Islington Academy, London
19th May 2014
Review and Photography by Graham Hilling
Despite the modest door time of 7pm, when the first band this evening, nulldB, take to the stage they are confronted by a venue that is barely a third full. nulldB have accompanied Doro on the German leg of this tour and were invited to complete the European part as well and I guess it is a good opportunity for Doro to help a fellow German metal band.
These guys play a confusing concoction of metal of various flavours, with German lyrics occasionally too. They are well received by the first 3 rows of punters at the front of the venue but largely ignored by the rest of the people filtering into the venue throughout the set.
The vocals of Frank Kühnlein are actually quite good when married with the right song and the guitar work of Kühnlein and fellow guitarist Misha Matveev is well executed and proficient. However, despite these plus points their set still has very little impact and you have to think that they are a poor match to be touring with Doro. This is made especially clear when they cover “Purple Haze”, which seems misplaced at best.
By the time that Doro takes to the stage the venue has thankfully filled to something approaching full. Most of the audience are on the older side which I suppose is to be expected when the main act is celebrating 30 years of metal attrition!
With little buildup, the Metal Queen is on the stage bashing through the opening number of “I Rule the Ruins”, the first of many Warlock songs on display this evening. Indeed, the first few songs are almost exclusively from the Warlock era. Doro herself is in the audience almost as much as on stage for “Earthshaker Rock”, hanging over the barrier to the delight of the first few rows in the audience, all singing along and feeling completely part of the show. Indeed, throughout the show she directs the mic into the audience for them to sing along.
Doro is so enthusiastic and engaging it is difficult to be critical without sounding like a party pooper to be honest. She is as much a fan of metal as a performer and this is something that shines through in every second of the performance tonight. And it is all the better for it. There is very little pretense, what you see if what you get. She also has an excellent band around her at the moment with guitarists Luca Princiotta and Bas Maas doing a fine job.
The rhythm section is squeaky tight too, bass duties being handled by Nick Douglas with Johnny Dee on drums. You would expect this since both of these guys have played in the touring band for many years.
The whole unit works extremely well. Doro’s voice is also in fine form, she may be celebrating 30 years in the business but it has done no harm whatsoever to her voice, which still sounds excellent.
As expected with a tour celebrating the past 30 years, much of the set does indeed hark back to Warlock days (and the crowd would probably have felt short changed had it not). There is the odd up to date number, for instance “Raise Your Fist in the Air” and the anthemic (if slightly cheesy) “We Are The Metalheads”. We also get the covers of Dio’s ‘Egypt (The Chains Are On)’, and Priests ‘Breaking The Law’. All lapped up by a crowd that is now smiling almost as much as Doro herself. A blinding version of “East Meets West” is in there too.
So, a fine evening all things considered. While Doro will never set the world alight with anything too original, ironically, this is one of the attractions of her music. You know exactly what you’re going to get. And you know that it will be performed very well and with an enthusiasm that that is real, compelling and contagious. That’s almost enough for me these days…..
Doro Set (this was the stage setlist but extra songs were inserted throughout the set)
I Rule the Ruins
Rock Till Death
Burning the Witches
Fight for Rock
Night of the Warlock
Raise your Fist
Burn It Up
East Meets West
Out of Control
We Are The Metalheads
Breaking the Law
All We Are