Dio – Donington ’83 / Donington ’87 (Re-Release)

Dio – Donington ’83 / Donington ’87 (Re-Release)
Niji Entertainment & BMG
Release Date: 23/09/22
Running Time: 45:44/48:43
Review by Simon Black

Originally released very shortly after Ronnie’s death in 2010, this revamped version of these two classic live shows from the defunct, but much missed Monsters of Rock festivals of the 1980’s are a real snapshot of Dio captured in amber at the peak of his solo career. This time out there’s some fancy packaging to entice the collector on both these limited-edition vinyl and CD versions, with 3D  Lenticular art print on the covers and an exclusive etching on one side of the vinyl version. It’s almost as if there’s a Dio movie on the horizon to cash in on…

Compared to the older version on streaming platforms, this definitely feels like a bit of much needed cleaning up has taken place to the recordings, even if there’s no way of remixing the source tapes. Sadly, this does nothing to fix the lack of gapless playbacks between tracks on the 1983 disk, which means you sometime get the ridiculous situation of a fade out at the end of one song, with the opening bar of the next song clearly heard, which then promptly restarts on the next track after the gap! This sounds really messy when you get to the end of the disk when what should have been a clever medley of Rainbow classics ‘The Man On The Silver Mountain’ and ‘Starstruck’ stops and starts so messily. That said, both of these recordings are really surprisingly solid in terms of recording sound quality, which is a bit of a miracle considering what a ropey process this could be in the 1980’s, never mind at a big festival this with six acts sharing the limited facilities available. 

Given that for 1983 Dio was only the second act on, a forty-five-minute set list seems generous by modern standards. But these were the days when there was only one stage, when the changeovers were less slick and the audience wasn’t going anywhere else, so Dio has some real enthusiasm to feed off. His solo career had only just got off the starting blocks in 1983, so with only the “Holy Diver” album to draw from inevitable means a liberal peppering of material from his Rainbow and Sabbath days, but that’s what that crowd would have wanted to hear at this point in his career, and the roars that great the historical entries prove the point.

By the time you get to 1987, the Dio band are a major draw in their own right, so he’s in the support slot at this point, and this time the limiting factor may be space on the disk, so we don’t get to hear the performances of ‘Sunset Superman’ or ‘We Rock’ – plus the play order is jumbled up for no readily apparent reason. However, he absolutely has the crowd in the palm of his hand this time out. To be honest I think I would have preferred to hear these two missing items from the set list, rather than some of the track duplications we do get, although to be fair only three songs crop up twice, and when they do, you can hear immediately how much better a guitar player Vivian Campbell is than Craig Goldy (despite Cambell clearly struggling with a guitar that doesn’t want to stay in tune on the first disk).

These are minor quibbles though, because what we’re here for is the fantastic vocal performances of this much missed Heavy Metal hero that war Ronnie James Dio, and in both shows he’s absolutely on top form. I was expecting to be a bit bitchy about these releases, given that they were originally rushed out to cash in when he died, and again given there’s a lot of buzz about the forthcoming movie, but to be honest I loved listening to both of them and it reminds me just how much I miss this fabulous frontman. 


Donington ‘83
01. Stand Up and Shout
02. Straight Through the Heart
03. Children of the Sea
04. Rainbow in the Dark
04. Holy Diver
06. Drum Solo
07. Stargazer
08. Guitar Solo
09. Heaven and Hell
10. Man on the Silver Mountain
11. Starstruck
12. Man on the Silver Mountain (Reprise)

Donington ‘87
01. Dream Evil
02. Neon Knights
03. Naked in the Rain
04. Rock and Roll Children
05. Long Live Rock and Roil
06. The Last in Line
07. Children of the Sea
08. Holy Diver
09. Heaven and Hell
10. Man on the Silver Mountain
11. All the Fools Sailed Away
12. The Last in Line (Reprise)
13. Rainbow in the Dark

Ronnie James Dio – Vocals 
Vivian Campbell – Guitar (Donnington ’83)
Craig Goldy – Guitar (Donnington ’87)
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums 
Claude Schnell – Keyboards


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.