Dio - Astoria 2008

European Summer Tour
London - May 28
Capacity 2,000

Between Heaven And Hell's November 2007 UK tour and August 2008 US tour, front-man Ronnie James Dio decided to take a break and play a few selected shows with his solo band during the Summer, just because he can.

Dio band activities have been on hold since Ronnie, Tony Iommi and Terry "Geezer" Butler decided to reform the second line-up of Black Sabbath under the Heaven And Hell name. Indeed the next Dio album has taken a backseat to a brand new Heaven And Hell album. So with no new material to show off they decided to put together a varied set of different songs, including several they don't normally play.

First of all Girlschool opened the show. The second time in just over a month for them supporting a classic metal heavyweight after they opened for Saxon in April, and a nearly identical set of songs. This set benefited greatly from the inclusion of a brand new song from their forthcoming album Legacy, and much improved sound clarity on the Shepherd's Bush Empire show in April. They did miss a trick with the new song though. The new album has several guests involved, and this song in particular, I Spy, features Ronnie James Dio on vocals. But they didn't get him out to sing it with them. Strange but true.

Dio and band were in a good, relaxed mood from the moment they hit the stage. Rudy Sarzo looked as cheerful as he always seems to alongside returning guitarist Craig Goldy as they opened with Holy Diver, one of Dio's most popular songs. A surprise, given that it is normally reserved for later in the set, but it certainly kicked off the crowd in the best possible way. And what followed was a string of unexpected returning and rarely played tracks which delighted regular attendees for the best part of the next hour.

Killing The Dragon returned to the set for the first time since the tour for the album of the same name in 2002 and The Eyes from the last Dio studio album Master of The Moon was brought back in for the firs time since 2004 (although some dates included it in 2005, but not London). Every two or three rare songs they threw in a classic like Don't Talk To Strangers or Rainbow In The Dark, but the basic intention was to replace all the Black Sabbath songs they would normally play with extra Dio and Rainbow songs, on account of the Sabbath ones being played recently with Heaven And Hell.

Following Simon Wright's typically mundane drum solo Dio went even further back for Sacred Heart and Kill The King (preceded by a short section of Temple of The King) before Goldy segued his guitar solo into Magica Theme and the band delivered Lord of The Last Day, both from the criminally underrated Magica album. It would have been the icing on the cake to have had this followed by Fever Dreams from the same album, just as they did on the 2002 tour, but sadly it was not to be this time. They followed that with 1985's Rock And Roll Children, last played in 2004, before the usual greatest hits run to close.

With Holy Diver, Don't Talk To Strangers and Rainbow In The Dark already gone they pulled Stand Up And Shout from the Holy Diver album (the entire album was played on the 2005 tour) before the all-too-familiar Man On The Silver Mountain/Long Live Rock And Roll Rainbow medley, The Last In Line and favoured set closer We Rock.

A predictable end after all, but the first half of the set more than made up for it. Dio tours reasonably regularly these days, a pattern that has only recently been broken by Heaven And Hell's activities, so for the fans who come each time it was great to get such a varied set with the band letting loose and having fun. Heaven And Hell are now recording their new album and are expected to tour extensively throughout 2009, so it might be a while before Dio come back, once they've recorded their next album. By that time the set could go one of two ways and change again or revert to a more familiar formula to account for the gap between tours. Hopefully the former.

“ relaxed ”

Girlschool Setlist: C'Mon Let's Go / Not For Sale / Hit And Run / Never Say Never / Screaming Blue Murder / Future Flash / I Spy / Race With The Devil / Take It All Away / Demolition Boys / Emergency

Dio Setlist: Holy Diver / Killing The Dragon / The Eyes / Don't Talk To Strangers / Drum solo / Sacred Heart / Rainbow In The Dark / Temple of The King > Kill The King / Jam > Guitar solo > Magica Theme > Lord of The Last Day > Rock And Roll Children / Stand Up And Shout / Man On The Silver Mountain > Catch The Rainbow > Long Live Rock And Roll / The Last In Line // We Rock

Photo(s): Johan Eriksson | www.rockersdigest.com

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2008, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock, ,

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