Dio concert review; April 8th, 1997 by Sam Naugler

The following is a review of a Dio show of the third US leg of the Angry Machines, originally published at http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Alley/8801/dio.html.

From: Sam Naugler (A174CCR@SEMOVM.SEMO.EDU)
Subject: I met DIO!!!
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997

I saw the absolute best concert of my entire life at Pop's Annex in Sauget, Illinois on Tuesday night (April 8, 1997.)

Sauget is a tiny little industrial/bar town that is about 2 minutes from downtown St. Louis. Actually there is quite a nice view of the skyline from there (arch and all) but the town itself is rather dingey (and dangerous actually, it is a part of the infamous "East St. Louis") and survives because Illinois has a bit looser environmental laws (there are smoking factories every 100 yards) and looser drinking laws (a bar can be opened 24 per day) than Missouri (which is just across the river.)

It was a perfect environment in which to see Dio!

I conned my friends into leaving Cape Girardeau at 2:00 in the afternoon and we made it to St. Louis by 4:00. Unfortunately we got caught in a traffic jam once we got there, so we didn't actually make it to Pop's until 5:00.

We met some friends and went into the bar. It was kind of a cold day (a bit late in the year to be so cold) so we were happy that Pop's is opened 24 hours and we wouldn't have to wait outside all afternoon.

We went in, the bar was nearly empty except for roadies who were running around, doing a soundcheck, etc... (and a few old regulars at the bar who were making the typical Mid-West America comments about long hair and rock-n-roll, "...that there is one of them hippies, oh man, the hair is going to be flying tonight, there is a band coming here, it's that devil stuff... say is that a boy or a girl?" - but you get used to that here, and nobody was bothered.)

Slowly, more and more people started to arrive, and at 6:30 they told us all that we had to go outside for 10 minutes and come back in (bearing tickets, and for the search.) There was a "Sold Out" sign taped to the door and before they let us back in they announced that there were absolutely no more tickets, so if you didn't have one you might as well go home. (Of course we had had ours for months, so in we went.)

We had to go through a metal detector, and I think that we all set the thing off, but the security guy was distracted so my buddy Scott made it through with his recorder.

As soon as we walked back in I headed for the stage.

Most of the people coming in were just sitting down at the bar or at the tables, but I grabbed the front and center spot, and my fiancee Tina, and our friends April and Scott, Kevin and Brenda, and Mike all got beside me on the left.

There was a small group of fans gathered at my right, but for the most part, for the first hour or so, people coming in just looked at us like we were crazy for standing there with so few people in the bar.

We took turns going to the bathroom and guarding our spots. And slowly the crowd began to arrive. And what had looked like it was going to be a tiny crowd in fact turned out to be a more than sold out show. I had asked when I bought the tickets what the capacity was and the guy told me that it was "600 or 700" people.

I was talking to the guy standing next to me about Black Sabbath and Dio. He had noticed my "Black Sabbath Fan Club Deutschland T-Shirt" and was quizing me on facts. Actually he was quite a knowlegable fan and we made friends (which is always a wise thing to do when you are in the front row standing next to a guy who is six feet tall and could crunch you out of your spot in a heartbeat.)

As we were talking he told me that he was over by the T-Shirt stand and someone had said to "that blonde lady" "Hey Wendy" and he wanted to know if it was Wendy Dio.

I told him that I didn't know what Wendy looked like, but Brenda (one of my group) overheard us and said, "Which one is Wendy?" And we told her and she said, "I'll go ask her if you want." (Brenda is kind of crazy that way.)

Off she went, and when she came back, she said that it was definately Wendy.

I had stuffed my "Angry Machines" CD cover into my back pocket along with a pen (just in case.) And so I nudged Tina and pleaded a little and begged and conned and dared her to go and ask for Wendy's autograph and she finally said "Okay" and off she went.

And sure enough, she came back with a "Wendy Dio" autograph! Josh had sent someone from his group for one too and when Tina told me that Wendy had said, "This is so weird - everybody asking for MY autograph!" and said that she seemed really happy to sign it.

By about 8:00 there were at least 600 people in the bar. It was starting to get crowded, but for the most part, the people seemed to prefer sitting on the balcony or at the bar and no-one was really trying to steal our front row spots.

