Singer Ronnie James Dio was known for his huge voice and small stature. When he died of stomach cancer in 2010, metal fans and critics were shocked. A new tour that has been tried out in limited areas will allow fans to recall the performer’s legacy.
“Dio Returns”: the hologram tour
The history of using a hologram onstage has its roots in the Victorian Age, so it isn’t a new idea. However, it is one thing to use holograms for an effect; it is quite another to use a hologram to replicate the image and movements of a beloved singer. Ethical questions are raised – – when is the use of a hologram just entertainment, and when is it simply the refusal to let go? Those are not questions that are currently being entertained by Dio’s widow, Wendy.
According to loudwire.com, Wendy Dio is a champion of the hologram version of her late husband. She does, however, think it needs some perfecting. The website reports that she’d like to “tweak” the hologram’s appearance, and she asks that fans “give it a chance” if they haven’t seen the hologram yet.
A company called Eyellusion is behind the hologram and its technology. The hologram was “unveiled” at Wacken Open Air concerts in 2016. The hologram “performed” as part of the “Dio Returns” tour in Europe throughout 2017.
In terms of performance, loudwire.com report that sometimes the hologram version of Dio sings alone, and other times, he is joined by other singers on the tour. The other players on the “Dio Returns” tour include the band that had played with Dio for 17 years. The additional vocal duties are handled by Oni Logan and Tim “Ripper” Owens.
According to classicrock.com, Wendy Dio wishes to keep the late singer’s music alive. And in several ways, the hologram and the tour accomplish that goal. Drummer Simon Wright shared in an interview that Dio was “interested in the latest technology.” If so, then it seems the hologram tour might be a fitting tribute.
Because there are people who are still listening to and being influenced by Dio, then the tour is necessary. The alternative would be for a series of cover bands to attempt to do justice to the songs. Because the technology is integral to the show, maybe that is what could be the attraction for modern audiences. In a larger sense, heavy metal as a genre shows no signs of fading away, and an iconic performer like Dio has a legacy that is sure to last as well.
As of right now, the plans are for “Dio Returns” to arrive in the US and Canada in 2019.
Holograms and late performers: Dio, Tupac, Whitney Houston and others
Performances by late singers are not new. In 1992, there were waves of criticism when the now-late Natalie Cole appeared to sing a duet with her late father, Nat “King” Cole. While Mr. Cole wasn’t a hologram, just having the video of his singing “Unforgettable” with his daughter so that it seemed a real-time duet (although he was in black and white) was unsettling to people.
But a hologram is different. He or she appears to exist for the purposes of the current performance, and not pasted in from an earlier one. The idea of realism can be problematic. But for some fans, it is an interesting experience. Depending on the technology, the appearance of a deceased performer in a hologram can be unsettling. In the case of Tupac’s likeness, his movements are a bit jerky and he is nearly see-through. The last element undoubtedly could seem macabre to some audiences.
In 2012, a hologram version of the late rapper Tupac Shakur performed at Coachella. At the 2014 Grammys, Michael Jackson in hologram form danced before millions. Other well-known bands have considered the use of holograms.
Metalinjection.net has reported that Phil Anselmo of Pantera has said that a “Dimebag hologram would have to be perfect.” Referring to the band’ s late guitarist, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, who was shot onstage in 2004.
On the other hand, reportedly, the surviving members of Linkin Park are unyielding on the idea of a hologram of late singer Chester Bennington, according to teamrock.com. The answer is “no.”
Using holograms when not everyone agrees can divide a late performer’s band from his or her family members. Such seems to be the case with the late Frank Zappa. The musician’s children and bandmates are divided over the use of a hologram, and some fans are even against the tour that employs a Zappa hologram, according to teamrock.com.
For open-minded fans, a hologram of their favorite performer is the perfect thing. For others, it is a disrespectful, or at least distasteful refusal to say goodbye. But for those who have not experienced holograms of Dio (or others) maybe they should see the quality of a hologram performance before totally closing their minds to the idea.