There is no doubt at all that Ronnie James Dio was one of Metal's finest singers and his death in May 2010 was mourned throughout the Metal community – so what better way to celebrate his legacy by getting the original Dio band members to reform with a new singer and celebrate the songs that they wrote in the early 1980s.
Last In Line is the brainchild of Vivian Campbell who left the Dio band in 1986 to join Whitesnake, having performed on three successful Dio albums: 'Sacred Heart', 'Last In Line' and the classic 'Holy Diver'.
In the absence of Dio, vocals duties on this particular tour are taken care of by renowned singer Andrew Freeman (who previously sang with Lynch Mob and Hurricane) who has considerable talents but isn't trying to impersonate Ronnie James Dio or sing like him, but has a powerful voice and charisma all of his own.
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There is huge anticipation in the venue as the lights dim and the band come on stage unannounced before going straight into the classic 'Stand Up And Shout'. From the get go, everyone realises how special this gig is and the venue is packed to bursting point.
Drummer Vinny Appice pounds the drum skins with such power that is goes right through your body – I guess that he's more used to playing arenas and with this being their third club gig ever, maybe he's still getting used to playing in such intimate surroundings.
Campbell is obviously loving being such a small stage, as he grins from ear to ear while giving his trusty Gibson Les Paul (serial number 72987537, which he used on the original Dio recordings) a good work out. The first couple of songs are marred slightly with the guitar sound getting lost in the mix, but the sound man is quickly on the case and the issues are rectified easily enough.
Just before kicking off into 'King Of Rock N' Roll', Freeman mentions that the band are "here to celebrate Dio" as the Metal horns are raised for the first time en masse and a loud cheer fills the room followed by chants of "Dio, Dio...".
'Don't Talk To Strangers' rightly gets a huge ovation and the audience are left to sing the beginning on their own without even being asked. Appices drums cut in right on cue whilst keyboard player Claude Schnell (partially hidden off stage such is the nature of this cramped stage) headbangs his way through the track before Campbell pulls out yet another blistering solo.
Slowing the pace slightly is the title track from the band's final album together, 'Sacred Heart', which gives Schnell his moment in the spotlight, and Freeman's vocal capabilities are tested to the limit - a test, which I'm happy to report, he passes with flying colours. 'Evil Eyes' brings the gig back up to speed as bass player Jimmy Bain giggles his way through the number.
'Holy Diver' predictably gets one of the biggest cheers of the evening and the crowd are once again more than happy to help Freeman sing along with every syllable of every word. This is Dio's signature tune, after all, and is treated with such respect by band and audience alike – it's a truly amazing sight to see the song played with these musicians in such an intimate venue whilst the crowd savouring every moment.
'We Rock' comes and goes far too quickly, but with the venue curfew upon the band (it becomes a club later on in the evening) you get the distinct feeling they would like to stay longer, but unfortunately it doesn't happen.
Tonight was about one thing - paying homage to Ronnie James Dio and his music, and you have to stop and wonder what Ronnie would have made of all this. Me? I think that he would have approved.
Stand Up And Shout
Straight Through The Heart
King Of Rock And Roll
Don't Talk To Strangers
Caught In The Middle
Egypt (The Chains Are On)
I Speed At Night
The Last In Line
Shame On The Night
Rainbow In The Dark
Last In Line are:
Andy Freeman – Vocals
Vivian Campbell – Lead Guitar
Jimmy Bain – Bass Guitar
Claude Schnell – Keyboards
Vinny Appice – Drums
Official Website: http://www.lastinlinerocks.com/