October 28-29th, 2005

PHOTOS – Part One

Read the pre-visit interview

“I can do everything!”, said Ron Dio while getting ready to come up on stage for his first gig in the Holy Land. Quite tongue-in-cheek, of course. The day before, the singer stated, “I’m never too serious”, yet it was hard not to believe in his ability to do what others can’t. What about the meaning of Ronnie James’s pseudonym, then? Still, a God-like person he ain’t.

Casting a magic spell on the crowd seems an obvious trick for Dio, and that’s just the extension of what he is. A tranquillity base in the eye of a storm, that’s Ron off-stage. The raging whirlpool is what he’s like when facing the audience. Not that he changes so much in the spotlight, no: with no fan in sight, the artist is still a quark of energy but one with an amazing grace of state and a peace of mind. Well, ‘no fan in sight’ feels a bit far-fetched thing when it comes to Dio, for even whilst walking along the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City, he was recognized and warmly greeted by such unlikely rock types as a young orthodox Jew in a black yarmulke headgear and an Indian guy from California. But it’s not that surprising provided there’s a man whose career encompasses five decades. What’s really surprising is this energy, this vigor. Is there any other singer in his sixties to pull off a fantastic two-hour show like Ron does? “I can do everything!”, there’s no bluff in these words. Ronnie James Dio plays fair, whether on-stage or behind the scenes. His is a courteously fair play.

The band played a set of the highest integrity, where a nice selection of classic RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH and DIO numbers – including “Tarot Woman”, “Sign Of A Southern Cross”, “One Night In The City” and “Gates Of Babylon”, the rare gems that had not been performed live for many years – rounded up the “Holy Diver” album in its entirety. Tired? Not Ronnie who stayed with his fans, taking pictures and signing records and memorabilia, for a couple of hours after the show that ended well past midnight and who has to catch the plane at six in the morning. Faithfulness produces faithfulness. As for the faith, Dio was impressed by Jerusalem yet not too imbued with the city’s religious spirit, though his mates, bassist Rudy Sarzo and keyboard player Scott Warren, could hardly, having left the Holy Sepulchre, subscribe to Ron’s statement, “Too much Jesus for today”. Also, unlike his friends, the singer didn’t put a note to the Lord – from Dio to God – quite a pun! – into the Wailing Wall, but touched its two thousand year-old stones with great reverence.

On the way to the capital of Israel, the American guest, seated in the front of the bus, soaked in everything he was seeing and hearing, without rapturously pouring out his emotions. Immense attention – attentiveness towards the people and attention to detail – that’s the gist of Dio, and it speaks volumes (there’s more volume to it than to the band’s concert!) about his qualities as a person and explains his attractiveness. Or magnetism, if you will. Ronnie absorbs the smallest bit of information, and later on, those around him come all awestruck when Dio, as busy as he is, reminds what was fleetingly said or catches the glimpse of worry on their faces and tends to do all he can – “I can do everything!”, eh? – to not let the situation get out of hand. Rather often, Ron is accused of trying to control everything – but can he be blamed for it if this intention benefits everyone, not the artist alone? True, he didn’t want to start the meet’n’greet session until the crowd lined up in a good order posing no threat to each other, yet thanks to that very order satisfaction was guaranteed.

And thanks to the lack of turmoil, Doug Aldrich was able to learn in a few days the compositions he never performed before and replace Craig Goldy on October 6th. Doug admitted the task seemed hard, even though he’s already worked in DIO a couple of years ago, as since his departure for WHITESNAKE, Ron’s ensemble’s repertoire has changed, and today, no song is performed from the “Killing The Dragon” album, which the guitarist had contributed to, and neither is any material from the latest one, “Master Of The Moon”. The miracles Aldrich showed on stage didn’t betray the work he’s done – being, surely, the result of it – yet in a dressing room, Doug rehearsed the most complex parts, with cheerful Simon Wright drumming on his lap. Drumming less thunderously, of course, than when the Manchester-born virtuoso went for a solo which involved playing around the fragment of Holst’s “Planets” suite.

No less tremendous appeared to be the instrumental duet of Aldrich and Warren – oh, how Scott danced behind his synthesizer! – during “Shame On The Night”. The guitarist let rip with “Hava Nagila” which was taken up by hundreds of voices. This unanimity permeated also “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll”, in the midst of which Ron stopped the fans and sang the equirhythmical “Long live Israel”. Just politeness? Quite unlikely for Dio: if it were so, he could hardly be lightly fluttering around the stage and lightly doing heavy music. Incredible music of an incredible man. Man or God Almighty? Could be either.

PHOTOS – Part Two
© Evgeny Veinard exclusively for DME.

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