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Dio, Anthrax, Fireball Ministry @ The Beacon Theatre, NYC 10.02.04

Ronnie James Dio, quite possibly one of the greatest vocalists in heavy metal music visited New York City in support of his latest effort “Master Of The Moon”. The Beacon would be the venue and the mighty Anthrax would be opening the bill. One can always count on a great performance from Dio, as he has been in this business for so many years. He also has a wide catalog of great songs, especially since he was a part of Rainbow and Black Sabbath in years gone by. The full show would start off with a band called Fireball Ministry who I found very loud and not all that impressive. The overly loud band made it difficult for their music to sound anything more than muddy to me and my friends. I did not see people really responding to them but since this is a new group to me I will remain impartial.

Anthrax would be interesting to see, as they are generally a fun and energetic group. The band entered the stage to the music of the Blues Brothers showing they have not lost their sense of humor over all the years. However, this is not the Anthrax of days gone by as only Charlie Benante (drums) and Scott Ian (guitars) remain from the original lineup. Frank Bello stopped playing the bass for them last year and singer Joey Belladonna has been replaced by Armored Saint’s John Bush for over a decade. Anthrax has continued to release a sufficient amount of product on the market. The most recent attack on one's musical senses is the bands reworking of some of the classic Anthrax tunes. These tunes were voted on by the fans who visited their website. There is also an excellent DVD/CD package called “Music Of Mass Destruction”. This piece is quite good and worthy of a look. As a matter of fact, the DVD actually reflects most of the tunes that the band played that night.

While the group did not seem to hit any tunes from the “Speading the Disease” they did get a large amount of numbers out for a band under the constraints of an opening slot. Their set consisted of: N.F.L., Caught In A Mosh, Safe Home, Anti-Social, Indians, What Doesn’t Die, Deathrider, Only, & Bring The Noise. I don’t know why Chuck asks if there are any old-schoolers in the house before the play “Antisocial”, since I am pretty sure that “N.F.L.” is older but it still came out great. A highlight of their set was during “Bring The Noise” was when rapper Chuck D. of Public Enemy came out and sang the track with them.

Ronnie Dio arrived to the stage very shortly after that and he was electric as always. His band was Rudy Sarzo who is among my favorite bass players ever. Craig Goldy on lead guitar, Simon Wright on drums and Scott Warren on keyboards. Soon into the set, Simon Wright did a drum solo. Now, I like his playing and I enjoy drum solos, however, I have issues with his for it is using many of the old Cozy Powell tricks of the “1812 Overture”. To me this is a bite of something that was clearly associated with someone else who was known for it specifically and it is pointless for him to do it. I have not read whether he idolized Cozy but I do think he should try something else. It is also a little difficult to enjoy any drum solo after watching the brutal Charlie Benante of Anthrax tear up the skins. He is definitley one of the best drummers who played heavy metal in our time.

Dio mentioned that the group was on a curfew and as a result they would not be doing as many numbers as he had planned. I was honestly annoyed at this, for if anything the opening acts should have been cut shorter and not the main act. I would rather see less of the Fireball Ministry rather than cost the audience added tunes by Dio or even Anthrax. The songs Dio would not get to would be “The Last In Line” and “Rainbow In The Dark”, and perhaps “Master Of The Moon” which I expected he would play. The first two I mention are clearly two of his biggest tunes. If there were more than that, we would not find out. The songs we did get to enjoy are as follows:

Dio’s Set: One More For The Road, Sign Of The Southern Cross, Stargazer, Stand Up And Shout, Drum Solo, Don’t Talk To Strangers, The Eyes, Killing The Dragon, Man On The Silver Mountain, Jam Part, Long Live Rock And Roll, Rock And Roll Children, Gates Of Babylon, Holy Diver, Heaven And Hell, Neon Knights.

The reader can see that Dio really pressed his Black Sabbath and Rainbow years on this tour. It is about time he played more of those tunes, since I don’t expect we shall see a Rainbow tour anytime soon and Black Sabbath seems to focus more on keeping Ozzy as frontman for any gigs they are working on. I wanted to also mention that Dio did not use over-the-top stage props for this show. A large backdrop of the new CD cover and some clever lighting were all this Master Of Metal needed and it truly showed.

--Ken Pierce

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