I'm going to say it again - another month, another Dio release. Looking back over Ronnie James Dio's amazing life and career, I suppose it was inevitable that this would happen but it just would have been nice if some stuff had come out before he passed away. Take this DVD, for instance, because it is the first time this gig has ever been seen. Why on earth this never got released twenty years ago is quite frankly beyond me! Yes, I do seem to remember this particular lineup of the 'Dio' band (at the time, recently reformed, shortly after the Black Sabbath 'Dehumanizer' album and tour) getting some stick, especially for the inclusion of guitarist Tracy G in the ranks, but Ronnie James NEVER picked a bad guitarist in his life and this gig is testament to that. This is a band absolutely on fire and completely at the top of their game, putting in a quite wonderful performance at an iconic venue (It will always be Hammy Odeon to me, not the Apollo or any of the other names used since).
Recorded after the release of the 'Strange Highways' album, 'Live In London' is an absolute joy to watch from start to finish, even if this is a much more stripped down band. There is no Castle, no 'Denzil' the Dragon and no lasers. This version of Dio was more focussed on a slightly newer sound and more modern lyrics, which did alienate some people, but listening to the six songs included here from the SH album just proves to me what an underrated and strong album it was. The title track and 'Evilution' are huge slabs of doom laden metal and are played nigh on perfectly. Add to them classic Dio numbers such as 'We Rock, 'The Last In Line', 'Stand Up And Shout', 'Don't Talk To Strangers', ‘Holy Diver' etc, 'The Mob Rules', ‘Heaven And Hell' and 'Children Of The Sea' from Sabbath and 'Man On A Silver Mountain', well, you are absolutely spoilt for choice.
The great man himself doesn't sing a note out of place for the whole show and is in stunning form (I don't think he ever put on a bad performance). Vinny Appice thunders on the drums as usual. Multi-talented Jeff Pilson is a whirl of activity on the bass and Tracy G (yes, he does have a different style to previous guitarists) is absolutely brilliant. Keyboardist Scott Warren cannot be seen which seemed to happen quite a bit back then and is a shame, but the five of them put on a show that would leave many younger bands trembling with fear. Sound is excellent (you have a choice of Digital Stereo, 5.1 or DTS Surround Sound) and picture quality, bearing in mind this was shot over two decades ago, is as good as you could expect it to be. How much better the Blu-Ray would be is probably open for debate but I don't have that to compare.
Extras are confined to 23 minutes of brief interviews and footage of the band, before and after the gig, where they are all seen relaxed, friendly and at ease in front of the camera. Nice to have but not essential. What matters here is the gig itself which I will watch again and again. Even I wasn't expecting it to be this good! Ronnie James Dio was, is and will continue to be, a legend and I really don't mind things continuing to come out if they are as exceptional as this DVD is. I'm off to watch it again!
LIVE IN LONDON: HAMMERSMITH APOLLO 1993
Review by Rick Tilley
12th May 2014
1) Stand Up and Shout; 2) Strange Highways; 3) Don't Talk to Strangers; 4) Evilution; 5) Pain; 6) The Mob Rules; 7) Children of the Sea; 8) Holy Diver; 9) Heaven and Hell; 10) Man on the Silver Mountain; 11) Drum Solo; 12) Heaven and Hell (Reprise); 13) Jesus Mary & The Holy Ghost; 14) Hollywood Black; 15) The Last in Line; 16) Rainbow in the Dark; 17) We Rock; 18) Here's To You
Bonus Material: Hangin' With The Band
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the five of them put on a show that would leave many younger bands trembling with fear."