We saw that the security guys were deciding who was to stand in what spot and I jokingly asked that the shortest one stand in front of us. Tina, Brenda, and April all picked up my lead and managed to convince "Taco" (as he later introduced himself -- good to make friends with a big guy who has been paid to beat you up if you get out of line) to stand in front of our spot (hey, three girls all saying, "We want you over here!" - I'd have done the same thing!)

All of a sudden my new friend Josh says, "Hey, is that Vinny over there?"

There was no backstage or dressing room in this bar. There was only an exit door next to the stage which they had blocked off and through which the roadies were coming and going.

It was dark in there but we determined that it was him and Brenda (one of my friends) overheard us and said,

"Give me your pen and your CD cover and I will get it signed for you."

I thought to myself, "Yeah right, they are going to clobber her if she tries to get back there - but what the hell." I wasn't giving-up my spot to go and get clobbered - so I gave her the CD cover.

Ten seconds later I am leaning over the metal gate barracade looking over there, and Brenda is standing there talking to Vinny Appice.

I told Tina "please hold my spot right here - guard it with your life!" And off I went. What had happened was that the security guy that was supposed to be sitting there letting only the roadies through had left his post. I simply moved his chair out of my way and BAM I was shaking hands with Vinny Appice.

By then Brenda had run back to our spot so I didn't even have anything for him to sign (he had already signed my CD cover) so I told him that I was a big fan and so forth and he chatted with me for a bit and said that I should stick around after the show (at the bus) and Ronnie would meet me.

Vinny was very nice and very corgial, if not a little soft spoken. He looked a bit sick or tired though. When we were trying to determine if it was really him or not, I didn't think so because I didn't know that he has short hair now.

So I went back to my spot and Tina wasn't having any trouble guarding it so I told her to hold on again and I went to the T-Shirt stand and met Wendy - just to say hello.

We stood, we talked, we waited. The crowd got bigger and bigger and finally poured on to the dance floor as 9:00 approached.

The security guard in front of us was told that there were 950 people in the bar (that was only to hold 600 or 700 people, so the place was quite packed.)

Some more guys behind me noticed my T-Shirt and asked about joining the fan club (I gave them all of the relevant information) and others quized me about Ray Gillen trivia and Glenn Hughes and Jeff Fenholt, and I even met a Tony Martin fan.

Finally, we looked over, and Dio walked in through the side door. The crowd along the front (the ones who could see him) seemed really mellow about it, so I started yelling for him and giving him "the sign" and he looked over and gave me a thumbs up and a "sign" and a big smile and a couple of minutes later they took the stage.

They opened with "Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost" which just happens to be one of my favorite Dio songs and I was dead center in front of the stage. Tina was right behind me (I told her before the show that she could get in front of me when she wanted to - but since the crowd was very mellow - no shoving or anything - she decide that right behind me was fine.)

Dio seems to (perhaps unconciously) sing his newer material more with his eyes closed than with the rest of the stuff. I guess that it is because not too many people will know the words and sing them with him, so he doesn't want to look at a bunch of blank faces.

But that is not the case with me.

I knew the words.

And by about half way through the first song, Dio, looking around, noticed that I was singing along with him (I was probably the only one in the whole bar - or at least the only one that he could see.)

He came right over to me and gave me another smile and a thumbs-up and practically finished the song just for me! And that just set the stage for the rest of the show.

He absolutely could not have given me "the sign", given me the "thumbs up", smiled at me, winked at me, looked me right in the eyes when he sang, more times. I felt like I was the only one at the show.

He was really good to all of us in the front row. He pointed out each of us during the show, gave us all "the sign" and eye contact repeatedly throughout the show. And especially me!

The next song was "Straight Through the Heart" and then "Don't Talk to Strangers" and about half way through that song he noticed my T-Shirt (which has a huge Mob Rules era print of the Black Sabbath cross with a hand giving "the sign" coming out of it.)

Let me just pause to say that my "Black Sabbath Fan Club Deutschland" T-Shirt might be the best investment that I have ever made! Lots of fans noticed it and wanted to talk to me, and even Ronnie himself noticed it.

He tugged on his T-Shirt and pointed at mine and gave me a big thumbs-up.

The next song was "Holy Diver" and the crowd was doing great through all of that material. But personally, I was waiting for the "Angry Machines" material so that I could show off my fanship by knowing all of the words.

Then they did "Double Monday" and of course I had the lyrics down, and again Ronnie did the song for me! It was the coolest thing.

