The undisputed queen of heavy metal, Doro Pesch returns to London to celebrate thirty years in the music industry. Appearing in the metal world's collective consciousness as the formidable vocalist in German heavy metal act Warlock back in the '80s, Doro is nothing but a credit to the genre. Her return to London is met with a busy O2 Academy, particularly for a Monday night.
Sole support is offered to German hard rockers nulldB. Formed in 2001, nulldB's take on hard rock is permeated by a variety of modern rock influences, most notably nu metal and some nods towards industrial rock, with vocals sung in German. An unusual pick to support Doro, the audience reaction is subdued to this amalgamation of influences that does not overlap with the headliners traditional metal. Their stage presence is not enough to maintain attentions as the crowd thins out while the set progresses.
Exploding on to stage with the Warlock anthem 'I Rule the Ruins', Doro proceeds to dish out spectacular heavy metal that summons the same energy now as it did in the '80s. Her dynamism is contagious as the fans headbang and punch the air throughout the set. For the Warlock die-hards, there is an abundance of material from Doro's pre-solo career music. Staples 'Earthshaker Rock' and 'Burning the Witches' are a treat but the unexpected addition of 'Metal Tango' alongside other rarities such as 'Metal Racer' and 'Without You' are significantly appreciated. The ballad 'FürImmer' may not follow in the high octane metal vein of other Warlock material but this change of pace adds variety to the show and sees a notable portion of the audience singing along to the chorus.
Of course, Doro treats the audience to highlights from her solo career. Newer numbers 'The Night of the Warlock'and 'Raise Your Fist' avoid the raw nature of the Warlock sound in favour of modern and uniting heavy metal anthems. Not only is Doro an important woman in heavy metal history but she has consistently been giving thanks to those who influenced her; namely Ronnie James Dio. Before a cover of Dio's'Egypt (The Chains Are On)', she thanks the influential vocalist and wishes him well wherever he may be. As is traditional in her concerts, Doro reels off a cover of Judas Priest's 'Breaking the Law', initiating as a ballad before launching head first into the rocking heavy metal classic that it is.
When Doro is on stage, she is infinitely appreciative of her fans, constantly thanking and interacting with them on an individual level. She remains fully invested in the show throughout, a smile permanently plastered on her face and passionately singing. One particular highlight is when she sits on the shoulders of the security guard in front of the stage to get closer to her fans. Her backing band is very competent and a drum solo from Johnny Dee has the crowd vigorously applauding. The venue's sound initially starts off less than perfect before improving as the set continues, enunciating the smaller nuances in the music.
Warlock's most beloved song 'All We Are' has most of the audience singing along to the chorus, potentially signalling the end of the night. However, Doro graciously lets the fans pick the final three songs of the night. The ballad 'Love Me in Black' slows the pace and receives an overwhelming response. 'Unholy Love' from Doro's self-titled release is the second selection from the crowd, more hard rock rather than heavy metal, but the metal mood returns with the unusual final song 'Evil' by Warlock, released on rare single 'You Hurt My Soul (On 'n' On)'.
Once again, Doro has left London with a heavy metal energy that demands appreciation. Her contribution to metal is colossal and many newer acts fail to harness even a fraction of the energy she emits on stage. And best of all, she remains remarkably humble and appreciative of her fans. Before leaving the stage, she says: See you all at the end of the year with Saxon, so fingers crossed!