Live Music + Gig Reviews

Dio @ Academy, Manchester

15 October 2005

Following last year’s tour to promote his most recent studio album Master Of The Moon, the former Black Sabbath and Rainbow singer decided to hark back to his past with a special UK tour. The highlight of this new tour was the live performance of the entire 1983 classic rock album Holy Diver.

It was dubbed An Evening With Dio, but this could hardly have been less like those cheap and mostly embarrassing Saturday evening specials on ITV. Rather it was a trip through the back catalogue of a classic rock icon.

Admittedly, Dio takes a lot of stick from some parts of the music press and even his fellow musicians (anybody recall the hardly flattering song by Tenacious D about him?). However, one thing that can be adamantly said about the pint-sized singer is that he can bloody sing.

The most significant, if slightly picky, flaw was that he should have begun the night by playing The Holy Diver in its entirety instead of sandwiching it between other songs. The CGI short film which served as an introduction to Dio playing the album was basically crap, but it must have had some magic as it had everybody smiling with their hands in the air gesturing the devil horn salute.

Putting that aside, he sang his heart out and for the packed and over-heated venue it was a truly great and special night. Of course, like both Deep Purple and Magnum, Dio can be criticised for living off his past rather than moving forward, but for those who had forgotten or had only just been introduced to the album, the night obviously recalled just how great a record Holy Diver actually is.

From Stand Up And Shout to Shame On The Night it was a blistering, no holds barred rock event. The title track was awesome and Don’t Talk To Strangers had strangers singing with one another. Gypsy was also brilliantly played.

Other songs like Heaven And Hell (surprisingly complete with pyrotechnics) and The Sign Of The Seventh Cross from his days in Sabbath and Man On The Silver Mountain from his time with Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow were inspiring.

Dio and his band, who were also on absolutely fine form, played for two hours and with a couple of encores that included the anthemic We Rock, it was a terrific night.

Donny Osmond played to a much bigger crowd down the road at the M.E.N but for a couple of thousand die-hard fans, Dio was the man on the silver mountain. With a reception like the one he got on this night, there is no doubt he’ll back in this neck of the woods some time soon.

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Dio @ Academy, Manchester