The Dio Hologram has well and truly divided opinion throughout the Metal community with a backlash of negativity prominent from many who condemned before they had even seen a Dio Returns show.
Words: Steve Göldby
Photograph: Steve Ritchie
Of course, a large majority of those critics will never go and see a Dio Returns show which renders their comments somewhat invalid, while those who did make the effort experienced something unique and possibly a glimpse into the future of rock’n’roll.
The atmosphere before the band took to the stage was reminiscent of a real Dio gig; not many bands can produce that sense of heightened anticipation before the intro tape rolls and here the feeling was exactly as it used to be when we would await the great man himself to take the stage.
Deep Purple’s ‘Perfect Strangers’ was the choice of intro and despite having only a tenuous connection to Ronnie James Dio, it worked well, the lyrics resonating and perfectly setting the scene.
He was, to millions, the King of rock’n’roll and when he first appeared, a sense of awe filled the hall. Whether there out of curiosity, defiance or to offer genuine support, the ‘wow’ factor was huge as a packed Academy had it’s collective breath taken away when Ronnie’s image took to the stage.
It took a couple of songs before the audience fully came to terms with what they were witnessing as the Hologram mesmerised and cast it’s spell on the Academy.
But despite it’s ability to captivate and provide a supernatural-esque nostalgia, there is work to be done before the Hologram is the complete article. If you managed to get a centre stage viewpoint, it was reasonably convincing but from the sides, not so much so as its ‘frame’ is too visible and Ronnie is singing from behind the band, both factors making him appear completely detached from his bandmates but on the other hand, giving him an exalted, heavenly presence.
The band, formerly Dio Disciples, are on top form and former Judas Priest and Iced Earth frontman Ripper Owens seems to have found his home at last, putting in exemplary performances on these classic numbers. Bass player Bjorn Englen dealt with early difficulties professionally and without turning a crisis into a drama while Simon Wright dug deep to show exactly why he is considered one of the very best in the business. But guitarist Craig Goldy is the star of the show as his impeccable playing and assured demeanour do total justice to his standing in the Dio family tree.
Wendy Dio remarked after the show that this was “done with love”, and surely even the fiercest critics of this new innovation cannot argue with that.
Ronnie is, unfortunately, not coming back but the Hologram will be, and hopefully it will be carrying the legacy of the greatest Heavy Metal singer of all time into a new era and to a new generation.
King Of Rock And Roll
The Mob Rules
Straight Through The Heart
The Last In Line/Holy Diver
Egypt (The Chains Are On)
Guitar Solo (Craig Goldy, with Bjorn Englen)
Catch The Rainbow
Heaven And Hell
Man On The Silver Mountain
Heaven And Hell (reprise)
Rainbow In The Dark