On Sunday night, November 4th, I went to see the Dio Disciples band in Dallas. It was in a really small club named Trees. I say small, because it’s really the kind of place that’s meant for local bands. I mean this was SMALL small. When I saw Black Sabbath on the Cross Purposes tour in 1994 in Dallas, it was at a place called “The Bomb Factory”. I thought that place was small. I was wrong. Trees is about half the size of that. The flip side of a venue of that size is that you can see bands in an extremely intimate setting. That worked out well, as you could get close, really get into the show – and be extra deafened due to your proximity to the speakers. :)
Before the Show
I went with my usual concert going friend Steve, and we got downtown a bit early. The doors were scheduled to open at 7PM. My tickets were at Will Call, since they came from Wendy Dio’s office, and I was told they weren’t going to be there until 8. Given we got there so early, we decided to hang out at a local burger joint a couple of blocks over called “Angry Dog“. If you’re ever in Deep Ellum in Dallas, check ’em out. It’s a pretty good burger. There’s another excellent burger joint a few doors down from there called “Twisted Root Burger Co“. But I’m getting sidetracked.
After the burger hangout, we walked over to Trees, and saw what I presume was the Dio tour bus out front. Trees is a small place as I said, but click on this link, and you’ll see what the front of the place looks like. The tour bus took up pretty much the entire front of the place. Hard to see much else. Got our tickets from Wendy Dio’s office, so they were comped. We picked up our will call tickets at the tiny box office window you can see in the picture of the front of the page and then went in. I looked around, and Trees is one of these no seats, standing only places. Due to the size, it wasn’t a big problem. There were plenty of tables and stools around, and a few in an upper level, so it was most certainly an intimate affair for sure. There was a bar in the middle of the back area, and off to the side in the back were a few TV’s, which were showing the Giants / Cowboys game. During some of the opening acts, folks seemed more interested in the televisions, to be honest. Also in the back was the merch area. There was a larger merch area for Dio Disciples, and then a table that was shared between the other bands. I chatted with the fellow from the Dio booth a bit, as well as some other folks, and my friend. Basically killing time until the shows started.
One interesting thing. I didn’t know there was an opening band when I came down. I admit, because my tickets weren’t bought – I didn’t think to look that up. Then I get down there, find out there’s two opening bands. What’s amusing about that is the concert advert from Trees not only listed just one, but they spelled it wrong! That being Witchburn. Trees’ advert called ’em “withburn”. Another thing about Trees I noticed was that they were promoting the upcoming concert by Geoff Tate’s version of Queensryche at the moment. They had three different names for it on the video screen, in a poster on the wall, and via a card handout. Yeesh. So, OK, I found out during the first band there were actually FOUR bands playing tonight. The first one went on at 8PM promptly, and I found out that Dio Disciples came on at 10:30. So it was a long night. Sadly, I forgot my earplugs. At 47, I need to protect what hearing I have left from a quarter centry of metal concerts. Forgot them. I’m paying for that now. :)
Band 1: Blackout
[ Blackout Website ]
To be honest, I didn’t know anything about any of the three opening bands before tonight. The first one though I knew beforehand as “the local band”. They came on stage, and started playing, and I’d be a liar if I said I knew any of their tracks, but by the end of their (short) set, I was into it. They had a presence that I liked. Kind of felt like a classic hard rock party band. They seemed like the kind of band that you could sit around and drink a beer with. The kind of band that if you bought them a beer, they’d play more. :) Seriously though, the riffs were good, singing was good, and by the end, I kind of wished they didn’t have to get offstage. But with three bands needing to play in the span of about 2.5 hrs, they weren’t playing that long. I’d definitely go see these guys again if the opportunity arose for sure.
Band 2: Creeper
Creeper screamed a lot. Next.
Band 3: Witchburn
I didn’t know anything about Witchburn, either. However, with the name alone, I thought it would be some sort of gothic type deal. Quite frankly, as the next to last band, they’d play the longest of the three openers, and after having sat through the sonic overload that was Creeper, I was worried we’d have another hour of the same kind of thing. They opened the curtains, and I saw this. I’m like – Hey, two women in the band. This will be different. I always like women in rock, as well, I’m a guy, so watching a cute woman is always up there on the list of things to do. When they can rock like that? So much the better.
