Dio

Evil or Divine [DVD]

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    8
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Whether fronting Rainbow, Black Sabbath, or his own band, Ronnie James Dio has proven himself to be one of classic metal's most enduring and capable vocalists. This show, filmed at New York City's Roseland Ballroom on Friday the 13th of December 2002, finds the met-vet in full cry with his self-named band. The film takes in the entire concert without interruption and mercifully avoids too much post-production dabbling or a distracting over-use of cinematic effects. Some slo-mo and black-and-white moments notwithstanding, it's just great, straight-up concert footage delivered by a multitude of cameras. Earlier in the year, the band had released their ninth studio album, Killing the Dragon. Three songs from that disc are featured here. The title track is a full-tilt rocker that works well as the curtain raiser, but another of the cuts, "Rock and Roll," sounds like a watered down mimic of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." The old material still works like a charm and the best moments are actually the ones that reach back the furthest, especially "Long Live Rock and Roll" from R.J.D.'s days with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, and "Heaven and Hell" from his stint as Black Sabbath's frontman. The band is tight and tough, the playing strong, and Ronnie's voice still commanding and distinctive. Nevertheless, the songs do lack some of the melodic crispness and emotional punch that the studio versions have. But you'd never know that from the audience at the Roseland, which is fittingly rabid and almost exclusively male. (The singer exhibits excellent rapport with his audience and comes across as very much a man of the people.) All in all, this is a good show, and a good film of a good show. The extras are so-so. An interview with a somewhat pretentious Ronnie James, some amateurish behind-the-scenes footage, a photo gallery, and the video for "Push" which is brought to life by a cameo appearance by Tenacious D (Jack Black and Kyle Gass). Better than many concert DVDs, Evil or Divine captures one of metal's elders in fine form.

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