Dio concert review; April 11th, 1997 by Sal DiFatta

The following is a review of a Dio show of the third US leg of the Angry Machines, originally posted to alt.music.dio.

From: Sal DiFatta (BEAD-MAN@worldnet.att.net)
Subject: Review of the Dio show at Jackhammers
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 1997 23:27:39 +0000

Hi everyone! Just wanted to share a little of the Dio history that took place on April 11, when I attended the show at the Jackhammer.

First of all, the concert was awesome, absolutely fabulous!!! My friend Bob and I were the first ones to arrive at 6:30 (Doors opened at 7:00) We waited a 1/2 hour in the snow and sub-arctic temperatures (This is Chicago remember, although it's supposed to be Spring). When we finally got in, we found that this Jackhammer's place was a very small venue. It used to be a dance club called "Toto's", so there were some disco balls hanging from the ceiling, and pool tables, about 5 food bars, booths, seats, and barstools were everywhere. There was a small dance floor in front on the stage were at least 500 people were crammed in! The place held a max. of 1000 people, although I think there was way more than that!

We had to wait about 2 hours listening to the DJ's music picks before the first opening band "Raddaka" came on. They were O.K., but nothing to write home about. By the time they were through, the audience was getting more than a little anxious when they gave the announcement that "My Dying Bride", the second warm-up band was coming on, We all moaned and groaned and after about an hour intermission, they went on. They really blew! In my opinion there shouldn't be any opening bands! We came to see Dio! Get straight to it! We were sweating our asses off in that tightly packed area before the stage, and the perspiration was coming down in buckets!

After they finally finished, (We had been there for over four hours now), people began shouting and screaming, "Dio, Dio!" Then they unveiled Vinnie's drum set and the drunk lunatic behind me started yelling "Dio!!!! Dio!!!!" I was like, "Relax dude, it's only the drums!" About ten minutes later the moment I had been waiting nearly seven years for finally happened...Dio strolled out and took the stage!!!! I could barely see him through the tall heads of the people in front of me (And also because of Ronnie's diminutive stature), but I managed to squeeze into a better location and saw him more clearly! He was followed by Larry Denison, Tracy G. (Ugh!), and Vinnie Appice! I was happy to see Vinnie doing well after what I heard about him. Ronnie surprised us all by telling us that this was being recorded for a live album soon to be coming out!

They opened the set with "Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Ghost" , a song I was originally not too enamored with, but a fine concert performance was given. The other songs were (In no particular order) Holy Diver, Stand Up and Shout, Hunter Of the Heart, Catch the Rainbow, Mistreated, Straight Through the Heart, Heaven and Hell, Double Monday, Last In Line, and two encores: Rainbow in the Dark, Mob Rules, Man On the Silver Mountain, Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, and We Rock! Everyone sounded great except Tracy. He was good covering the old Dio songs, but his stage presence just wasn't there. I was more than a bit disappointed with his guitar solo. It was both long, loud, and tedious, and I hope they chop it from the live release!

Larry and Vinnie were excellent! The bass was pounding and the drums were pumping and my ears are still numb from the assault! Vinnie was much better than on any of the videos I've seen, and his drum solo kicked ass, as well as Larry's bass solo before "Hunter Of the Heart". "Heaven and Hell" rocked, and Dio expressed his appreciation for Chicago and the audience saying, "The first time the Sabs played Heaven and Hell, it was in Chicago". Before "Stand Up and Shout" he told us to make some noise because of the live recording, but we were already making so much noise you could go deaf just by the screaming! "Catch the Rainbow" was done in a very heavy style, and I've never heard it played quite like that before. It was probably due to the fact that we were so wild that they couldn't slow the show down with it. I also remember him making the comment, "What would you think of us doing something unplugged?", and some audience member said "Bullshit!" Dio responded," That's what I'd say, bullshit!"

The show was one of the wildest Dio said he'd seen. There was frantic bellowing throughout the show, people (Like me) singing every song word for word, throwing the horn-signs in the air, and plenty of body-surfing, which I thought was disrespectful to a man of Dio's status. This one hot chick next to us was held up and everyone started trying to lift her shirt since she had no bra on. They managed to get it over her boobs once, but she was too drunk to care! Man, this was turning out to be a really great night! My first Dio concert was a blast!!!

During the encores (Which I think we absolutely exhausted Dio with our enthusiasm) the crowd went absolutely wild! I could barely keep the records I had with me with me to get signed, from getting smashed! Dio smiled at me when I waved to him during the beginning of "Last In Line" and pointed at me when I took his picture. After the concert was over I was totally hoarse from yelling and during the encores, and my heart was pounding so fast I almost passed out! (It was also very hot in there). The audience cleared out rather quickly, and I told my friend, "We are NOT leaving until we get some autographs!" He wasn't a huge fan like me, but was familiar with Rainbow and Sabbath tunes, and got a vinyl copy of "Holy Diver" which he hadn't opened yet. "I said to him "When you get home, you definitely have to hear it!"