Then they played. This band was hot. The singer as you can see if you look at my pictures has a jeans and T-Shirt vibe. So much so, she was wearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-Shirt while she was singing at this gig. Just seeing the Skynyrd shirt before hearing any music was cool, because you know if someone’s wearing a shirt like that, we’re not likely to hear music like well, Creeper. Speaking of Creeper, if you look at the Witchburn pictures, you’ll see their drummer was using Creeper’s kit. I asked the singer from Witchburn after their set about that, and she told me there was some time issue with equipment, and they couldn’t get their own stuff up in time, so they just played the other band’s kit.
This was a band I liked a lot. As with the other openers, I didn’t know jack about them before tonight, but when they were done, I was definitely into it. Their sound was great, and the guitarist had some great riffing going on. DEFINITELY hope to see them some more. Really liked them. Don’t know any song titles, don’t know anything like that. Just a stream of good hard rock, enjoyed that an awful lot. CLEARLY the best of the three openers.
Also, afterwards, the band hung out at the merch table, and sold their own merch. I went back, talked to them a bit, told them I liked their show, and then promptly forgot to pick up a copy of their CD, which I realized when I was back at my car after the gig. Darnit. If the girls from Witchburn happen to see this, I’m the guy who wore a blue Hawaiian shirt, and talked to you between gigs. I was’t lying when I said I ran the Sabbath site and would say some nice stuff about ya. :)
Band 4: Dio Disciples
So we finally get to Dio Disciples. The reason we’re all here. Now most of these guys I’ve seen before, either in Dio proper, or elsewhere. The lineup that took the stage on Sunday night was:
- Tim Owens – Vocals
- Oni Logan – Vocals (as well)
- Craig Goldy – Guitar
- Simon Wright – Drums
- Bjorn Anglund – Bass
- Scott Warren – Keyboards
Goldy, Wright, & Warren I’d seen in previous Dio concerts. Tim Owens I’ve never seen live before, but I’ve seen videos of, and of course I know him from his time in Judas Priest. Oni Logan I’d seen live once before – back on the Magica tour, when Lynch Mob opened for Dio, oddly enough. Bjorn was a total unknown to me. I know Rudy Sarzo is off in the rogue version of Queensryche fronted by Geoff Tate at the moment, so he isn’t involved. Oddly enough, that version of Queensryche will be on the same stage in Dallas in about two weeks. :) Would have liked to have seen Sarzo again, but oh well. Jeff Pilson was off doing the “Dokken without Don Dokken” band. Also couldn’t have Jimmy Bain, as word is he’s been arrested again recently for DUI, and is obviously unavailable. Bjorn was here, and he’s known for the Yngvie Malmsteen band. So that’s the band.
If you follow the Twitter feed for this site, you would have noticed that I was tweeting all night from the show. I had a handful of posts and pictures for each of the three openers, but for Dio Disciples, I was posting each song as they started, along with a picture of the band during the playing of that song. At least until the end of the gig, when Twitter throttled me for posting too many pictures in too short a period of time. I also came close to not finishing – when I walked out the door of Trees, the power level on my iPhone was at 1%. :) So anyway, given I tweeted about it, if you go back and look, you can get the set list from there, but here’s what they played:
- Killing the Dragon
- Holy Diver
- Egypt (The Chains are On)
- The Last in Line
- Stand Up & Shout
- Don’t Talk to Strangers
- Lord of the Last Day
- All the Fools Sailed Away
- Catch the Rainbow
- Kill the King
- As Long as It’s Not About Love
- The Mob Rules
- Long Live Rock & Roll
- Man on the Silver Mountain
- Heaven & Hell
- This is Your Life (First Encore)
- Rainbow in the Dark
- We Rock
Quite a career setlist. With the legacy of music Ronnie has been associated with, unless you play like five hours, it’ll be darned near impossible to cover everything everyone wants to. For me personally, I would have liked to have heard them play “King of Rock & Roll”, but they didn’t. That’s fine. They covered the bulk of the Dio albums, got songs from Black Sabbath & Rainbow. Was a good set list. “As Long as It’s Not About Love” was a bit of an odd choice, but again – I’m not picking the set list. :)
I don’t know what the size of the venues are on the rest of the tour, but if they’re like Trees in Dallas, they’re quite small as I said before. This means you’re that much closer to the speakers, and this 47 year old needs to save what’s left of his hearing. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my earplugs, so I paid for it a lot on Monday. Could barely hear anything. I mean that seriously, because these guys played LOUD. Maybe cuz it was a small club it seemed louder, but I don’t recall them playing that loud before. That loudness was evident for all four bands, so it could be a venue thing.
