassist Bjorn Englen played and sang great - if you don't know him from his work with Yngwie Malmsteen, or as an instructor at BIT, keep listening, you will. His playing was perfect and his stage presence is top notch. Yeah, this band is going to blow your socks off, and have you grinning from ear to ear.

I have to admit, I went to this show with alterior motives - I was doing some research and recruitment work, but Dio Disciples grabbed me by the neck and took me for one of the best trips I've taken in months. Thanks, fellas, you blew me away.

Dio Disciples did what I did not think they could - they occasionally (actually, quite often) made me forget I was listening to a tribute band. It was just great rock and roll. As I said earlier Tim Owens and Oni Logan could not have been more powerfully impressive. Both are in absolute top form, and in great shape. Somewhere, in the rainbow, Ronnie Dio is smiling.

  1. (Dio cover)
  2. (Dio cover)
  3. (Dio cover)
  4. (Rainbow cover)
  5. Push 
    (Dio cover)
  6. (Dio cover)
  7. (Dio cover)
  8. (Dio cover)
  9. (Dio cover)
  10. (Rainbow cover)
  11. (Dio cover)
  12. (Black Sabbath cover)
  13. (Rainbow cover)
  14. (Rainbow cover)
  15. (Black Sabbath cover)
  16. Encore:
  17. (Dio cover)
  18. (Dio cover)

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