Enlarge Photo by PG Brunelli, courtesy of Loudwire

Dio Hologram Debuts at Wacken, Hoping to Tour the World in 2017

  • Axl Rosenberg

In 2012, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg performed with a hologram of Tupac Shakur at Coachella. At the time, I expressed concern about the concept of trotting out dead musicians as holograms, and what impact that might ultimately have on metal:

“If you start paying to see holograms of dead musicians,  you wouldn’t be paying to see what Ronnie James Dio can bring to the table live, you’d be paying to see a representation of the memory of Ronnie James Dio, very possibly doing things that the real Ronnie James Dio would never do… In effect, what you’re saying is, it’s not the artist or his art that’s important — it’s the BRAND that’s important. And there’s already too much of that in the world without fucking holograms of dead people headlining concerts.”

Well, guess what Rolling Stone reports happened over the weekend?

“The fervent Ronnie James Dio fans who gathered to watch a group of the late singer’s former bandmates close out Germany’s mega-sized heavy-metal festival Wacken Open Air Saturday night got a big surprise: a theatrical performance by Dio in hologram form. It bellowed ‘We Rock,’ the singer’s gritty 1984 anthem and go-to encore song, and raised its hands in the singer’s trademark devil horns. But the company that created it hopes it will be the first of many shows.”

The article goes on to say that Wendy Dio, guitarist Craig Goldy, and the band’s crew all wept when they saw the hologram because it looks so realistic. Additionally, they’re hoping to launch a world tour of the Dio hologram next year, during which “Ronnie” could “sing” as many as fourteen (!) songs.

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As of this writing, I’m unable to find any video of the “performance.” So I’m not sure if the Dio hologram, like the Tupac hologram, was given concert-specific stage banter, or if it was just lip syncing to “We Rock.” The only pro-hologram argument I’ve heard that makes any real sense to me is “It’s just a visual representation of music the artist recorded while he was alive,” but that argument obviously goes right out the window the second someone programs the hologram to shout “THANK YOU WACKEN!” or whatever.

Regardless, I still find this concept tacky and lame. When Wendy Dio praises the hologram as being so realistic it’s “scary,” and Craig Goldy says “It was surreal almost to have [Dio] here again,” they are, consciously or otherwise, selling not simply a cool laser light show, but a séance. The company that made the hologram is called Eyellusion, and their CEO, Jeff Pezzuti, says that the hologram is “the closest we are going to get to the real Dio and I think that’s really what it’s about.” In other words: “Is it really Dio or not? Only your brain knows for sure!”

This is metal’s answer to the Hollywood reboot, a cultural ouroboros that provides nothing besides an endless feedback loop of nostalgia. If you decide to buy a ticket to go see this, don’t lie to yourself about what you’re paying for.

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