Lost '93 Show Reveals "Dio of the Future"

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Dio Live in London -- Hammersmith Apollo 1993 Eagle Rock Entertainment, 114 min., $14.98 DVD/$19.98 Blu-Ray

This concert film will be something of a lost treasure to Dio fans. Not only has it never actually been released, but it showcases the group's lesser-celebrated mid-to-late-'90s lineup as well as a lot of material from the Strange Highways record, which was something of a departure in Dio's sound.

Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinny Appice had just finished their second stint with Black Sabbath, recording and touring 1982's Dehumanizer, when Dio decided to put his self-named group back together. The pair added guitarist Tracy G, bassist Jeff Pilson (ex-Dokken, currently of Foreigner) and keyboardist Scott Warren for their 1993 European tour, of which this show at London's famous Hammersmith Apollo was the last stop.

Released in late 1993 in Europe and early 1994 in the U.S., Strange Highways had more what Tracy G calls in the liner notes here "angry and angular" music as opposed to Dio's normal brand of mystical, shredding metal. Indeed, of the 16 songs here, six are from that album. And while some hit OK (the title track, "Evilution," Jesus Mary & the Holy Ghost") and others seem derivative or lacking spark ("Pain," "Hollywood Black"), Dio makes no apologies for the emphasis on the new music.

"We wanted to take two steps forward, not ten back," he says once during his trademark dry and factual introductions to almost every song. "This is not the Dio you remember. This is the Dio of the future."

Dio also has plenty of past gold to mine here, and offers a selection of his past with Rainbow ("Man on the Silver Mountain"), Black Sabbath ("Heaven and Hell," "The Mob Rules," "Children of the Sea") and earlier solo cuts such as "Stand Up and Shout," "Holy Diver," "The Last in Line" and, of course, "Rainbow in the Dark."

The players are all on the mark, though poor Scott Warren -- possibly hidden behind a curtain -- doesn't appear at all. Dio is in fine voice, Appice hits hard, Pilson thumps mightily and Tracy G shreds (though eschewing solos for power chords). There is a spark missing from the show that another of Eagle Rock Dio DVDs, Evil or Divine, has in abundance.

Bonus material includes the charming and unguarded "Hangin' with the Band" segment. Members are interviewed before the show while getting their stage makeup applied -- to the bemusement of the local English make up artist with the totally '90s sweater -- and then, after the show has them do a postmortem on the show and the tour.

Several members note that this is the most "conflict-free" lineup of Dio that was together to date, and the camaraderie is obvious.


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