The Masquerade, Atlanta GA
There are some great female singers in Heavy Metal now, but it can be argued that most of them would not be singing Metal, much less enjoying the acceptance and popularity they do today if it were not for Metal’s true queen and pioneer – DORO PESCH.
It is one thing to possess a fantastic singing voice, but it is another thing entirely to have that plus staying power. Since 1984, when she debuted with WARLOCK, DORO has not only continued to release albums and tour but has managed to stay relevant. Her presence and the respect she commands by having a pure Metal heart, being appreciative and respectful of her fans, and bringing magic to her many collaborations makes her a very special – and influential – musician indeed.
Doro released Raise Your Fist in 2012, and like most of her recent catalog, received minor attention and only charted in her home country of Germany. However, she tours the States for her die-hard fans, making a stop at Atlanta’s Masquerade. The room was full of 1980′s throwback – folks who were happy to step out Hair Nation-style. What was impressive was the age range of the attendees. There were little kids brought in by their parents in rock t-shirts and others sliding into their 50′s and a few older than that, all there to rock out to 80′s hits and see some good, straight-up Metal.
There were two bands to take the stage before DORO. Local band BRAZEN ANGEL took the stage first, full of energy and Southern pride. Unfortunately, while all competent musicians, and having a very good singer in Reese Martin, it was clear they were not only local, but definitely more bar band than touring band. As if it was necessary to drive that point home, they mention the fact that their fans, who were out in force and seemed excited to have their local heroes in the lineup, helped them pay-to-play to get on the bill. A faux pas they should never repeat onstage again, even if not necessarily a secret. What they lacked in polish they made up in enthusiasm, however, and they appeared genuinely appreciative of the chance to perform tonight.
Up next was SISTER SIN, a Swedish hard rock outfit fronted by the vocally powerful LIV JAGRELL. Pro and tight, they powered through an athletic set of “old-school metal” that was complementary to the 80′s hard melodic rock style and vibe of the evening. A little bit MÖTLEY CRÜE, a little bit SKID ROW, some gang vocals and a lot of pure energy. The band has been working hard to establish itself and promote their new album, Now and Forever, which has some very strong material. It was great having two bands with strong front women on the same bill, and SISTER SIN was perfect to open up for DORO.
When the diminutive DORO came out the crowd went nuts, and what is amazing is how little she seems to have changed over the years. She sounds phenomenal and looks fantastic, not much different from when she first broke through in America. The other gift she has is her command of the stage. She is a powerful presence, but it is tempered with an endearing sweetness and grace. She thanked the crowd early and often, reaching out into the crowd, communicating as if she was speaking to old friends. She also makes her band very much a part of the show instead of treating them as just a backing band. GUITARISTS BAS MAAS and LUCA PRINCIOTTA, NICK DOUGLAS on bass and JOHNNY DEE on drums are an international, highly visual and incredibly tight unit that gave Doro a solid backdrop for her vocals. She played a great mix of her catalog, opening with “Earthshaker Rock” and sprinkling in other favorites such as “I Rule the Ruins” (this writer’s personal fave), “Stay Hard (True As Steel)”, the fan-dedicated “Fur Immer” and “Metal Tango”. She dedicated “Hero” to the late RONNIE JAMES DIO, and there was even a drum solo, giving DORO’s pipes a break and giving the drummer JOHNNY DEE a chance to show his chops. “All We Are”, the song she is probably most famous for here in the States, was actually played toward the end of the set – not as an encore. The band finished the set, and did two more songs for the first encore, the unreleased in the U.S. “Love Me In Black” and “Fight For Rock”. Answering the chanting crowd, she was able to fit in one more song for a second encore, which by fan demand was “East Meets West”. Nearly two hours of music and not one dull moment. DORO’s music may be dated and lyrically lacking to some Metal fans, but her uncomplicated and sincere approach makes the music what it was intended to be – empowering, unifying, and fun.
Other than the fact that DORO appears untouched by time, what was striking about the night is how the crowd showed their reverence for her. It was a full room though maybe not a sold-out crowd, but you would not have been able to tell from the raucous fan-worship bestowed upon her. Everyone was respectful and kind, and the band worked that room as if they were playing a packed out stadium. Some performers seem to thank their fans almost out of obligation, but DORO seems to be truly appreciative of the fan base that has kept her making music for nearly 30 years, playing songs that fans have requested and touched by the fans knowledge of her music not even released in this country. In a time when pretention and pomposity is king, it was so refreshing to see a performer not only enjoy what they do, but remembers the fans are the reason they get to do it.
If there was one downside to the show, it was the overall sound. The Masquerade has 3 rooms – Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. DORO’s show was held in Hell, which had a flat, harsh sound that just would not round out. Heaven, where I was fortunate enough to see NEUROSIS last month had a great sound. It doesn’t make sense that there would be such a vast difference in sound quality in the same venue especially when such sonic deficiencies can be easily improved.
This is a minor gripe. The show was great, with DORO showing that while other ‘chick singers’ may come and go, she is legend; she is still the Metal Queen. Anyone who may have forgotten, and was there this night, got one hell of a reminder.
I Rule the Ruins
Burning the Witches
Running From the Devil
Raise Your Fist in the Air
Breaking the Law
All We Are
Love Me In Black
Fight For Rock
East Meets West
by Lynn Jordan