The band was tight. Given most of them have played before this for some time, that should not be a surprise.
Of note was was Simon Wright. I’ve seen him play several times before, and while he’s a pro, and he’s a good drummer – he seemed to have an especially good show tonight. There’s no single piece of text I can really write to make you think what I was thinking when I saw him – you would have had to have seen it. But he seemed to this concert goer to have a great nice – played hard, didn’t notice any fluffs or anything like that. Great night for Simon for sure.
Craig is also hard to figure out there. He’s like Ian Hill of Judas Priest. Just kind of stands there. Doesn’t do much except play his instrument. Kind of a “pillar” if you will. But he played well too (which I suppose is the ultimate point) – I even saw him smile once or twice, which is a big deal for ol’ stoneface over there. :) Also, the stage was tiny, there really wasn’t a ton of room to move around and do things, either.
As I said earlier about Bjorn – I don’t know jack about him. But like the rest of the band, seemed solid. I won’t have much to say about him, because I have no frame of reference for him not ever having seen him before. But he held it down well.
Scott Warren is odd to me. I made a mistake when I saw Heaven & Hell in 2008 and blocked his view of the drummer, which is where he took his cues from being offstage and all. I went to apologize to him after the gig, and he just wanted to blow me off. OK fine, you could at least pay attention when I’m trying to apologize. He also has an almost comical style of playing keyboards with grand hand gestures and whatnot that seem to belittle his skill at playing the instrument. He can obviously play, but his playing style is something that I have a hard time taking seriously at times.
That brings us to the dual vocalists. I inquired about “why two vocalists”? Wendy’s comment was something like “One singer will never be enough to replace Ronnie”. Yeah, OK – but why, really? That kind of comment just makes me think someone doesn’t want to answer the question. Dio was a spectacular vocalist – we all know that. But it doesn’t really answer the question as to why they have two guys. There’s nothing really WRONG with the concept. I just want to know why. That’s all. Tim Owens has some SERIOUS pipes on him. Seeing him live was something. He had no waver, no hesitation, he belted it, with a strength and power that was great to behold. And unlike some guys who think that screaming or whatnot is a way to show power in vocals (hello Creeper), he sang with power. That was really nice to see. Same goes for Oni Logan. While he didn’t have the epic blast capability that Owens does, he’s no slouch himself. They traded off – not quite song by song, but most songs were sung by one of them. Some (I’d say about 25% or so) were sung by both which was interesting – they’d trade off verses. While I still admit to not “getting” the concept of two vocalists (mostly in the why of it), it worked well in concert.
A few wrap up thoughts
A few words about the Dio Disciples themselves. I’ve seen it posted online that some people don’t agree with the concept of the band, because they’re going around playing Ronnie’s songs like that. I disagree with that. Ronnie’s death was sad yes – but should that really stop his band from playing together? No, and if they’re going to play together, they have to play something. Most of them were there with Ronnie for awhile – even wrote or co-wrote some of the songs played. I’d say that gives them a “right” if you will to be able to do this. We’d also never get to see these songs done live anymore if this band didn’t exist (the other two versions with Campbell/Appice & Robertson aside). So I rather enjoyed this concert. In my opinion, short of Ronnie rising from the dead, this is a good substitute. It was a tight band, playing a bunch of songs I liked. On top of that, the ticket in Dallas was just $16. That’s a low cost for as much live music as you got, and especially the Dio material to boot.
These guys are on tour through the month of November, if they’re coming to where you are, and you were EVER a fan of Dio (the band), or Dio (in Sabbath or Rainbow), go check it out. It’s a small, intimate gig, it’s a cheap concert ticket in 2012, and you’ll have fun. What’s not to like about that? I recommend this show. Just don’t forget earplugs.
Finally, what I’d like to see is this band get together in a studio and record something. Perhaps they will, there’s been talk of Wendy having them revisit the work that Ronnie had done towards Magica II & III. Or original creations. Either way, I’d like to see them carry on.
Oh, almost forgot to mention this. I took a ton of pictures as you can see. I have a few selected ones in this review, but if you want to see the entire photo gallery, visit this link over on Google+. It has all 48 pictures I posted. Thanks for reading, and if you happened to be AT this show, please let me know.
Saw this video posted by someone else who was at the gig, of Dio Disciples doing “Heaven & Hell”. Check it out: