with Ronnie James Dio
Roseland, New York City • July 7, 1998
David Lee Beowülf
OK, a quick one, because I was downstairs in the dressing rooms (quite nice they are) during most of Dio’s set interviewing Iron Maiden’s singer, Blaze Bailey, and meeting up with Steve Harris, Dave Murray, and Nicko McBrain.
Roseland is an infuriating venue that abuses both those who’ve paid and those on the guest list. For example, if the doors are advertised to open at 7:00 PM, that’s when the first band goes on, too. And they take their time searching everyone, one at a time, so someone who arrived at a big show at say, 6:45 PM, might not get in until 7:30. In my case, I arrived at 7:30 and didn’t get in until 8:15, because of their retarded system. So I did catch some of Dio’s set — while I was waiting in line, those bastards!
I’ve seen Dio before, and was disappointed by the simply inadequate sound system, I mean, this is a guy whose voice, though incredible, needs the backing of crystal clear and extremely loud music, including keyboards, behind him to give his songs the intensity they need. Without the sound, it’s kind of, well, there’s just something lacking. He played “Holy Diver,” “Heaven and Hell,” I believe I heard “Mob Rules,” and, totally unexpected by the sell-out crowd of nearly 3,000, “Neon Nights.” Three of the best Dio-era Sabbath tunes there are. I also heard a couple from Angry Machines, but I was downstairs and missed which ones (he announced them as being from his most recent studio album). When I emerged after a fine interview, I caught the absolutely amazing encore of “Last In Line.” Everything was on, and I mean on. Many of the folks I talked to after his set agreed that this was one of the best shows they’d seen Dio play, and that coming from 30+ metalheads is nothing to be ignored.
Iron Maiden came on at a bit after nine, which meant, with Roseland’s stupid curfew of 11 PM, we’d get nearly two hours of classic metal. They started off with “Man on the Edge” and “Sign of the Cross,” two great songs from the first post-Bruce album The X Factor, and followed up with, well, it was hard to tell, they were playing a lot of songs from the brand new Iron Maiden album, Virtual 11, and, gosh, I don’t have it! I do know that Blaze announced one song as “The Clansman,” about the fight for Scottish independence, which they sung to a giant banner of their mascot, Eddie, in full highland gear, including kilts! The old classics they played included “Fear of the Dark” and “The Number of the Beast,” where Eddie came out in person, wearing a brand new Iron Maiden hockey jersey!
What most hit me about Iron Maiden was that they loved to play. The guys hit the stage running and simply would not stand still, they would throw their guitars up in the air, do back flips, jump up and down, these dudes were excited about playing! What I also started to realize, after speaking to a couple of especially cynical industry pros, was that, regardless of how long they’ve been at it, Steve Harris and company are still hearing new music all the time. I bet they’ll keep at it for at least another ten years.