Dio Disciples Live in California

Rockbar Theater, San Jose, CA
By Dan Wall

Set list:
The Mob Rules | Holy Diver | Stand Up and Shout | Egypt (The Chains Are On) | Stargazer | Catch the Rainbow |  Kill the King | Mistreated | Rock and Roll Children | The Last in Line | Long Live Rock and Roll | Man On the Silver Mountain |  Heaven and Hell

This Is Your Life | We Rock | Rainbow in the Dark

90 minutes.

After legendary metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio passed away in 2010, a group of his former musicians banded together and formed the Dio Disciples to tour and perform the classic songs of their mentor.

Guitarist Craig Goldy, drummer Simon Wright and keyboardist Scott Warren were initially joined by bassist Rudy Sarzo to form the musical backbone of the band, with two vocalists, Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Toby Jepsen (Little Angels, Fastway) taking the place of but “not replacing” the great Dio on vocals.

Five years later, the band is still together, although a rotating group of vocalists has been employed to try and emulate the diminutive singer’s voice. With Owens and Jepsen employed elsewhere, Mark Boals (Malmsteen) has been used, while Joe Retta (Sweet, Heaven and Earth) and Oni Logan (Lynch Mob) currently tour as the singers. Amazingly, the act has always used two front men to try and match the vocals of RJD. (Incidentally, the current bass player is ex-Malmsteen sideman Bjorn Englen, wielding a Carvin 4-string thumped thru some Ampegs).

So how does it all fit together? Quite nicely, if truth be told. Both Retta and Logan can hit the high notes and sing well in tandem, while the four musicians in the band can still create all the riffs and rumble that was the staple of Dio’s music. Not easy when you consider the three metal acts that Dio fronted all had a bit of a different sound. Rainbow was one of power metal’s first superstars, and everyone is familiar with the doom and gloom of Black Sabbath. Dio’s solo act mixed the best elements of both of his former bands, and thus helped create some of the 70’s and 80’s most enduring songs.

This musical legacy is well known, as Dio fronted those great acts and created four of the genre’s most iconic records (Rainbow’s “Rising,” Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” and “The Mob Rules,” and Dio’s “Holy Diver”). This creates quite a problem with putting together a set list, because just as many great songs have to be left out of the set as are included.  You can see from the list above that most of classics were played, but completists and serious fans could have watched these guys play all night and never run out of great material.

The band looks good, sounds great and does a great job replicating the songs of our hero. Goldy, with his black reverse headstock ESP dialed into a couple stacks of Marshall amps, has the classic tone. This is a tribute, but a serious tribute that includes players who spent plenty of time on the road with Dio. You should spend some time with the band if they come to your town, if you were a fan of Ronnie James Dio.

The show was held at The Rockbar Theater in San Jose, a new facility run by booking wizard Jimmy Arceneaux, an old buddy of mine from our time at the Omni club in Oakland. The venue, a former casino (and Catholic Church / one-stop shopping), is huge, with a large stage and a very big area for fans to stand and partake in the music. There is also a huge room to chill out in, a number of bars, vodka lounge, pool tables and even a sushi bar. Food is served in the lounge almost all night, and the facility has booked some great acts in the recent past, like Blue Oyster Cult, Billy Idol, Pat Travers, Uli Jon Roth, Y&T and in the coming months Al Di Meola, Sebastian Bach, Faster Pussycat, Saxon, Armored Saint, Tony Macalpine, and Michael Schenker.

There is also rockin’ karaoke and themed nights, like tribute bands, etc.

This might be the best club to ever feature rock music in the South Bay, so make sure to check it out if you are in the area.