No, this isn’t a headline from The Hard Times. Earlier tonight at Germany’s Wacken Open Air Festival, Dio’s Disciples closed out the sold-out festival, and for the encore, “We Rock,” a Dio hologram appeared courtesy of digital effects company Eyellusion. The hologram made history, marking the first time a hologram was used with a live band. “I cried the first time I saw it,” Dio’s manager and widow Wendy Dio tells Rolling Stone. “It was quite, quite scary.”
Eyellusion CEO Jeff Pezzuti says that when he started the company, Dio was one of his first choices, having seen the band in 1985 on the Sacred Heart tour. It’s taken over a year to make the hologram work, using a live recording of Ronnie’s isolated vocal track and using thousands of photos and videos of Dio, who died of stomach cancer in 2010. Dio’s Disciples guitarist Craig Goldy, who played with Dio on and off since 1986, says that playing with the hologram wasn’t easy, as Simon Wright and the rest of the band had to play to a click track. While “We Rock” ultimately won out, “Rainbow in the Dark” and Black Sabbaths’ “Neon Nights” were the other two songs that they considered for Wacken.
And if the rest of the article is any indication, we could be seeing a lot more holo-Dio. Wendy thinks six to 12 Dio and Sabbath songs can be used, and Pezutti is hoping for 14, so a whole show can be used with songs rotating in and out. In fact, after another “performance” (maybe at another metal festival?), a Dio tour will be announced in March. That would make it the first-ever hologram tour. The article also says that Eyellusion has been working with others in the industry like Motorhead manager Todd Singerman. It’s not that much of a stretch to imagine a holographic Lemmy now, is it?
The question is whether it’ll take with metal fans. When we wrote about holograms for a Headbangers Brawl in the wake of Tupac’s appearance at Coachella back in 2012, we didn’t think Wendy would necessarily get behind a hologram of her late husband, but it’s a way to get people interested in Dio again and can only serve to bring attention to his catalog. Would we see a “Dio” show that consisted of a hologram? Sure. From a technological standpoint, it would be stunning to witness at least once. That being said, once the element of surprise is gone, you get the same performance every time, and a band playing along to a click track. Also, it’s a little fucking creepy, no? Even Wendy Dio said it was scary. In Motorhead’s case, the spontaneity of Lemmy as a frontman, not to mention his phenomenal bass playing, was what made the band. But aside from all that, it might be exciting to see metal on the edge of a trend in live music, and props to Eyellusion and Wendy Dio for giving everyone a surprise end to this year’s Wacken Open Air.
Also, in related news, we’re giving away a copy of the A Decade of Dio: 1983-1993 box set. Enter to win that here.
UPDATE: Here’s video