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Dio – Evil Or Divine DVD Review

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Dio has rocked for a long, long time,
Now it’s time for him to pass the torch.
You’re too old to rock, no more rockin’ for you.
We’re takin’ you to a home,
But we will sing a song about you.
~ from "Dio", by Tenacious D

The first time I heard that song from Tenacious D‘s self-titled album of 1991, I nearly pissed my pants. It was great to see that Ronnie James Dio has a good sense of humor as well, and is apparently a fan of the D. The video for "Push", which is included in the DVD extras, starts off with a cameo by Jack Black and Kyle Gass playing a bastardized acoustic version of "Heaven and Hell", while sitting out on a street corner. As they look up in shock, between verses, there is Dio himself holding up a large gold coin as he angrily tells them, "I have something for you boys, if you’ll play some Tenacious D!!", and then drops it in their guitar case. The astounded look on their faces was priceless.

Ronnie James Dio certainly is getting up there in age, although I haven’t been able to confirm it, since most sources say he was born in either 1942 or 1949, but this concert proves that although he may well be pushing 60, he still has the heart and lungs to out-metal all pretenders. I can personally attest to this, since I saw him open for the Scorpions and Deep Purple on their 2002 summer tour, which was only a few months prior to the concert on this DVD. Dio is easily one of the best hard-rock/heavy-metal singers of all time, and still sounds as powerful as he did during his glory days of the 70’s and 80’s. There just may be something to this selling your soul for rock and roll business after all.

Dio was born Ronald James Pardovana and later changed his name to Dio. Why? Maybe because it means God in Italian, or maybe it just made for one hell of a cool metal band name. If I was a betting man, I would side with the 1942 birth year, for Mr. Pardnova, which would have made him an even 60 years young when this concert was filmed. Shit, I remember my father being into Lawrence Welk when he was 60 – Rock On Dio!

Evil Or Divine was recorded December 13, 2002 at New Your City’s famous Roseland Ballroom, during Dio‘s tour in support of his recently released Killing The Dragon album. The setlist was killer, especially if you are a fan of the older stuff, but if you were itchin’ to hear any songs from Dio‘s five studio albums released between 84’s The Last In Line and 2000’s Magica, then you were shit out of luck here. What we are left with is mostly songs from Dio‘s first two (and best) albums Holy Diver and The Last In Line, as well as the obligatory numbers from his Rainbow and Black Sabbath days. Hell, about all else we’re missing here is a little of the old Elf stuff.

With Killing The Dragon, Dio got back to a more familiar riff-based, metal approach after doing the much darker, Sabbath-like concept album Magica in 2000, but the songs still sound a little ordinary when performed next to the classic stuff. The fast and furious title track from Killing The Dragon, made for a fitting show opener, with its sinister intro and chugging guitar riffs, but the combination of "Egypt", from The Last In Line, with the Heaven And Hell epic "Children Of The Sea", really set the place on fire. The other new songs performed were "Push", a simple rocker with a fairly catchy melody, and "Rock and Roll" a sort of heavy-metal-"Kashmir", which Dio uses to condemn the post-9/11 censorship of rock radio. The two Magica songs, "Lord Of The Last Day" and "Fever Dreams", were performed later in the show, and sucked some of the energy out of the arena with their heavy, plodding pace.

It certainly didn’t take long to realize that Doug Aldrich is probably the best guitarist Dio has employed since Vivian Campbell twenty years ago. He is the perfect fit for Dio, as he is obviously schooled on classic rock, but is equally comfortable in the heavy-metal arena. His playing made the classic songs sound fresh, while still keeping true to their original style, and, most importantly, he totally nailed all of Campbell‘s legendary solo’s from the first two albums. His solo spot was excellent once he got all of the usual metal clichés out of the way. He eventually laid down some meaty blues-metal licks, threw in a little slide, jammed to some Jeff Beck-inspired riffs, and even paid his respects to Steve Vai. Joining Aldrich were Jimmy Bain on bass, who goes all the way back to the Rainbow days, Simon Wright on drums, who was doing fine until he decided to take a drum solo only four freakin’ songs into the show, and Scott Warren on the keyboards. This was a very tight and talented band, but they have unfortunately already been dissolved.

The highlights of the performance were definitely the Rainbow and Sabbath tunes. On "Man On The Silver Mountain" and "Long Live Rock And Roll", Aldrich’s guitar tone was simply monstrous. You could almost feel the energy, like when you used to stand in the front row at an arena concert and almost be blown over by the power chords, and bass riffs shooting out of the PA system. At least I used to. They closed the first set with an awesome performance of "Heaven And Hell", which was one of the best versions that I have ever heard. Dio saved his two most acclaimed solo songs, "The Last In Line" and "Rainbow in The Dark", for the encores, and once again Aldrich really shined on the solos. "We Rock" fittingly ended the concert and sent the awestruck crowd home wondering how the hell this old guy can belt out these metal anthems like he is still a teenager.

It is a shame that this document, of what may well be Dio‘s last truly great tour, was marred by such a flawed production. The video, in particular, looked like it was recorded in a snow storm. The level of grain was the worst I have ever seen, making you wonder what the hell went wrong, and why they couldn’t fix it. The colors were washed out and there was a lot of flare from the stage lights. A few annoying post-production effects were scattered throughout the DVD including some terrible stop-motion, and black & white video.

The DVD does include both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, to accompany the stereo track, but neither of them were very impressive. The DTS track was the best, but even it sounded a little muddy. Everything was spread across the front left and rights speakers, the center channel was completely ignored, and the rear surrounds had to fight for a tiny bit of echo from the fronts. The camera work was decent, but there were some rather strange shots, such as 30 degree tilted-angle views of the stage.

Along with the "Push" video, the extras include an interview with Dio as well as some behind the scenes footage, filmed by Dio‘s wife Wendy, who lovingly refers to him as Ronald throughout the video. This DVD is vastly different from the theatrics-dominated Sacred Heart video of 1986. Evil Or Divine has no dragons being slayed by medieval sword-wielding heroes – just a veteran band and a legendary front man performing some of the best metal songs ever. I’d check them both out if I were you.

Set List
Killing the Dragon
Egypt/Children of the Sea
Stand Up And Shout
Rock And Roll
Don’t Talk To Strangers
Man On The Silver Mountain
Long Live Rock And Roll
Lord Of The Last Day
Fever Dream
Holy Diver
Heaven And Hell
The Last In Line
Rainbow In The Dark
We Rock

Performance 8/10
Production 5/10

Read all of my DVD concert reviews at Roy’s Reviews

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About Paul Roy


    Well, if Ronnie James DIO-DIO-DIO still has the skills to shame men 40 years younger, then more power to him, somebody has to be out there singing about the meh-tul!

    A lot of his contemporaries really should be out golfing or whatever it is retired worn-out rockers do, but I’m glad to see he is still worth seeing, and knowing the set list really makes me want to pick this one up. Thanks for the tip!