Event Review: Dio, Deep Purple, and the Scorpions
At The Chronicle Pavillion - Concord, California
Sunday, July 28, 2002: No matter what the musical flavor of the month may be, there will always be a bevy of folks religiously dedicated to the bone-crushing rhythms of heavy metal. Having three of the genre's most important figures appearing together on one bill not only looks good on paper, but it sounded good too. In fact, saying the concert was simply good is an understatement. These shows were above and beyond awesome!
Dio recently released a brand new album, so they were naturally bent on promoting it, which is called "Killing the Dragon." The title track of the record firmly mines the thick, pounding beat with which the band is regularly linked, supported by lyrics penned of mystical imagery. A frenetic rocker, "Push" was another tune from "Killing the Dragon" Dio offered. Of course, no Dio gig would be complete had not they dipped back into their lead singer's impressive past catalog and rolled out a couple of classics. Among the masterpieces we were treated to were Blackmore's Rainbow's "Man On The Silver Mountain" and Black Sabbath's "Children Of The Sea." Ronnie James Dio's commanding voice boomed like a sonic blast while singing these songs, which grinded graciously to the haunting strains of hard-edged hullabaloo. Dio's breakthrough hit from 1983, "Holy Diver" was also a joy to hear, and, as expected, it was delivered in the band's trademark mode of power and precision . . . electrifying from start to finish!
Following Dio's rip-snorting repertoire of dungeons, dragons and wizards induced ear candy was Deep Purple, who really requires no introduction. Frequently referred to as pioneers of heavy metal, these English lads have been making racket for well over thirty years now and exhibit zero signs of slowing the pace. Ian Gillan can still bellow his noggin off, while the band itself is as pile driving as ever. Deep Purple got the party hopping with the hip-shaking "Fireball," ensued by equally fabled numbers such as "Woman From Tokyo," the appropriately christened "Speed King" and the glistening pop metal musings of "Knocking At Your Back Door." Not surprisingly, Deep Purple played a batch of cuts from "Machine Head," their remarkably brilliant album from 1972 that stands as a textbook example of hard rock artistry. Prior to launching into "Lazy," the band wielded a few bars from "The Work Song." From "Machine Head" they also performed "Space Truckin'" and yes, "Smoke On The Water." Da da da da da da da . . . Deep Purple closed the set with "Highway Star," but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here because before the show ended they turned in a typically terrific take of "Hush," the tune that put them on the map so many moons ago. Ritchie Blackmore is long gone from Deep Purple, but Steve Morse admirably fills his shoes and can man a guitar with the best of them. On top of that, the organ grooves were consistently thrilling and excitement prevailed!
Akin to the bands with which they shared the stage, the Scorpions have been staples of the hard rock circuit seemingly forever, but they didn't actually obtain worldwide recognition until the very late seventies and early eighties. When the German band was finally awarded serious airplay after paying their dues for almost a whole decade, they were considered quite different than their peers, thanks to lethal doses of manic punk inspired energy that's often injected into their material. The Scorpions were hot to trot that breezy, nippy Sunday night in Concord, bursting at the seams with vim and vigor that was ridiculously contagious. Battery-charged versions of "Bad Boys Running Wild," "No One Like You" and "Blackout" effectively demonstrated the band's forte for performing catchy brain-banging anthems, cast of thrusting arrangements and slashing fretboard flourishes. Loud and focused, the Scorpions are armed with impeccable timing and a telepathic intuition for the kind of razor sharp metal mindfulness they specialize in. Lead singer Klaus Meine's high-pitched croon thundered across the stadium, as the band jammed insistently. Played at a deliriously deafening volume geared to raise the dead, "The Zoo" smoldered savagely to a crackling cadence, and on the ballad front there was "Still Loving You" and the politically inclined "Wind of Change." The Scorpions concluded their razzle-dazzle show with "Rock You Like a Hurricane," which crunched and crashed with fierce velocity. A band that never fails to amaze!
Though a common thread weaves through the music of Dio, Deep Purple, and the Scorpions, each act is truly unique in its own way. Merchants of conventional hard-rocking heavy metal, these bands don't need to rely on gimmicks to attract attention. Dio, Deep Purple, and the Scorpions are about the music, first and foremost. And that's how it should be!
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