Dio’s August show in Detroit at the DTE Center was stellar as usual! Even though they were again limited by time constraints due to their opening slot on the recent Iron Maiden tour, they still packed a punch and made the very most of their set. Dio has again made the wise decision of signing on to another major arena/shed package tour, ensuring him far greater exposure. I’m sure that when these bigger audiences see how good and how still relevant Dio (the man and the band) are, the ones who may have drifted from fan status, will return when the next headlining Dio tour comes to town.
The setlist seems to have changed quite a bit throughout this tour for Dio, surprising many die-hard fans with older catalog rarities. This show was no different. The set opened with the title track from Dio’s latest studio album Killing The Dragon. This was followed by Rainbow’s favorite Stargazer! This is the first time this song has been featured in a Dio set since the 1990’s Lock Up The Wolves tour. A great surprise indeed!! Another rarity was the song Dream Evil which hasn’t been featured since 1988!! The reason for its inclusion was the second return of guitarist Craig Goldy to the band. Unfortunately, material from 1987’s Dream Evil and 1990’s Lock Up the Wolves only get played when the guitarists who originally played on the albums (Craig Goldy and Rowan Robertson respectively) are actually in the band! So each time Craig returns at least we get to hear some Dream Evil stuff! It’s a shame that L.U.T.W. isn’t quoted from since classics like Hey Angel and Wild One would be great additions to Dio’s setlist. Rowan has yet to return, so I wonder if this will ever happen.
The rest of the set featured standards such as Stand Up and Shout, Holy Diver, and Rainbow in the Dark. Rock and Roll from the Killing the Dragon was also leftover from last year’s tour. The album could be better represented than by this lengthy mid-tempo number, possibly by Along Comes a Spider. And again, I complain that a drum solo is really a waste of time especially when 5 minutes is as valuable as it is in an opening slot like this.
Let’s get down to the performance! Ronnie James Dio is very simply a living legend. This guy doesn’t age! Physically or more importantly vocally! His voice sounded even better than last year! He is by far the most consistent rock vocalist I have ever seen or heard (and I have been going to see him since 1982’s Mob Rules tour). I have heard him sound better at times than others, but never have I heard him have a bad night or even a mediocre night! Ronnie is truly great. And I don’t mean it in a “For his age” kind of way either!! Just an exceptionally gifted and well-preserved vocal talent and this show at the DTE Energy Center was yet another testament to his greatness. Other than Goldy replacing last year’s touring guitarist Doug Aldrich, the Dio lineup remained the same. Both Goldy and Drummer Simon Wright got lengthy solo spots in the set. In some ways (like getting to hear Dream Evil) Craig Goldy’s return was welcome as he is a very good player, but in some ways, Doug Aldrich was missed. Aldrich proved to be a very worthy successor to any of the Dio guitar hero’s in past line-ups and it’s a shame his tenure was so short-lived. One thing from the setlist that was missing (possibly for the first time in almost thirty years!) was the Rainbow classic Man On The Silver Mountain! Personally, I have heard it more than enough, so leaving it out for one tour was kind of refreshing, but I’m sure the more casual fans might have been disappointed! Ronnie has really gone out of his way, it seems, to keep his setlists updated and fresh. Especially in the last few years, he seems to make sure that his song selection holds both the classic hits as well as some rarities to please the long-time hard core fans as well as the more “surface” listeners. He is a fan favorite and this is one of the many reasons why. Many bands claim to love their fans with the cliche mantra “If it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t be here”. Well, Dio goes to great lengths personally, professionally, and musically to live by this code, and prove to his fans year after year that they are his true priority! I can only hope we get another headlining tour this fall!