Released: 2010, Armoury Records
Almost six months to the day after Ronnie James Dio died, two live albums came to commemorate his passing. I’m going to review both of them as my little tribute to him. The other is the Dio Double Donnington set which you can read in this months (December 2010) reviews as well.
I’m not quite sure what this live album is. The confusing title doesn’t help. The full title is Neon Nights 30 Years of Heaven and Hell Live In Europe. This single, 74-minute CD was released simultaneously with a live DVD set called Live In Wacken. Is this supposed just to be the audio CD of the DVD? Why is the title different? The track-listing is ever so slightly different as well. Is this a collection of songs from across Europe on the last tour or the Wacken show? There are no liner notes to indicate where or when this show (or shows) were recorded. If it is the same as the ‘companion’ DVD why the different track list and fade-outs between the songs? In that sense it was poorly done. The rest of the packaging was simple but elegant, six photos and a very nice essay by Malcolm Dome.
In one sense in terms of catalogue, this album is a bit premature and unnecessary. Heaven And Hell put out a Double live album in 2007 and they only have one studio album to begin with! There are only four songs that weren’t on the last live album. The album doesn’t really sound that live, the crowd is way back in the mix. The production is fantastic however, it sounds great.
However as a commemorative piece this is a great album, the band, relaxed, mature and confident with nothing to prove. The highlights are the three new cuts from THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. The album finishes strong with an almost 18 minute version jam of the bands namesake song ‘Heaven and Hell’ followed by a spirited version of Neon Knights. Naturally this album, isn’t just another live album. Despite a few flaws the key point is that this record captures Dio at his finest. Despite being sick at the time, he is at the height of his game and this is one last chance to hear him at the end of his magnificent career.