He noticed that the guy behind me had a Black Sabbath cross necklace and Ronnie showed that he was wearing one too!

The show went on, I don't remember the exact order of the set list, all I can tell you is that it was a brilliant show. Ronnie was all over the vocals - they were just perfect.

I have some Black Sabbath boots where he is having bad nights (which are still excellent - they are "bad" only in comparison to other Ronnie James Dio performances.) But he was definately "on" at this show, and seemed to be having a great time -- I like to feel responsible for that - since I was singing along to the new material (but of course, he might have just eaten his favorite dinner or gotten his tax refund too.)

When he got to "Hunter of the Heart" he headed straight for me to make sure that I knew the lyrics - and it is my favorite from the album, so there we were again, me and Ronnie doing the whole song, "signing" each other.

He would speak to me on the newer songs - well, mouth words like "Thank you" and so forth during solos - I mean it was like I was the only one there!

Later in the show Ronnie threw a little picture of himself to Brenda. She caught it and got my pen and handed it back to him - he crawled over his monitor to get to her to sign it!

For his consideration, Brenda rewarded Dio by showing him her breasts - which he seemed to appreciate (smiling a full smile and being sure to give her a couple of lines of "Catch the Rainbow!")

Tina caught two picks from the bass player. He did his solo before "Hunter of the Heart" and it was a full fledged solo - everyone left the stage and everything.

I think that you will hear a lot more from this guy. I have never actually seen a bass solo performed - but it was amazing!

Tracy G's solo was okay. I didn't pay much attention to him during the songs, but his actual solo went off okay. I am not much into guitar solos (more of a break for me) but it seemed like it was more chords than anything though he did go into "Give Her the Gun" a bit and I was hoping that they would do that song (further showing my knowledge of the newer lyrics) but otherwise I didn't think that it was so bad.

Before the show I had heard a roadie say that it was going to be about 120 decibles, so I guess that Tina can shriek at 125 - because with her head right on my left shoulder she was rattling my ear drum for the whole show!

When Dio started "Last in Line" Tina asked if she could get in front of me and so up she came - for the nice slow intro - but when Ronnie got to "HHHOOOOOOOMMMMMMEEEEE" she turned around and said "Okay, let me behind you" - sort of funny.

Towards the end of the show people were following in Brenda's footsteps and handing stuff up to Ronnie to sign. He was signing something for Josh and I leaned over with my CD cover and he motioned like he couldn't sign it and then he glanced up and saw that it was me and nodded his head and mouthed, "For you, of course I will sign it" and signed my CD cover!

After that, Scott managed to hand-up the CD cover that he had brought in (I had suggested that it might be worth a try) and when Dio saw that it was an Elf CD he went "WOW" (though not into the microphone.) He obviously wanted to sign it well (not scribble) and since he had a verse coming up, he set the CD on one of Vinny's drums, but then I guess he thought that Vinny might hit it so he took it off (Vinny tried to tell him that it would be okay there) and he set it on his monitor until the end of the song when he crouched down and signed it and gave it back to (a very excited) Scott.

I swear that was the best concert ever.

The crowd wasn't shoving or anything. Only when he said that it was the last song ("Last in Line") did they start up, but even then it wasn't very rough and "Taco" (our friendly security guard) was anxious to protect his new friends (the girls from our party) and so he jumped-up on the gate and forced the crowd off of us.

It seemed to be pretty easy to subdue the crowd. Tina and Mike and I have a running joke about Ozzy. Anytime we are in a crowded situation (like a restaurant or store) we say, "Oh we'll get there - we'll just Ozzy our way in." (And we are talking about all of the pushing, shoving, and madness that we have encountered near the front of the Ozzy concerts that we have seen.)

But this crowd was great, and "Taco" did a great job protecting us (if you know him, thank him.)

Dio did three encores for us! (I like to think that I had a little something to do with that.) The first was "Rainbow in the Dark" and "Mob Rules" and the second was "Man on the Silver Mountain" and "Long Live Rock and Roll" and the third was "We Rock."

Unfortunately security noticed Scott's recorder after about the fifth song and despite his pleas they took his tape (but at least they let him keep the recorder.)

At the end Dio came down off of the stage and shook hands with us all and signed stuff and said hello. It was COOL! Afterwards we headed straight outside. By now it was very cold (and we were wet with sweat.)

