Ronnie James Dio R.I.P.

19 05 2010

I’ve intended to write this blog since I heard the news on Sunday about Dio (one of my heroes) passing away from stomach cancer. I’ve put it off until today due to two factors-1) being utterly bummed out that I’ll never get to see him sing again and 2) (perhaps more sensibly) I had to get some deadlines out of the way.

I’m not going to retell Dio’s amazing life story here as you probably already know it (if you’re reading this and haven’t heard his work with Rainbow, Sabbath and indeed his solo stuff you should be ashamed of yourselves) but I will share with you a wee story about the day I became a Dio fan. I was roughly 8 or 9 and growing up in Newry in the late 80s. I wasn’t really like everyone else in my class who seemed to listen to Vanilla Ice and eat the rubbers off of their pencils for thrills. I loved Hammer Horror films, comics, action figures and anthemic, jaw droppingly good heavy metal.

I started out adoring Iron Maiden and Ozzy (while also picking through some of my parents old LP’s) but I wanted more. Being from a working class family meant my folks couldn’t afford all the albums I saw in Carlin Records and Sounds Good, so I did the next best thing-I got a library card, borrowed tapes and recorded them for my collection. Admittedly I ended up borrowing an absolute truck load  of absolute bollocks, but every now and again I got a gem and on this particular weekend I got ‘Holy Diver’ by Dio.

While I’d briefly heard the name, I hadn’t yet heard THE VOICE and chose the record purely on it’s cover (what 9 year old doesn ‘t love pictures of demons and priests getting their fuck knocked in?) and I took it home with me. As soon as the first verse of ‘Stand Up and Shout’ kicked in on my walkman I was utterly and irrevocably spellbound-immediately adding him to my unholy trinity of favourite warblers (Bruce Dickinson and Ozzy for those keeping score). I was so in love with ‘Holy Diver’ I listened to it every night after school for months. Instead of doing homework, I’d pop side 1 of the tape in and forget about the fact that myself and my brother were the only ones our age into this stuff.

As the years passed I got into other types of music, but Ronnie’s voice always did it for me. While Bruce and Ozzy let me down over the years, Dio never did and I will always love him for that. I finally got to see him live too and guess what? He played ‘Holy Diver’ in its entirity and his voice was as good as it ever was. Even better than that was how much passion he put into his performance, throwing the horns like the expert he was (hell, he did invent the gesture after all).

I’ll freely admit that I’m absolutely heart broken about the news Ronnie’s no longer with us. That’s how much this all means to me. But at least he’s left behind a huge legacy that proves he was one of the greatest of all time.

These days when I listen to my battered copy of ‘Holy Diver,’ I’m transported back to 1989 with the added bonus of not having to bother going to school. It’s a pretty good feeling I have to say and it’s as if the 12inch slab of wax is my own personal time machine. Yeah, I’m gutted I won’t get to see Dio do his thing fronting Heaven and Hell in Dublin on July 30 like originally planned, but I’m happy to see the great man remembered so fondly by the world in general.

Rest in Peace.

Church Of Noise 3

19 05 2010

Here’s more Church of Noise action, reprinted from the Big List.

Church of Noise

Local music news

If you’re the kind of reader who is sitting there and currently thinking to themselves, “Banbridge, what a place,” well then be prepared to get even more tingly feelings about the town as this month they’ve revealed they’re hosting their own music festival called (wait for it) Take It To The Bridge. Boasting a line-up consisting of And So I Watch You From Afar, Panama Kings, A Plastic Rose and the Complete Stone Roses (yeah, me neither….) the bash takes place at Corbet Lake on July 3. Tickets for the festival are a tasty £25 and with more acts to be announced they’re a bargain. Keep your peepers peeled on for more details. We don’t know about you, but we’re already pumped about potentially getting a chicken burger out of Friar Tuck’s after the show.

 As you probably know by now, this April 23 we’ve got the ear-gasm inducing Beat Poets headlining the Big Gig at the Spring and Airbrake. Why are we telling you this again we hear you cry. Well, the four-piece are also releasing their new single ‘One By One’ on April 19 via all major download sites. The Poets are currently swanning around Texas at South by South West as this writer types this month’s missive (not that I’m jealous or anything…) and have plenty of plans coming up in the pipeline which should secure their future as one of NI’s brightest bands. Last month we got a sneaky listen to ‘One by One’ and it has a chorus to die for, so make sure you (virtually) pick up a copy.

 Duke Special and General Fiasco are teaming up on March 29 for a very special gig called Unwind Your Mind and it takes place down at the Oh Yeah centre. Currated by Across the Line (yes, those dudes on the back page of the Big List who also host a mighty fine programme on Radio Ulster) the show is aiming to raise awareness about mental well being and Wonder Villains, Panama Kings, Kowalski, Ed Zealous More than Conquerors, Axis Of and Aaron Shanley also play on the night. It’s good news for all you cheap skates too as tickets are completely free. All you have to do is visit and apply for them. Good luck.

Finally, if you’ve found yourself still reeling from the shock announcement of Jedward getting dropped by their record label (y’know, we really didn’t see it coming) then you can find some consolation in the news that LaFaro release their long awaited debut slab of wax on May 10 via Smalltown America and play a gig in the Menagerie in Belfast on April 26 too. Now unfortunately tickets have sold out within about three nano-seconds of going on sale, but knowing the LaFaro boys it won’t take them too long to announce more shows around the rest of the country. Of course, we’d love to be able to tell you that their self titled debut is the veritable fairy on top of the Christmas tree, but as no-one has sent us our copy yet, we haven’t a clue what to expect (apart from sledgehammer riffs and killer hooks that is) and that, my friends, is what they refer to in the business as a subtle hint…

 See y’all next month folks. Up the Irons.