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 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.
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.
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.