Back before the dawn of time, the elders of rock bestowed the mystical secrets of metal magick on a few men whose souls were the blackest of black. One of the keepers of those legendary secrets is Ronnie James Dio. (The others include the members of Black Sabbath, Slayer and Tenacious D).
Now, with the live Evil or Divine, RJD takes listeners back through a tour of ancient lands — heavy metal parking lot lands where giant inflatable dragons were slain with laser beam swords and guitar solos lasted at least 10 minutes. Ah, smell the hairspray and stale beer!
Like an aging Gandalf, Dio’s world seems unreal — from this remove it’s hard to imagine a time that could spawn songs like “Holy Diver” or “The Last In Line” with a straight face. It’s not an uncomfortable place to inhabit, particularly for we folks whose formative years coincided with Dio’s mid-’80s heyday. But like Masters of the Universe cartoons and Cap’n Crunch cereal, the memory is way better than the reality.
That said, the performances in the concert documented here are solid, and Dio remains in good voice. And while they’re funny sometimes, Dio’s lyrics are still cooler than a lot of what passes for metal these days. It’s not a bad ride, and definitely recommended for the little twerps out there who keep fetishizing the ’80s. All these years later, it still beats leg warmers.
Brian J. Bowe writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.