This is where the story really starts gettin' good! I talked to about four different stage hands and staff members that night to find out how to get to meet Dio without backstage passes. They all told me that the best thing to do was wait by the tour bus. (Needless to say, they didn't know what the hell they were talking about.) So we waited nearly an hour and 1/2 outside in the freezing cold with two other couples we met. "We're like, "Cool there's only six of us left!" But we were waiting out there forever. Finally the one couple left. "Quitters", we shouted at them. They smiled at us and drove away, thinking we were insane to wait so long.

Finally this one fine chick named Jean (Who was there only with a friend thankfully) that was also an enormous Dio fan, got the idea to sneak into a side entrance. Being no dummy I followed her, leaving my friend Bob and the guy she was with, Brian, outside. We walked through what seemed to be the kitchen on the lower level. We saw some Spanish dudes who couldn't speak English waving us to get out, but after they left we continued on. We made it through the maze-like corridor into another building adjunct to the Jackhammer. "Where the heck are we?" we said. Turning the corner to see what was there, she stopped cold and pointed through an open door at a seated figure with about 20 people around him. "Oh my God", she said, "There he is!"

There in the small room casually talking with the fans, was "the man" himself. The security caught us after she shouted out, and we were forced to leave. We walked right past him into another hallway while she couldn't stop screaming, "Ronnie we love you!" I was like, "If you keep screaming we're never gonna get him to sign the autographs!" We stood in the lobby with some other fans about 10 minutes, discussing how we couldn't believe how we found him! I commented that it was like finding a hidden Easter egg! We decided that we'd have to go back and get the guys although we didn't want to...

But we got them anyway and dragged 'em back with us (Through a different entrance). After about 15 minutes, a flood of people were evacuated from the room Dio was in. "Oh great", we thought "He's coming now!" When he finally did arrive nobody noticed. He was so casual that he just appeared like one of us just hanging around. I was the first to exclaim "Hey, there he is!" Ronnie was dressed in a dark coat with a striped scarf (He must have been more than a little disenchanted with our weather here).

The 9 or 10 people in the room all rushed him before he could make it out the door for autographs. This is the part I cannot believe, how nice this guy really is. He seems so unapproachable on stage but in person he is really benevolent! I was falling all over the place to get a hold of the records that I had with me, out so he could sign them. I boldly walked up to him, handed him a 45, and said, "Here's something I bet you haven't seen in awhile." What I handed him was the first, original release by Ronnie and the Redcaps "Lover/Conquest", from 1957. You should have saw the look on his face when he seen it! "Where did you get this?" he asked. "It wasn't easy", I told him.

I asked him if he played the trumpet on it, and he replied, "Yes, and the bass too", he reminded me. "Oh yeah", I thought, "How could I forget that!" He signed it and I was overjoyed! "Hold on to that one", he told me. Since my friend Bob forgot to bring his "Holy Diver" album with him, I sold him the snapshot of the band that I had purchased earlier (Because I don't care for Tracy G.) for an autograph. Jean's friend Brian had him sign Rainbow's "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" album.

Then I quickly got my camera and had a girl that was in the room (I can't say for sure if it was Ronnie's wife) take a picture of me, the girl I was with, my friend Bob, and anyone else who was there, with Dio. I was really in a daze of excitement at this point, when my friend said, "Why don't you have him sign your other album too?" The other album was an original issue 1972 ELF album. I said "Well I don't know if he would sign that for me too", trying to be nice and unencroching. Dio smiled at me and said, "If you want something, all you have to do is ask."

Sadly, that's all I was able to say to him, although there were a zillion things I wanted to say. "Maybe next time", I thought as he walked out the door to an inconspicuous van that was waiting. (The last time Dio was here was at the "Riv" four years ago with Sabbath). I kindly offered to send a picture to Bob of us and Dio, and also one to Jean. She gave me her address to send it to, and also her phone number. Wow, what a night!!! Getting to see Dio, getting to see him in person and getting a woman's phone number all in one night!! This was the best concert I've ever been to!!!

On the way back to our cars, Bob and I eagerly discussed the nights events. He couldn't believe how nice a guy Dio was. "I told you", I said. Then I told him, "You'll definitely have to open that "Holy Diver" album now, huh?" "Yep", he said.

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The page has been updated on 15.05.1999
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