We went to the car and I got my coat and my "Mob Rules Tourbook", "Bloody Sabbath" bootleg LP, "London Hammersmith Odeon" boot LP, "Live Murder Act I & II" boot CD, "Revivescence" boot CD, "Europe 1993" boot CD, and my "Neon Nights" boot CD. All of which I had brought (and a bunch more - that I just didn't feel like wrestling with when the time came) just in case. (Oh, I grabbed my "TV Crimes" 12" single too.)

We went up and stood next to the bus but security tried to run us off saying that Ronnie was already gone and that he wasn't going to be signing any records tonight.

We stayed back a few paces. Hey, who are you going to believe, some pudwacker local security guy or Vinny Appice (he told me to be there.) A line formed with about 50 people (we were like 10th) and about 45 minutes after the show Ronnie appeared on the steps of the bus and started signing stuff and talking to everyone in turn!


Tina was in front of me in line and, as soon as the person in front of her left, Ronnie saw her and said, "Hey, you were in the front!" and then he looked at me and said, "Hey, you too! You are the one who knew all of the lyrics!"

No sh*t, he said that! I was like WOW WOW WOW - I am not just another fan - I have an identity - I am the guy that knows all of the lyrics!

Ronnie said, "Come here hon" and gave Tina a hug and a kiss on the cheek and I took a picture of the two of them posing. Ronnie said that my hair had blown in the way of the camera so I took another.

She told him that it was the best show that she had ever seen and that he had made her feel important during the show (like she was a part of it) and Ronnie said, "You are important, you are what the whole thing is for." and we were all just a bit starstruck.

And then it was my turn, I had given Mike my CDs and I had all of the big stuff. I didn't want to walk up there with 100 things. And at the last minute Josh ran up and said, could you ask him to sign this and he gave me his ticket stub.

I walked up and Ronnie asked me who to sign the stuff to and I told him and he wrote: "To Sam - All the Best, Ronnie James Dio" on to of them and "To Sam - Magic - Ronnie James Dio" and "To Sam - Special Magic - Ronnie James Dio" on another.

I told him that the guy behind me was getting my stuff signed too - so his would be "To Sam" too and Ronnie laughed and said, "That's smart, sort of divide them up a bit."

After he had signed my stuff, it was time for the pictures. Tina announced that she was the official photographer for the next five people (insuring that we would get to stay awile) and she took a picture of me and Ronnie (and Willie Fyffe, the friendly tour manager who had noticed me and my T-Shirt.)

I remembered that one of my regrets about meeting Geezer Butler in February 1996 was that I had a smile from ear to ear and it just didn't seem all that "Sabbathy" when the picture came out.

So I said, "Wait wait, I was smiling, can I please take another one, I didn't look Sabbathy enough - try and look mean, this is heavy metal" and everybody laughed and so the next picture was just as smiley as the first!

Mike got up next and was having all of my CDs signed ("To Sam...") and when he was handing up a copy of "Europe 1993" I said, "Hey Mike, have him sign that one to you, I will let you have that one." (I was waiting on a another copy of the CD from a trade anyway. And since I was just going to trade it for something else anyway - no arrangements had been made, I just know guys who like to trade boot CD for boot CD - I figured that if you are going to do something nice and give away your expensive bootleg CDs, you might as well do it in front of Ronnie James Dio! ;)

We took pictues of Mike and Ronnie and then of Scott and Ronnie (Kevin and Brenda had gone home, and April decided to stay in the car - she is not so celebrity oriented.)

At the end, we said our goodbyes and off we went. It was the best time that I think that any of us have ever had. Perfect show, meeting Dio...Tina and I rode back and did not stop talking about it for the entire 2 hour ride home. We retold each other everything that had just happened TWICE on the way home.

And though the crowd was mellow - as far as shoving and so forth, Dio still managed to kick my a*s enitirely. I spent the next two days in bed. I was sore from head to toe. My hearing took two days to come back in my right ear (my left ear, into which Tina had been screaming all night, was fine right after the show.) My neck hurt from looking up for the entire show. My arms hurt from throwing my fists. My behind and back hurt from the car rides. And my legs and feet hurt from standing for so long.

Dio truely kicked my a*s in St. Louis. I am thinking of having a T-Shirt made.

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The page has been updated on 15.05.1999
URL: http://www.dio.net/tour/reviews/970408_SamNaugler.html, the front page http://www.dio.net/.