Dio had a concert yesterday in Tallinn, Estonia. I wanted to go there, but simply hadn't time to do that. So, I started to look for the band around noon, went to a couple of hotels around Helsinki and finally found the place where they were staying. I heard there that Dio'll have a press conference at 2pm, so I stayed there and thanks to Katri from Spinefarm (Dio's Finnish record company), I managed to get to the press conference.
It was _GREAT_ to meet Ronnie and Vinny after many years (the rest of the band weren't at the press conference). They both were very nice and had time for all the questions. At some points during the conference, they were so nice to me that I was probably blushed all through the press conference. Vinny had recovered from his pneumonia, but apparently the Finnish weather was rather cold, as he went to get a sweatshirt.
After the press conference, I was becoming more and more nervous as I wanted to see Dio on stage so badly. I arrived to the venue (Tavastia Club) well before the doors were opened, and I noticed that I wasn't the only one there - there were already dozens of people waiting in the chilly wind and rain.
Time passed slowly, but luckily I met a couple of my friends there so the time started to crawl bit more quickly. Finally the doors were opened and people rushed in. I had some problems with getting in, the tour manager had to come to tell the doorman that he can let me in - no big deal, the doorman is well-known for his behaviour - he doesn't own the Tavastia club, although he acts like he owns it.
We waited there in the bar before the actual venue doors were opened. We waited behind the wrong door, but when the people started to rush in, we managed to get in too before the door was closed. We got the front-row places just in front of Ronnie's mic stand and started to wait anxiously for the show to start.
Time passed and passed, until around midnight the lights went out and the intro tape started to play. YES! This was the moment I had waited for so long, it had been nearly ten years since Dio played in Finland last time! The band arrived on stage and the audience went crazy, I really wasn't the only one who had waited for Dio to come to Finland ;).
The band was in great shape - including Vinny, he was in great shape, no sign of his pneumonia at all! Ronnie's voice was very clear, he once again proved that he is The Singer. Tracy was great too - he hadn't given up his own, unique style - some people have had problems with accepting his playing style, but at least in my opinion, today's Dio couldn't have any better guitarist! His playing fits perfectly in Dio's current musical style and he can play the old songs as well, no matter what people say.
It was the first time for me to see the new bassist Larry "Bones" Dennison on stage - actually, it was my first time to hear his playing except for one live tape from the Angry Machines US tour. I loved his playing too, and he even had a short own intro to Hunter Of The Heart song - this intro evolved to a full-lenght bass solo by the end of the European tour. The keyboardist Scott Warren did have his keyboards on stage this time around, although on the far left side.
Both Tracy and Vinny had their own solos too - the solos resembled quite much the solos heard on the Strange Highways tour, but nevertheless weren't exactly the same. Tracy's solo sounded very "raw" and if you looked at Tracy while he was playing the solo, he and his guitar were almost as one.
To me it was very surprising to hear the whole Catch The Rainbow song. I had read a couple of reviews of the earlier US shows where they played about 30 seconds of the song, but on the European tour they had included the whole Catch The Rainbow song there. Ronnie's voice is so beautiful, it was so soft and peaceful that I almost had a tear in my eye.
After The Last In Line song, the band left the stage and audience started to scream for more. After a short while the band arrived back on stage and did two tracks more. The audience went absolutely nuts during the Mob Rules song that ended the encore, everyone was rocking there and you could easily see how much all of us had waited for Dio to come here.
The show was absolutely brilliant, this was definitely the best show I've ever seen since my first Dio show back in 1987. I don't think anything will ever top that show, anyway, but this came very close second anyway ;).
Track listing of the show:
After the show the tour manager let me go backstage to meet the band. I was going to wait outside the dressing room, but Ronnie asked me to go in. I talked with the band there, everyone had enjoyed the show and said that the audience was absolutely brilliant. The show had been sold out - there were a couple of tickets still left when the doors were opened (quite normal situation for Tavastia Club shows) - so there had been around 1000 people in the audience.
Something funny happened there at backstage, too, as I showed Ronnie my Dio tattoo on my left arm. Ronnie started to laugh and roll up his sleeve saying "hey, look, I've got Tapio tattoo here.." ;). I also heard that the band is going to Sweden on Silja Lines' ferry and I almost went to the travel agency to change my Viking Lines' ticket to Silja to get on the same ferry with them ;)
I had arrived to Stockholm in the morning - rather frustrated, I had to listen to some drunken guy from Tampere, Finland, until I put earplugs in my ears and started to sleep ;). I drove around Stockholm as I had the whole Sunday to kill - it looks like in Stockholm almost every place is closed on Sundays.
