The updated version of the late Ronnie James Dio’s hologram made its first appearance on the Dio Returns: The World Tour at the Matrix venue in Bochum, Germany, last night.

The digital image, which was first projected onstage last year, appeared alongside real-life members of his band, delivering a set that included “Holy Diver,” “We Rock,” “Rainbow in the Dark” and other classic songs.

The show features live recordings of Dio’s vocals, with the hologram programmed to perform along with the audio. Former Judas Priest singer Tim “Ripper” Owens plays a leading support role, with Lynch Mob’s Oni Logan booked to appear at some shows. The band includes guitarist Craig Goldy, drummer Simon Wright, bassist Bjorn Englen and keyboardist Scott Warren.

The hologram project caused controversy when it was introduced, with some fans uncomfortable with the idea of Dio’s “return,” and others calling it as a “cash-in.” The project was masterminded by the singer's widow and manager Wendy Dio, who told Ultimate Classic Rock earlier this year that "we didn’t need to do it, but we’re doing things that we always did. Ronnie did things for his fans, and we’re trying to continue doing that."

“The hologram is supposed to be a gift to the fans, plain and simple – given in the same spirit in which Ronnie gave," Goldy said in a recent interview with MusicRadar. "People don’t remember, but Wendy was a big part of how that whole Sacred Heart stage set was built [in 1986], put together, and without hiking up the ticket prices too. Same thing for the [1987] Dream Evil tour, with the giant metal spider that came down out of the rafters. They were magical days with magical people behind that magic, and this hologram is just that. … People will be missing out on an incredible experience if they let bad comments make that decision for them. Plus, I think Ronnie would approve of this hologram being done in the way it’s being done.”

Still, the guitarist admitted, "It does feel a bit surreal, and hearing his actual voice singing the way only he can sing sometimes is very difficult to bear. But rehearsals have been productive so far. Everyone wants this to be as special as it’s meant to be, and everyone associated with this tour all has the same heart and work ethic that should go along with such an endeavor.”

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