Ventura Theater; Ventura, CA; 03/21/00

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

There is nothing more satisfying than to see one of your favorite rock'n'roll stars playing a live show when they're in the midst of a comeback, and that made this performance by Ronnie James Dio and his band even more special. That and the fact that I've met Ronnie James Dio and he is one of the very nicest guys in hard rock/heavy metal.

Dio is on tour in support of his new CD, "Magica," his first concept CD and a recording that has been garnering him rave reviews everywhere (click here to read the Rough Edge review of "Magica"). His first stop was in Ventura and the show was a resounding success.

Dio took the stage and broke immediately into some of his minor hits. "Gypsy," "Don't Talk To Strangers" - the songs that fans love but that were really never radio hits. The sold-out crowd at the Ventura Theater loved him for it. They pushed toward the stage, pumped their fists and screamed "Dio! Dio! Dio!"

And then something really remarkable happened. Something that will tell you a little about the quality of the new CD and the prowess and talent of Dio and his band:

"We're going to do something we've never done before," Ronnie said, "We're going to play the new album in its entirety."

And the band went right into the "Magica Theme" and, for the next fifty minutes, we were treated to a live performance of Dio's new concept album.

Now, there's a danger when performing new material for a crowd. "Magica" had only just been released that morning so not many of the audience there had had the opportunity to hear the new album. And 50 minutes is a long break to take without playing any music that the crowd will recognize.

None of that mattered. The audience was with Dio and gang throughout. They loved "Magica" from the moment they heard it. The listened with rapt attention and they screamed and they chanted and they applauded.

After "Magica" was completed, Ronnie made the obvious comment, "It takes a special type of fan to listen to an entire CD they haven't heard before." The audience loved him for it. He rewarded them with a succession of his big hits.

"Rainbow in the Dark," "Man in the Silver Mountain," "The Last In Line." Ronnie gave the crowd a handful of hits all at once and the reaction was deafening.

Throughout, Ronnie James Dio was in fine form. With his almost renaissance-like onstage persona and his unmatched vocal abilities, Dio made each song a masterpiece. His band, Craig Goldy on guitar; Simon Wright on drums; Jimmy Bain on bass were just as impressive. They made the entire evening a tremendous success.

And, be forewarned: It is very, very loud.

I think "Magica" is going to be Dio's biggest CD in years. And I think the "Magica" tour - which you simply must attend - will be all the more successful because of it.

UNIDA, led by former KYUSS vocalist, opened the evening for Dio with the following almost apologetic statement, "We know we're all here to see one man tonight - Ronnie James Dio - but, if you'll permit us about 40-45 minutes of your time, we'd like to play some things for you."

Those "things" wound up being a great collection of songs that were Dio-like in their vocal expertise but which benefited from a killer bassist whose incredible, fast-flying fingers made each song unique. By the time Unida was done with their set, it was obvious they had nothing to apologize for. The audience loved them. Unida has two albums currently available in stores.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.