I went to the venue (Electric Garden) around 5pm and walked in when the warming-up band, called Original Sin, was putting their instruments together. I talked with them for a while, they told me that they were supposed to play in Finland, too, but as they wouldn't have been able to get in time to Helsinki on the morning ferry, they couldn't make it. The guys in the band were really friendly - half of them were from Los Angeles, USA and the other half from Sweden.
After a while I spotted Dio's personal assistant Willie Fyffe. Ronnie had told me in Helsinki that Willie had had some dental surgery operation a couple of days ago and couldn't come to the first two shows. Willie was very friendly and you could see that he had seen his dentist, is cheek looked bit like a balloon ;).
Anyway, Original Sin started to play around 8pm, if my memory serves, and played a good set - about 40 minutes, I guess. I liked their songs very much, too bad that I hadn't heard them earlier so I didn't know the lyrics. They did a cover of Black Sabbath's Symptom Of The Universe and ended their show with it. They were selling their first CD - I'd have bought it if I'd have had enough money for it with me.
After Original Sin left the stage, the roadies carried their equipment away and, after half an hour or so, it was Dio's time to hit the stage.. The set list was same as in Finland, but nevertheless all the Dio shows are different from each other ;).
The show was again sold-out and you could feel it around you... The place was really packed, and it was _HOT_ there in the front at least. Everyone was really sweating - even my jeans were all wet from top to bottom after the show ;) In the beginning was there in the front in the middle, but after an hour or so, I found myself maybe two metres to left, as two girls next to me fainted (I heard later on that nothing bad happened to them and they followed the rest of the show from the back;).
I went to backstage after the show to talk with the band and to rest a little before starting to drive to Oslo (600-700 kilometres). Afterwards I was told that Glenn Hughes was there at Electric Garden, too, but I managed to miss him totally - I've seen a photo of him taken there in the front of poster advertising the Dio show and I even took that poster with me before leaving the place. Well, maybe some other time, I was really happy after having another chance to talk to Dio members, Wendy and Willie. They're all very, very nice people, I cannot think anything but good about them!
When the band got out, there were maybe 50-100 people waiting outside for autographs. Some of them had dozens of LPs with them. The band went in the bus and signed all the LPs, CDs and whatever the fans had with them - they spent at least hour and a half with signing the stuff! I went to get my car (I had parked it maybe a kilometre away from the venue) and then drove behind the bus to Dio's hotel - I was going to drive behind them to Oslo. However, I noticed that I started to feel rather tired and then started to drive on my own - I drove maybe 350 kilometres and then slept a couple of hours in the car in my sleeping bag at some deserted rest area somewhere in the middle of Sweden.
When I woke up in the morning, it was raining rather heavily and the car wasn't all that warm any more ;). I started to drive towards Oslo and arrived there around 10am. One warning to other travellers - your Visa might not work in Norway, at least my Visa didn't work there. I had some .... um.... interesting situations when I tried to use it - I paid at one gas station near Oslo in Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian cash ;).
...Another funny thing comes to my mind about Oslo - I hadn't been able to take a shower after the sweaty Stockholm show and I probably smelt quite horrible. I went to local swimminghall to take a shower and I noticed there a sauna ;). I went in and I was rather surprised - it wasn't exactly like saunas in Finland ;). It was a huge room with the heaters on one wall and people sitting far away from them. Everyone was wearing shorts and reading books and newspapers there - except that they all started to stare at me when I came in naked and sat down on the benches ;)
...For those readers who don't know what the Finnish saunas are like: they're small rooms, people are there naked and the temperature is around 80-90 deg celcius (~175-195 deg fahrenheit) and people throw water (not their own;) on the heater to get the place bit more warmer.
Anyway, back to Dio stuff. The show was at Rockefeller in downtown Oslo. Rockefeller has two floors, although most of the people seemed to stay in the first floor for the show as far as I could see.
Original Sin started their set after 8pm again and did the same songs as they did in Stockholm previous night. The audience took them better than in Stockholm, although some folks kept yelling "Dio" at them. I personally cannot understand that - if someone doesn't want to support the warming-up band, why he just doesn't keep his - or her! - mouth shut? In my opinion, Original Sin did a good show there in Oslo, too, and people around me seemed to share my opinion.
