City Hall, Newcastle

3 December 1987

(Twenty-Nine Years Later)

If you'd asked me in 1987 who my favourite rock singer was, I may have said Ronnie James Dio. His voice was immense, and he wasn't just a hard rock shouter or screamer but possessed an incredible melodic quality. I had albums from almost his entire career — Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Dio — and loved all of them.

And yet this concert was my first (and one of my very few) disappointing one.

First, he was touring the fourth Dio album, Dream Evil, and I thought the songs were very weak. From this album on I think he lost the essential sense of melody which made his songs, even the harder-edged Sabbath and Dio songs, so special, as he edged closer to a style of heavy metal that isn't really my taste.

Secondly, I thought his voice sounded very poor live. At the time I had no other point of reference so thought perhaps he just couldn't do it live — but I've heard him live subsequently and he's sounded fantastic. So was it a bad year, an off night, a throat problem? I don't know, but he wasn't singing as well as I knew he could.

And finally there was the stage show. I had read about his previous tours where he used elaborate stage sets and had fire-breathing dragons and God knows what on stage, and I thought it sounded really cool. Well, the reality is it looks pretty silly. And as the giant mechanical spider descended to the stage to be blasted by laser beams from Craig Goldie's guitar, I just thought, yeah, ok, I'd rather be watching five guys just playing music.

The support was Doro Pesch, a German singer who was very big at the time, but her brand of metal didn't really do anything for me either.

So there we have it. I didn't hate the gig, but I was definitely disappointed.

I bought a t-shirt, of course, and still wear it occasionally. One thing that Dio always excelled at was the mystical imagery:

Dio t-shirt front
Dio t-shirt back