Now this is very old school. As Doro launches into the ballad Without You, several lighters spark up in the crowd. These are real lighters, not virtual ones on iPhones. But it suits the mood of the night, because Doro delights in proving that metal doesn’t need state of the art technology to work. In fact, it’s probably a lot better when stripped down to the bare necessities – strafing instrumentalists, a powerful voice, lung twisting anthems and sheer enthusiasm. And Doro has all of these in abundance.
There’s not a huge crowd here. A combination perhaps of this gig being on a Sunday, plus the cold weather and the aftermath of the Paris atrocities. However, opening trio Archer do their best to get everyone in the mood. The Santa Cruz band combine early Bay Area thrash with European power metal. It’s entertaining enough, but what Archer need are a couple of killer songs and then they could make an impact. The talent’s certainly there, but the songwriting is a little lacking so far.
But none of this matters, as Doro bursts into Touch Of Evil, the first of five Warlock tracks which stirringly start the set. The lady’s voice is as coruscating as ever, as almost without taking a pause she and her fortress of steel musicians power through the glories of I Rule The Ruins, Hellbound, Burning The Witches and Fight For Rock.
Doro leads from the front, getting every ounce of energy out of the band, the songs and the hugely enthusiastic crowd. The rest of the performance mixes up solo material with more spells from the Warlock vaults, and while you can criticise the material for following obvious anthemic trails, nobody cares about the cliches. Because they’re bounced round with so much vitality, it’s as if you’ve never heard them before.
Raise Your Fist In The Air has everyone doing just that. Für Immer has people singing along to the German language lyrics. Metal Racer shows its riff-braced fangs. And the rendition of Wacken Hymne (We Are The Metalheads) is affirmation that the whole place is committed to the metal cause.
There’s also a bracing cover of Breaking The Law, preceded by Doro reminiscing about how supporting Judas Priest in 1986 opened up so many doors for her and Warlock. Before the inevitable All We Are climaxes it all with a chant-along chug. Time restrictions mean there’s no time for the band to follow the usual ritual of leaving the stage, before returning for the inevitable encore. Instead, Doro asks the fans to choose one final song. She looks a little overwhelmed as various titles are shouted out, before settling on East Meets West as the appropriate way in which to end the night.
If you had to choose one person to represent metal (old school, new school, whatever school), then Doro would be a strong candidate. Even after 32 years, she clearly loves being onstage and her passion for the music is addictive. “See you for the next 30 years!” she cries as the house lights go up. You know what? Book tickets now for 2045! Don’t bet against Doro still bounding about the stage then, singing ‘All we are, all we are, we are, we are all, all we need’. And she’ll be the undisputed Metal Queen.