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London, Astoria 28 May 2008
A great evening of
classic rock at a great venue, with both acts bang on form. Mixing a youthful
passion and energy for what they do with maturity and experience in performance,
both bands really entertained. And I mean REALLY.
Keen to show off their new guitars, and fresh from the appalling sound at
Shepherd's Bush, Britain's longest running all girl rock band (entering their
30th year, would you believe it), Girlschool hit the ground running and, to be
honest, have never sounded better.
energy and sound quality at least. Not bad considering that guitarist Jackie
Chambers' jet lag was the least of the worries.
pounding drums as always opened "C'mon Let's Go", and many a classic followed.
For what started as NWoBHM 30 years ago, they still make their brand of
rock'n'roll fun, enjoying it as much as the crowd.
"Hit And Run" is
always a favourite, catchy too. Guitarist Kim McAuliffe and bassist Enid
Williams shared vocals; how you can sing so well grinning so much at the same
time I don't know but they manage it. And it's good to have some banter,
interaction with the audience during and between songs too.
Murder" featured some fantastic guitar work from Chambers, a definite crowd
The 11 song 45
minute set concentrated largely on the early 80s; the Play Dirty and Take A Bite
albums could be utilised more, as could the equally good more recent material.
The crowd did enjoy, however, the new track "I Spy" from the new album due later
this year. A little darker it's a damn good song that, on CD, features Ronnie
James Dio himself.
The cover of "Race
With The Devil" is always popular and "Emergency" finishes the set to a rousing
Later in the evening the customary hug and peck on the cheek from Jackie
Chambers, and she told me more about the new guitars, new album (including
recording with Dio and Neil Murray) and her trip to LA.
Proof that classic
rock is alive and well, this set was storming to say the least. To a backdrop of
Holy Diver, Dio the band enter the stage to a roar and kick into "Holy Diver", a
riff led metal classic that rocks and more.
Ronnie James Dio proves from the
outset that he can still cut it better than most, if not all. His long hair
waving, his voice at full power and range.
Not long into the set mentions Black Sabbath, but I didn't catch it all, but
given that the set is completely free of any Black Sabbath material, is there a
contractual reason? Are Heaven And Hell due to record?
This does give the chance to explore the Dio catalogue beyond the first two
albums (both of which anyone reading this should own and adore). So rare outings
for "Killing The Dragon", "The Eyes" and "Sacred Heart". The hit single "Rock'n'Roll
Children" is another great song.
Not long into the
set, we get a good, strong and solid drum solo from Simon Wright, which
culminates in the 1812 Overture, a nod and tribute to the late Cozy Powell.
Back into the set
and Dio is around the stage like a kid, and while guitarist Craig Goldie and
bassist Rudy Sarzo are at times a little static, they play their hearts out. You
really don't get classic trad metal than this. They keyboard player fits in well
Like GIrlschool, the sound is fantastic, as is the mix, the bass and keyboards
sounding good. The intro to "Rainbow In The Dark" took me back 25 years.
The Rainbow tracks
are welcome too; while "Man On The Silver Mountain" has always been a Dio
signature, "Kill The King" you simply cannot do without, and "Temple Of The
King" a nice change.
Easy to request more Rainbow and Sabbath, but a damn good set anyway, nostalgia
Review by Joe Geesin
Photos by Noel Buckley
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