At roughly two hours in length, this concert, which documents Dio's sold out performance at the London Astoria on his 2005 tour, is a testament to his enduring popularity. Let's face it, he's a strange looking guy who wasn't really going to get by on looks like a lot of other musicians seem to, so he had to make the most out of his distinct and powerful singing voice if he wanted to make it. The fact that he has, and that he's last as long as he has regardless of what band he may or may not be fronting at the time, really shows how good Ronnie James Dio can be. Thankfully, this video captures him at his best, as he skulks about the stage belting out some of his more recognizable songs from throughout his career and yes, performing the classic Holy Diver album in its entirety, like a man half his age.
So with Dio himself in top form and running around the stage like a madman, how does the rest of the band fare? Very well, actually despite the fact that this isn't really the definitive Dio line up. Joining Ronnie on stage are Rudy Sarzo on Bass, Simon Wright on Drums, Doug Aldrich on guitar (filling in for an injured Craig Goldy) and finally, Scott Warren on keyboards. They're all just as into it as he is and they deliver a fantastic backing to Dio's vocals without missing a beat. The playing is tight and slick, never sloppy, and the various solos that crop out throughout the performance never feel like they're going on too long or trying to steal attention away from the frontman. Aldrich in particular fits in really nicely here, his guitar playing is fast but melodic, never overdone or 'too much' for the music, instead fitting right in.
The fact that the vocalist and the band are in top form isn't going to be as big deal if the set list stinks, right? Right! Thankfully they got that right this time out as well. Not only do we get everything off of Holy Diver but we also get a couple of Black Sabbath tracks and four Rainbow tracks thrown into the mix as well, which is a really nice touch, making this as much a look back at his career as simply a spotlight on his most famous record.
The complete track listing for this performance is as follows:
Sign Of The Southern Cross
One Night In The City
Stand Up And Shout
Caught In The Middle
Don't Talk To Strangers
Straight Through The Heart
Rainbow In The Dark
Shame On The Night
Gates Of Babylon
Heaven & Hell
Man On The Silver Mountain
Long Live Rock 'N' Roll
The concert is also very well shot, without a lot of annoying digital effects or an over reliance on hyper active editing techniques. It's a pretty simple and straight forward affair in terms of the cinematography, with the cameras and post production techniques opting not to bury the show in effects but instead to let the music and the band speak for themselves. This simple approach to capturing the show works wonders in that we're not bombarded with unnecessary distractions and are instead left to just watch the band and take it all in as if we were really there. A lot of DVDs do a pretty poor job of recreating the concert experience, thankfully this one gets it right through good old fashioned strong camerawork and proper framing of the action.
The 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen video isn't perfect on this release but it's definitely very good. There are a few spots where the stage lighting muddies up the action a bit, which is typical of concert videos, and one or two instances where some strobes flare up quite a bit. Other than that, things look pretty nice on this disc. Color reproduction is strong and there's a nice level of both foreground and background detail present in the image throughout the duration.
Surround Sound mixes are available in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 mixes, and for the surround sound impaired there's a 2.0 stereo track included as well. The 5.1 tracks sound pretty close to one another with the DTS having, you guessed it, slightly stronger bass than its Dolby Digital counter part. The majority of the concert action comes at you from the front of the speaker setup with the rear channels being used primarily for audience and crowd noise. It works, and it works well. The percussion and the bass sound nice and strong and the vocals come through clearly. There are times where the center channel seems to drop out now and then which is rather odd but aside from that this is a strong effort.
Aside from the standard menus and a song selection option, we're treated to a few Bonus Interviews with Ronnie and his band members from the tour. They talk about life on the road, how the tour had been treating them up until this point, and what it was like playing in Europe and even going into Russia for a few dates. Dio seems very comfortable with this line up, praising them more than once, and we're then treated to a few quick interviews with a few crew members who also attest to how great it is to work with everyone involved. Fairly standard stuff, but interesting enough for fans of the band.
Ronnie James Dio has been going strong for over thirty years now and if this performance is any indicator age doesn't seem to be slowing him down in the least. Fans of his classic material and the titular album in particular really ought to enjoy this disc, it's a well put together package despite a few minor flaws in the audio department. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.