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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Album/DVD Review: Doro - 25 Years in Rock

Doro - 25 Years in Rock
2011 Nuclear Blast Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



Gads, can Doro Pesch throw a party. No doubt the memories of her 25th anniversary bash are still fresh in Doro's mind, to which she must be clinging in the aftershock of losing her Long Island home from the remnants Hurricane Irene. Hopefully at this point, the metal queen is licking her wounds watching the playback of her CD/DVD combo pack, 25 Years in Rock, because it was one hell of a show. As if her 20th anniversary concert wasn't memorable enough.

Five years have swept by since Doro's famous double decade gala (i.e. 20 Years a Warrior Soul) in her hometown of Dusseldorf, Germany. That outrageous revelry included guest appearances by Lemmy and Mikkey Dee of Motorhead, Udo Dirkschneider, Saxon, Blaze Bailey, Jean Beauvoir and a stint with her old Warlock running mates. It was a metal gig for the ages, yet for her quarter century celebration, Doro ups the ante with a major league stage set, pyro tech, metalhead cheerleaders, backing vocalists dressed like monks and an unbelievable cavalcade of guests.

Back to Dusseldorf we go for 25 Years in Rock and this is one of the loudest crowds you'll ever witness in a near-capacity-filled auditorium which Doro and her band pummels with tenacity. Even better that the two-and-a-half hour, 27 song set comprising 25 Years in Rock is loaded nearly halfway with Warlock songs on top of some of Doro Pesch's mightier solo cuts, including some from her most recent album, Fear No Evil. A generous portion of the Warlock tunes are fielded by Doro's current ensemble featuring Johnny Dee (drums), Oli Polatai (keys and guitars), Luca Princiotta (guitars and keys), Nick Douglas (bass) and Joe Taylor (guitars). While these guys are well-versed in the Warlock catalog having played with Doro for so long, it's still a giddy thing they whip out "Earthshaker Rock" and "Hellraiser" from Hellbound on top of the usual round of Triumph and Agony cuts "East Meets West," "Metal Tango," "I Rule the Ruins," "Fur Immer" and of course, Doro's perpetual rally cry, "All We Are."

Even better the True as Steel lineup of Warlock joins Doro onstage once again for a blistering mini set of "Burning the Witches," "True as Steel" and "Fight For Rock." Peter Szigeti and Niko Arvanitis are demonic shredders as ever, while Frank Rittel and Michael Eurich haven't lost a step either. This Warlock quasi-reunion is nothing short of spectacular, even more so than they were for Doro's 20th anniversary set. Next time, though, we want to hear "Mr. Gold," chums.

Speaking of spectacular, Doro's guest list for 25 Years in Rock is going to remain amongst her finest moments onstage. You have Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth joining Doro for a rocking duet on "Always Live to Win," Jean Beauvoir making a second shindig appearance on "Burn it Up," Chris Boltendahl and Axel Rudi Pell riding shotgun on "East Meets West" and even Warrel Dane steps up to the plate during the Warlock set on "True as Steel." The centerpieces of Doro's guests are of course, her femme rocker vocal section on "Celebrate," including Sabina Classen of Holy Moses, Floor Jansen of After Forever, Jackie Chambers and Enid Williams from Girlschool, Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull of Leaves' Eyes, Liv Jagrell from Sister Sin and Ji-In Cho of Krypteria. Doro unintentionally overpowers her party-down backing section, but you can chalk that up to Doro's enthusiasm and her guests' graciousness to keep the spotlight where it needs to be. As it is, Doro and Tarja Turunen just about bring Dusseldorf to its knees on their duet for "Walking With the Angels."

All pretty incredible stuff, but nothing compared to Klaus Meine and Rudy Schenker coming onstage with Doro's band to rip out a pair of Scorpions covers, "Big City Nights" and "Rock You Like a Hurricane." This suddenly-iconic joining of forces ignites 25 Years in Rock with profound intensity. Meine and Schenker escalate the show with their mere presence and while Doro gags in a couple of spots (no doubt due to the unbelievable pressure set before her to throw down with the kingly Klaus), she soon revs it up along with her band and without a doubt, this will go down as a watermark in Doro's prolific career.

Happier still is how thunderous Doro's Fear No Evil selections sound live. The frequently tinny final cut of the studio album robbed much of its power, now retained in a live capacity. "Night of the Warlock," "Herzblut," "Celebrate" and "Walking With the Angels" are punchy, occasionally rowdy and perfectly punctuated.

25 Years in Rock comes as a triple pack with the live DVD, a hefty behind-the-scenes film (not to mention a huge gaggle of extra live video from Doro's 2,500th concert, Wacken 2009 and more) and a 40 minute audio accompaniment of selections from the show. All-told, one massive replay of a metal fiesta for the ages. Once the stage fills with more metal personalities than you count (Lemmy Kilmister, Tom Angelripper and Alexander Krull amongst them) during "All We Are," it's sheer evidence of how treasured Doro Pesch is to this scene. God bless Doro for as long as she can rock us with her majesty.

Rating: ****1/2

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