The new Ronnie James Dio hologram kicked off a month-long U.S. tour last night (Friday, May 31) at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, Florida.
The Dio hologram production uses audio of Ronnie's live performances from throughout his career, with the DIO DISCIPLES band playing live, consisting of Simon Wright on drums, Craig Goldy on guitar, and Scott Warren on keyboards, along with Bjorn Englen on bass. Also appearing with them are former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens and ex-LYNCH MOB frontman Oni Logan.
Fan-filmed video footage of the Fort Myers concert can be seen below (courtesy of John Meyer).
In his review of last night's show, Fort Myers News-Press writer Charles Runnells wrote: "Hologram Dio never really felt real. His mouth didn't quite sync with Dio's recorded, awe-inspiring vocals (lifted from various live Dio concerts). His movements looked too herky-jerky, manic and non-stop to feel life-like. And the whole thing lacked that hard-to-nail-down but immediately recognizable spark of life.
"It didn't help that the hologram was set all the way to the back of the stage, behind the band, making the always short Dio appear even shorter and almost elf-like (hey, he did play in a band called ELF)."
Setlist from Friday's show:
01. King Of Rock And Roll
02. Mob Rules
03. Children Of The Sea
04. The Last In Line / Holy Diver
05. Stand Up And Shout
06. Don't Talk To Strangers
07. Egypt (The Chains Are On)
08. Gates Of Babylon
11. Heaven And Hell / Man On The Silver Mountain
12. Rainbow In The Dark
13. We Rock
14. Neon Knights
The legendary heavy metal singer died in 2010 at the age of 67 from stomach cancer. His hologram made its debut at the Wacken Open Air festival in August 2016 in front of more than 75,000 fans.
After the tour's initial seven-date run was completed in December 2017, Ronnie's hologram underwent "some changes" before the launch of the 2019 leg of the "Dio Returns" world tour.
Hologram production company Eyellusion, which created the Dio hologram, recently signed with the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), represented by agency partner Steve Martin.
Eyellusion CEO Jeff Pezzuti said: "Ronnie James Dio was not only known for his amazing vocals, but also his incredible stage shows and performances. This show is a must-see for all fans of Ronnie, new and old. The new stage production we have created, plus the brand new Ronnie James Dio hologram, have to be seen to be believed. This is a first-ofits kind -metal show! We are celebrating Ronnie, with his live vocals, with his band he toured with for the last 17 years, and with a show that his fans will love! It's an over-the-top metal experience that will have the fans raising their horns throughout the show! We are excited for everyone to see what we have in store for the U.S. beginning on May 31 and the world to follow!"
Ronnie's widow and longtime manager, Wendy Dio, who is a member of the Eyellusion team, spoke to Patch.com about the new Ronnie James Dio hologram. Asked what is different about it, Wendy said: "Technology has come a long way since the first one was created. I'm much happier with the new one. It's a million times better. I wasn't happy by the end of the last tour. I wanted Ronnie to look more like Ronnie. I was very picky about the eyebrows actually. Maybe someone else wouldn't have noticed it but I noticed it. I wanted to make sure that everything was perfect. He's also now in the same line as the band, in front. Before, he was at the back of the stage."
According to Wendy, "about a year" of planning and design went into creating the new hologram. "It's like a cartoon," she said. "Every stroke, every eyelash, has to be done individually. Then there's me going, 'I don't like that!' The people involved really care about it. We're all there during the creation, making it exactly what we wanted to do."
Wendy told Patch.com that critics of the Dio hologram are "entitled to their opinion. I just ask that people come and see the show first before criticizing," she said. "We got a lot of flak in the beginning but I think more and more people are getting used to it. It's for the fans. It's for the fans who would love to see Ronnie back up on the stage and the ones that never got a chance to see him. I think Ronnie would approve. If anybody saw the 'Sacred Heart' tour in 1986 we tried to make a hologram then. We had Ronnie in a crystal ball hanging from the stage talking through it. Also he was an innovator in music, so why not be an innovator in technology."
DIO RETURNS! First night of the US Tour tonight in Ft Myers !Posted by John Meyer on Friday, May 31, 2019