The first release of Niji Entertainment Group, the label created by Ronnie James & Wendy Dio
, is a double digipack containing two Dio
concerts, both of which took place at Donington festival in 1983 and 1987 respectively. The whole thing comes in a rather nice packaging including two « All Access » laminate passes from these two concerts.
The first CD, recorded on August
20, 1983, shows the band at the very beginning of their career, and it is full of energy (« Stand Up And
Shout »). The first album has only been released two months before, but the 4 tracks from it played that day are very well received, just like those who come from Ronnie James Dio
's long career, reminiscences from Rainbow
and Black Sabbath
. We have here a very dynamic live concert, Ronnie James Dio
's voice is – as always – top notch, and the musicians that he chose for his new band are obviously worth it. Vivian Campbell (guitar) and Vinny Appice (drums) are given the opportunity to shine a bit more during solos that they are granted during the 45-ish minutes that the concert lasts.
The second CD, which was recorded on August
22, 1987, presents a somehow different band. Vivian Campbell has parted ways with Dio
after Sacred Heart
, and it is with Craig Goldy that the new album, Dream Evil
, has been recorded. It seems obvious that in 4 years, the band has evolved, has matured, is more « professional », but it has not lost any energy (see the super speed version « Long Live
Rock'n'Roll », on which the audience participates loudly). Claude Schnell's keyboards seem more present (the epic « All the Fools Sailed Away
»), without invading all the musical spectrum though. Craig Goldy has inherited the heavy duty of succeeding Vivian Campbell (and, although in a lesser way, Tony Iommi
and Ritchie Blackmore), but he manages to do a great job on these tracks that he did not write.
One must also notice the excellent quality of the sound of these two discs. The concerts are from the archives of the BBC, and they have been remastered by Ronnie James Dio
himself and Wyn Davis, a long time collaborator. For « technical reasons » (namely the fact that I'm barely 20), I could not attend either one or the other of these concerts, but when listening to these discs, I have the feeling to « be there », for real, in the middle of the audience, witnessing one of those lessons of magic and rock'n'roll that only Dio