Doro

support nullDB
author EW date 19/05/14 venue Islington Academy, London, UK

The unspeakable pleasure that is listening to Warlock’s 1987 classic “Triumph and Agony” is what lead me to attending this, the London show of Doro’s 30th anniversary tour billed as ‘Strong and Proud’, a 9-date jaunt across 5 countries celebrating heavy metal’s leading woman’s career in the genre. Is that 30 years and counting? There is nothing to suggest to the contrary despite the fact her setlist leant heavily in favour of Warlock material, barely passing a nod to her 12 solo albums, giving a very nostalgic feel to the evening that was recognisable by the sheer number of overweight middle-aged fans in attendance. Hardly a demographic to inspire a sensation of musical relevancy. But first…

nullDB

When someone can confidently state they have just witnessed one of the worst bands play before them that is usually a cause for concern, but when the passer of that judgement is making a comparison to around the 1,435 acts they have witnessed live in their 406 concerts over 14 years prior to this one…well, then you know you really are in trouble. I don’t know why this nu-metal/hard rock troupe from Würzburg were granted a rare British Doro support slot with an unknown profile here and German-language songs to boot, but whoever decided on this and the £20 ticket price needs to consider their position within the promotions industry. NullDB were about as good as their chosen band name, and while I wish not to shit on their poor attempts at song-writing (and covers of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”), the total lack of audience reaction to the admirable attempts of frontman Frank to engage meant the conclusion of their 30 minutes could not come quick enough. Wrong band. Completely.

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Doro

During the wait for our evening’s special lady that began the moment my ears were exposed to nullDB, I could not help but curse the general antipathy with which the Islington Academy treats it’s paying customers. Crap beer at expensive prices is rarely a conduit for pleasantries so it was with great relief when the occasional keyboardist of Doro’s backing band came out to introduce their arrival before entering the refrain of “I Rule the Ruins”. Given the event’s theme in celebration of her longevity in the scene it was interesting to note Doro take a few nervous looking deep breaths at the stage side before making her entrance but when factored in with her overwhelmingly appreciative and personal gratitude at the response continually awarded her after all these years it begins to make more sense. A certified Metal Queen she might be but one can sense none of the ego that is often associated with such stakes as her repeated engagement with the front rows of the audience, plus recollections of meeting fans outside before the show to understand from where they’ve come and to take requests, speaks highly of an artist who sees herself at a fan level.

Which is just as well because on this evidence, and my recent listening of her shockingly awful latest LP, “Raise Your Fist”, she is trading very much on past legacies. One could quite feasibly correlate this with the ruinously photoshopped appearances of her on all the covers of her latest records to understand that Doro is an artist living very much in the past, happy to endlessly tour off Warlock material offering the merest platitudes to new records, that in the case of the aforementioned 2012 LP is quite possibly the worst metal album I’ve ever heard. Putting aside these somewhat minor infractions on where Doro is in 2014, she remains a dominating and affable character on stage whether that is in leading the audience through well performed renditions of “All We Are”, “East Meets West”, “Für Immer”, “Metal Tango” (all from “Triumph and Agony”), covers of Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” and Dio’s “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” which both come with the recital of tales that speak of Doro the fan rather than Doro the performer, and even on more recent cuts like the terrible "Raise Your First in the Air" and the just-as-bad Wacken Open Air ‘anthem’ "We Are The Metalheads".

Critics of heavy metal have always rejoiced in claiming it a genre built on cliché, a point that viewed under the spotlight of a Doro show is hard to counter. But for all the derivative songs about staying true to a cause and having a lifelong love for the genre there is a realness to her delivery that can’t often be found by performers of half her age without the hundreds of past shows to factor in. Taken for what it is - a run-through of a number of great 80s German heavy metal numbers - her set was an easy-on-the-ear rejoice. And on a random Monday night, who needs any more?

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All photos courtesy of Teodora Dani.

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