After the roadies took Original Sin's equipment off from stage, the audience started to wait for Dio. There was a rather drunken couple on my right side, the lady managed to pour at least two or three glasses of beer on people around her, people exactly didn't like that. Oh well.
So, once again the lights went out and Dio came on stage after the intro. The audience greeted them really well, but maybe the fact that the audience were spread in two floors caused the response to be bit less than what I expected - after all, the show was sold out and there were around 1000 people who hadn't seen Dio since 1986! It could've been just my imagination, though, as at least the band seemed to really enjoy the show ;)
On this show, it was rather easy to hear the difference in Larry's Hunter Of the Heart bass intro compared to the intro in Finland - it wasn't exactly bass solo yet, but it was somewhat longer than the original intro anyway ;). I guess it was more or less improvisation, at least the rest of the band were all smiling at Larry when he started to play the actual Hunter Of The Heart song ;).
I wonder what I can say about the show that I haven't said before? ;) Ronnie's voice was excellent, just like everyone's playing was equally excellent, too.. ;) Oh yes, Ronnie spot someone left from me in the audience and kept smiling at her all the time and eventually invited her on stage, too ;). He hugged her on stage and the girl returned back in the audience.. After the show she came to backstage and was crying of joy ;) She told us that she had waited since '86 to see Dio again and that she didn't even remember too much about the '86 show because she was too drunk then... ;)
I talked with the keyboardist Scott Warren quite some time there - it was the first time I really talked that long with him and he told me quite a lot about his background, his interests in music and otherwise, too.. He was really nice guy - he seems to be rather quiet, but when he starts to talk, he is very friendly, interesting person.
I met one friend of mine, Richard, there at Rockefeller, too. He kindly offered me place to sleep for the night, but I had to get to Gothenburg in the night so I couldn't stay at his place. I'd like to use this opportunity to thank his offer, anyway, I really appreciated it!
So, I started to drive towards Gothenburg - or I thought I started to drive there. I made one wrong turn and drove a couple of dozen kilometres before I noticed my mistake. I had a map, but I didn't bother to look at it as I thought I could drive to Gothenburg without it ;). I was once again proven wrong. ;)
I drove over the Swedish border and stopped at some rest area a dozen kilometres south from the border to sleep again for a couple of hours.
I woke up again and drove to Gothenburg. Just before Gothenburg there was a severe storm, it was really difficult to keep the car on the road. Later on I read in Finnish newspapers that several roofs were torn off and trucks were collapsed because of it. Anyway, I started to feel really tired (I had slept maybe four hours in the past two days and droven well over 1000 kilometres) and I found one youth hostel in downtown Gothenburg. I slept there for the day and then rushed to the venue.
The venue was a big bar with the stage on the opposite side of the bar counter. The stage was only about 30 cm higher than the floor and it was really small, too.. So small that the warming-up band hadn't been able to fit their drums on it and therefore couldn't play there (Dio's equipment was always on stage for the whole night).
I walked around the bar and got in the very front of the stage just before the doors were opened. People rushed to the front right away, and fifteen minutes afterwards it was really tight there in the front already. The crashbarrier (thanks for the word, Doug!;) looked like rather weak and I started to be afraid of it breaking up during the show.
So, this time without the warming-up band, Dio hit the stage. I had earlier thought that it was really tight in the front, but now it was really tight. After five minutes the pressure had became so hard that I couldn't breath any more. Willie noticed me having problems and came to lift me from there. Thanks to him and the security guards there I got out in one piece (with 18 bruises all over my body - I counted them after the show;)...
I wasn't the only one who had similar problems, probably two or three dozen people had to be pulled off from the front. The security guards did a great job there, I've never seen so friendly and understanding security guards anywhere. If anyone who reads this knows the people I'm talking about, please do me a favor and give them my thanks.
So, I watched the rest of the show from the left side of the stage. From there one could really notice how low the stage was - only the front row could see the band, people behind the front row couldn't see anything - and the band couldn't see anything but the front row ;). The bar probably cannot do anything to it, because the ceiling is very low too.
Anyway, despite the problems with the crushbarrier - which broke into pieces maybe 15 or 20 minutes after the show started - the show was excellent. The band was again enjoying the show, and as far as I could see in the audience, _everyone_ was throwing their fists in the air and singing along. Also, someone in the front row on the right side of the stage was filming the show on video - everyone in the band noticed it and kept smiling at the camera ;). If someone knows the guy who filmed it, please contact me by e-mail at address firstname.lastname@example.org - I'd really love to obtain the tape!
