© Kevin Cobb
Live Gig Review by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
For a brief period in the eighties and over the course of three albums Dio the man and band stood atop of the rock and metal world.They sold millions of units,graced MTV through their videos,and rocked huge gigs all over the world.Then unfortunately the band fractured amid bitter acrimony both publicly and in the court rooms. Vivian Campbell the N.Irish born guitarist wasn’t shy in denouncing the dictatorship which had deprived both himself and the other band members of deserved financial income on their three album releases.Vivian later then went on record in criticizing the “heavy metal “sound that had given so much pleasure to fans who still had a fond place in their hearts for the three Dio albums that the band released in that period.
When Campbell announced a reunion of the classic era Dio band going back to playing the classic songs on a short tour, it met a mixed response. Fronting the band,was established vocalist Andrew Freeman who had cut his teeth with several veteran bands. The tour was to be brief, and would hit Belfast (Viv’s home) following an initial warm up US date. In recent months Vivian had also announced via social media that he had contacted Hodgkin s Lymph and would be scheduling the select dates around his chemotherapy sessions. I had interviewed Vivian prior to the Live dates and he justified his decision to revisit the Dio albums with the band of musicians who had played on them. It was with keen anticipation that many attended the gig in Belfast. Initially I had been concerned regarding the progress of ticket sales prior to the show. However my worries proved unfounded as the venue (where ironically Dio had played on the 2006 Holy Diver tour)was packed to almost maximum capacity.
Following a support set by local rock stalwarts Sweet Savage,which actually once featured Vivian Campbell before he went to the US.Expectation levels were high for Last In Line, many were curious particularly regarding Andrew Freeman’s ability to deliver those classic songs. Fortunately I had been fortunate to witness part of the sound check which had raised the hairs on the back of my neck with their pure quality.
Last in Line
© Kevin Cobb
With not one but actually two living legends present how could it really fail. Jimmy Bain formerly of Rainbow and Vinnie Appice of Sabbath were as tight a rhythm section as their experience dictated. Claude Schnell a hairy giant colossus lightly sprinkling deft and subtle flavours of melody over the classic tunes. Andrew Freeman wrapped a dynamic and powerful vocal around the songs, not overly Dio-esque but retaining an element of individuality. However all eyes were on local boy made good Vivian.Bereft of his trademark locks with his ongoing treatment Viv looked energetic, fresh and fired with enthusiasm. It was a total listening pleasure to revisit those classic songs with the band who had made them both in the studio and on the world stages. I think his guitar playing really surprised many present as I don’t think that his talent is maximized playing in Def Leppard .
Track listing featured just from the three releases, Holy Diver, Last In Line and two from the Sacred Heart opus. All were instantly recognizable by a passionate audience who shouted, sang and rocked out heatedly. Feedback was universally hugely positive, and general consensus was that many believed it was simply the best gig that they had attended in some time. Interviews with Vivian,Vinnie and Jimmy had indicated that following this short tour they would be hoping to do more shows. When I probed further regarding the possibility of new material from the band answers were not as forthcoming . A cynical attempt to cash in on Dios legacy had been the accusation. On this showing this was just so much more than that,a band of legendary musicians revisiting their own songs and paying spiritual and respectful homage to their former leader. It was incredible, and I and the people that were equally fortunate to witness it would certainly relish a revisiting of Last In Line to our shores.
When he left Black Sabbath in early 1982 to form his own band, the late, great Ronnie James Dio took powerhouse Sabbath drummer, Vinny Appice with him.
Ronnie knew that he wanted a European flavour to balance-out the band, so he asked his former Rainbow bandmate and Scottish native, bassist Jimmy Bain to join him. In turn, Jimmy recommended a young Irish guitarist, Vivian Campbell to complete the line-up. When the four of them met and played for the first time in a North London rehearsal room in September 1982, the magic was evident and the the classic Dio band line-up was born.
Between 1983 and 1985, in quick succession, that line-up wrote, recorded and toured the first three Dio albums. Widely considered to be the crown jewels of the Dio catalogue, Holy Diver, Last In Line and Sacred Heart went on to sell millions as the band, now reinforced by keyboard player, Claude Schnell, played to audiences worldwide.
By 1985, however, trouble was brewing and the fabric of the band had started to unravel. Begining with Vivian Campbell’s firing during the Sacred Heart tour, one by one the other original band members left the fold and slowly the magic was lost.
30 years after the recording of Holy Diver, and without trying to replace the singular sound that was Ronnie’s voice, the original band have started playing the songs they created together again. Joined by the passionate, powerful and unique voice of vocalist Andy Freeman, Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain and Claude Schnell have united under the name of their classic album, Last In Line, to perform and tour their original songs again.
When any group of musicians write and record together, they create a sound that becomes uniquely theirs. Last In Line brings to life those early, classic Dio albums in a way that only they know how. In a way that only they can.