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DIO | Live In London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993

by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Columnist —

DIO  Live In London Hammersmith Apollo 1993In the case of posthumous albums, there’s always an uneasy feeling of the possible motivation behind their release – all this being about the financial profit rather than a continuation of the particular artist’s musical legacy. If the legions of mourning fans are certain to sacrifice their hard-earned money at the altar of their late hero and buy the post-mortem release no matter what, this financial motivation seems to be quite legit. Anyway, it’s not that obvious if you think of posthumous live albums; many of the archival concert recordings which are being released nowadays are the flagship of the past anyway. And these are not back-of-the-closet compilations of obscure and often botched tracks – but a real testament to the particular artist’s talent and spirit instead.

One of these is another vault of DIO’s catalog recently released by Eagle Rock Entertainment, which is Live In London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993. Released both on CD and on DVD/Blu-ray, it’s comprised of live recordings from a London gig at Hammersmith Odeon on Dec. 12, 1993 during the Strange Highways European tour.

Then-present line-up of Ronnie James Dio (vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass), Vinny Appice (drums), Tracy G (guitar) and Scott Warren (keyboards) might have been less popular than the previous incarnations of the band – and most certainly, the albums of this era were nothing equal to Holy Diver or The Last In Line. The 1993 release wasn’t as warmly welcomed as were its predecessors, too. However, there was a good few ‘current’ recordings in the concert setlist (“Evilution”, “Jesus, Mary & The Holy Ghost”, “Pain”, “Hollywood Black”, “Here’s To You” and the title track of then-promoted Strange Highways album). And as for the rest, it’s a set of pure classics – the ‘greatest hits’ of DIO and Dio-era Black Sabbath and a little of Rainbow, too. It’s an incredible souvenir for every fan who saw the band live on that tour and a fascinating journey back in time for these who weren’t so lucky.

“Stand Up And Shout” is perhaps one of the best possible concert openers in DIO’s entire catalog. No wonder that a very solid performance of this particular song was the first track the attendees of the Hammersmith Odeon gig were to hear that night. The other classics of the ‘80s era DIO are “Don’t Talk To Strangers” (with a blistering guitar solo), “Rainbow In The Dark” with a breathtaking showcase of Ronnie’s vocal range and unmistakable manner, “We Rock,” the epic “The Last In Line” and the obligatory anthem “Holy Diver.” For these who preferred Dio alongside Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler in early ‘80s Black Sabbath, there’s a couple of tracks of this era. That is, a dramatic ballad “Children Of The Sea,” fast-paced “The Mob Rules” and the legendary “Heaven And Hell” (the latter enriched with Ronnie’s rich vocal improvisation).

Indecently overlooked is, on the other hand, the Rainbow era – represented only with “Man On The Silver Mountain” noticeably heavier than its original version. Instead of filling the blanks in the set with such classics as “Catch The Rainbow” or “The Temple Of The King,” you can enjoy your little bit of concert listening experience with the extended drum solo of Vinny Appice smoothly transformed into the reprise of “Heaven And Hell”. On the other hand, the newer, early ‘90s songs included here in their live versions, such as bass-driven, lumbering “Strange Highways” or guitar-laden “Pain” are noticeably different from the rest of the material. This difference’s definitely marking the significant change within the band’s sound, as they’ve apparently abandoned the ‘80s conventions in favor of the new at the time. And yet – as for the classic tunes performed that night, you can’t mistake any of them for anything else in the world. That’s a fact Live In London album clearly proves.

Live In London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993 captures the moment in time that is no return to – the great Ronnie James Dio then entering the ‘90s after almost two decades of recording and releasing milestone albums for hard rock and heavy metal, and after more than thirty years of overall stage tenure. The album’s the showcase of the incredible vocal shape and power Ronnie presented those days, with a solid band in the background. Apart from Vinnie Appice’s tremendous performance behind the drum kit, the rich and dynamic guitar work throughout the entire record is yet another highlight. It proves that although Tracy G had some big shoes to fill, he definitely rose up to the challenge – just listen to him chopping the riffs in “We Rock”! But most of all, this live album – as any other in Ronnie James Dio’s vast discography – proves how big was the loss that the whole music industry sustained four years ago. Live In London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993 is not only an excavated gem for the die-hard DIO fans; it’s a textbook of what heavy metal is all about. Give it a try and reminisce about “the little man with the big voice.” Horns up!

Genre: Heavy Metal

Ronnie James Dio – vocals
Tracy G – guitars
Vinny Appice – drums
Scott Warren – keyboards
Jeff Pilson – bass

Track List:
1. Stand Up And Shout
2. Strange Highways
3. Don’t Talk To Strangers
4. Evilution
5. Pain (with guitar solo)
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

Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment


Hardrock Haven rating: 9/10