After the show I went to backstage, as I wanted to spend a couple of minutes with the band and say goodbyes to them. I had a painting of Ronnie with me, my mother painted it and wanted me to give it to Ronnie as she wasn't able to do it herself. I gave it to Ronnie and I talked with him for quite a long time on just about everything - I cannot say anything but that Ronnie is extremely friendly and wise and seems to have time for his fans always. I haven't met anyone as friendly as he is. He even noticed one scratch (from the incident with the crushbarrier) on my neck and wanted to put some cream on it ;)
At some point Wendy came in and told that there were some 2000 people to see the show - it was sold-out show, 1400 tickets were sold and there were 300 guests, too. Also, when the tickets became sold out, a number of people had just crushed in, the doormen couldn't keep them outside ;). The club owner had almost cried during the show and told Wendy that no band hadn't sounded so good, so clear at his club ever before - according to Wendy, the owner was quite a bit more than just happy ;)
So, eventually I had to say goodbyes to the band and the tour crew.. I left the place really happy, the show was great and the band was great on stage and at backstage, too. I was probably smiling all the way to the youth hostel where I was staying and I even had a dream about the show after I went to bed there ;)
So, I returned back to Finland .... and started to want some more after a couple of weeks. A week before the last show on the European tour I reserved plane tickets to London to see the last European show there (my parents had just called me and asked if I'd like to have a trip to somewhere as a birthday present;). So, on
I found myself in London. I waited outside the Astoria Theatre for Dio to arrive - one roadie told me that Dio'll arrive at 5pm. I saw a brown van coming to the back of the venue and ran to it - and Ronnie & Tracy stepped out from it ;). ...And after saying hello Ronnie asked if my neck is OK after the Gothenburg show ;) I went in with Ronnie and Tracy and watched them to do the soundcheck inside. They were a little bit tired after touring a month all across Europe, but nevertheless happy and waiting for the evening's show.
I waited very anxiously the show to start with one 'net friend of mine. A little while before the warming-up band was going to start, I spotted another friend of mine from the audience - Yoko, who had flown all the way from Japan to see the show ;).
The warming-up band, Deadline, played roughly 30 minutes - I cannot remember too much about their show, partly because I was waiting for Dio so anxiously and probably partly because their music didn't do it for me. They played quite standard hard rock.
Eventually Dio came on stage with the familiar intro.. The audience screamed their lungs off and the show started ;). There was no sign of anyone in the band being slightest bit tired and the show was again Excellent with a capital E.
At some point during the tour Tracy had changed his guitar solo a bit - now he had a very beautiful melodic part in the solo too. I really liked the addition, although I liked Tracy's solo before it as well ;) Also, now Larry's intro to Hunter Of The Heart had grown much longer, it was a full bass solo by now. It still looked like he improvised it pretty much - at least his face during the solo suggested this ;).
After the normal encore - Rainbow In The Dark and Mob Rules - Ronnie told us that they've curfew at 11pm and as this was the last show on the tour, they'll play until that. So, they continued playing and played Man On The Silver Mountain, Long Live Rock 'N' Roll and We Rock before they left the stage. It was a great show, definitely worth of flying from Finland ;).
We were directed to the balcony after the show and we were supposed to be picked up from there. However, the local Astoria personnel thought differently and threw us out, even though we had the backstage passes. So, all of us found ourselves standing outside the venue after the show. I met one old friend of mine there who told that it is very common for the Astoria that the personnel there throw everyone out, even if they have the correct backstage passes.
Anyway, despite the very unfriendly personnel, we managed to meet the band after the show as they came out to meet the fans there and sign stuff for us. Everyone of the band was again very friendly and talked with everyone as well as autographed everything people had with them.
Eventually, I had to say goodbyes to the band again, this time for somewhat longer time - this was the last show on the European tour and I cannot afford to fly to States to see them there.. But, they were quite sure that they'll come to Europe in the summer to play at the festivals here, so see you there then!
Before I finish this, I'd like to use this opportunity to give a BIIIIIG thank you to everyone I met during this tour - before and after every show people from the Internet came to say hi and helped me around a lot. I own you a big thank you - you know who you are! I hope to see you again on the next Dio tour here in Europe!
This page is maintained by Tapio Keihänen,
The page has been updated on 10.05.1999
URL: http://www.dio.net/tour/reviews/970221_TapioKeihanen.html, the front page http://www.dio.net/.