Dio – Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly (2013)

Share this:

With the sad anniversary of Ronnie James Dio’s death some three years ago comes an opportunity to return to a muscular concert offering that finds him near the peak of his solo powers.

Eagle Rock’s Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly (due on May 28, 2013 on CD/DVD, Blu-ray and for the first time on vinyl) includes fully restored footage of Dio’s June 17, 1986 performance at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, as he toured behind the album Sacred Heart — introducing, along the way, late-period guitarist Craig Goldy and this completely cool animatronic dragon that looms over everything.

Goldy would bring a more refined sound to Dio, which had been in some ways shaped early on by Vivian Campbell’s reckless abandon. (He’d also appear as part of Dio’s appearance for charity Hear ‘n Aid; on the subsequent Dream Evil, from 1987; on 2000’s Magica; and on Dio’s final project, 2004’s Master of the Moon.) This edition of Dio was rounded out by drummer Vinny Appice (drums), bassist Jimmy Bain and keyboardist Claude Schnell.

The concert, which has been previously released but only in edited form before now, relies heavily on Dio’s newest album, featuring run throughs of “King of Rock And Roll” (the closest this new lineup ever gets to skidding out of control), “Like The Beat Of A Heart” (which is given a darkly sexualized reading), “Hungry For Heaven” (one of the most obvious moments pointing to Dio’s melodic late-1980s turn, it also appeared on the soundtrack for 1985’s “Vision Quest”) and Ronnie’s nakedly emotional “Sacred Heart.” The new DVD and Blu-ray includes a tour featurette, interviews with both Dio and Goldy, behind-the-scenes footage and the video for “Rock ‘n’ Roll Children.”

Elsewhere, Dio offers a simply ferocious vocal on “Heaven and Hell,” from his 1980 debut as frontman for Black Sabbath. He also rumbles through complete readings of a trio of tunes from the Dio band’s celebrated debut Holy Diver, released 30 years ago this year — the anthematic “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” the scalding “Stand Up and Shout” and then “Rainbow In The Dark,” which has never sounded more serrated and anger-filled. A lesser-heard moment arrives with the “Time to Burn,” originally included on the 1986 Intermission EP that served to introduce Goldy.

The title track from Holy Diver, however, appears in the first of two medleys — paired with the title tune from 1984’s The Last in Line and “Children of the Sea,” from Heaven and Hell. Later, Dio combines two of his most famous moments with Rainbow (1978’s “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” and 1975’s “Man On The Silver Mountain”) into a second medley with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Children” from Sacred Heart.

In retrospect, of course, there’s no small amount of disappointment in not getting one more chance to hear Dio roar across these classics in their entirety, but such is the temporal nature of concerts — which typically focus on a band’s newest material to the exclusion of earlier classics. Who could have known how precious these fleeting moments would soon become, once Dio was stricken with stomach cancer?

Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly concludes then with a brisk, cathartic moment: “We Rock,” probably the best thing about The Last in Line. Truer words, this new release makes clear all over again, have never been spoken.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close