- Ronnie Dio's Early Years

Wacken Open Air 2004
By Simon Galinski

For photos of Wacken 2004, go to the Photos page.

Okay, first I have to confess that I neither listened to THE RODS regularely nor did I hear the FEINSTEIN album more than once before that gig at Wacken. But because I'm into the old DIO stuff, "The Rock" was interesting to me.

Too bad that I can't tell you more about the songs he played with THE RODS (Carl Canedy wasn't there by the way) than that they all kicked ass! I think I remember "Music Man." Funny thing was that David played at the "black stage" where such crappy bands like "Bal-Sagoth" or "Nocturno Culto" played (these black and deathmetal bands are a real pain in the ass here!).

It was quite unusual because "Reunions" of about that "weight" usually play somewhere small and in the early morning. Not Feinstein.

There weren't too many people first, but the crowd gathered around the longer that gig went. The stage was a little too big, though (see the pix).

So, David played some classic THE RODS songs. Then the lineup changed into the current FEINSTEIN one where David isn't lead singer anymore (why? He's still good at it!), but concentrates on the guitar instead. For one song, special guest Joey DeMaio did join the band on stage.For I am a big Uriah Heep fan as well, I really enjoyed the FEINSTEIN show. I think the vocalist is very good and can compete with Bernie Shaw (of Heep!). It was a very good time listening and I went back to my tent with a big smile. For I knew that wasn't the last tune for the day....


In the evening of the same day happened what has to the best DIO concert ever (okay...the best I saw so far). It is hard to believe, but I think Ronnie's voice was even better than normal. They did a great show.

Ronnie was visibly overwhelmed by the reactions of the audience, which by the way consisted of some 20,000 people! is what happened (as far as I recall):

It was about 9 pm when the show started. To my surprise, DIO opened with "The King Of Rock'n'Roll," a song I hadn't expected at all. Never hearing it live before, I would still have gone home smiling had DIO ended their gig after that tune. But he was scheduled for more - and more there came. ;-)

Ronnie did an excellent choice with his tunes. The next songs to come were "The Sign Of The Southern Cross," "Stand Up And Shout," and "Don't Talk To Strangers." "The Sign of the Souther Cross" was the next hit in my having-never-heard-live-before-bingo. And it went On and on and on...Heaven and hell! Nope...not yet. First we were given "Rainbow In The Dark" and "Man On The Silver Mountain," which changed into "Long Live Rock-n-Roll" and ended with a "Man on the Silver Mountain" reprise. I think at this point Dio flicked some switch to "Maximum ROCk Power," for the following "Rock-n`Roll Children" was the best I've ever heard.

The sound was perfect. There was a gigantic light show and this gig turned even more special and emotional when the sun prepared for bed. It was still very warm and not only for all the great shows every single one in the audience might have seen that day before Dio entered the stage, but for this unbelievable legend of Rock Music every one was mysteriously smiling for he or she knew that something special was happening. Ronnie did his masterpiece with uniting those 20,000 people in their hearts. Believe me, I could have cried tears of joy and no one would have made a joke about it.

After an hour of performance, they played not only another song I never heard live before but a song that is special to me for it was one of the first songs that convinced me that this little man has to be something great: "The Gates Of Babylon," BINGO! "Heaven And Hell," "Stargazer"... He gave us all we wanted.

"Holy Diver" - I don't have to tell you about this one. It is one of the greatest songs ever, but I don't think it a "must," Okay, it is a must, but it is a song everyone knows and I'm kind of a snob, hehe. No seriously. "Holy Diver" is a classic for it was about that time that Dio truly found himself.

Though it was emotional before (specially for us, the crowd) at the end of the show it became emotional for Ronnie.

Through his German labe SPV, he was presented a life time achievement award. That "trophy" was presented to him by his old pal Joey di Maio, who played bass on one song. Joey spoke to the crowd and summarized Dio's career. He told us that even Manowar were inspired by his work and everyone in the crowd seemed to look inside themselves to find what Dio meant to them. There were no screams or loud cheers just applause. In my opinion it meant more than a crowd gone crazy. If it has been a "old-school" concert with seats, at this point every single one would have gone to their feet anyway.

Dio seemed to be very moved. He searched for words and managed to make a small speech to thank all of us and all the people who made all that possible (i.e. his whole career). Sometimes I think Ronnie is a bit ashamed of all his achievements and fame for in his heart he is just a nice guy from somewhere in Cortland who happened to be the greates single person in the history of rock.

There where lots of musicians on stage. And David (Feinstein) hugged his cousin. I don't know if they meet often, but it must have been special to both of them for they made f****ng marvellous music some 35 years ago.