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By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Thursday, May 30, 2019 @ 1:42 PM

At The Vault Music Hall & Pub At Greasy Luck, Saturday May 11th, 2019

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All Photos By George Dionne

It's not often that I get or want to do back to back concert nights, but after seeing the MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST concert the night before, I was even more keyed up to see DORO and METAL CHURCH play their show just a 20 minute car ride from my home.

I went to this show with my friend George and we both made the decision to skip the opening acts so that we could get there later than the 5pm door time. This means that we missed out on local openers ON YOUR DEATHBED and LET US PREY (featuring ROSS THE BOSS singer Marc Lopes) as well as the "official" opening act IMAGES OF EDEN. Well, we missed most of IMAGE OF EDEN as we arrived in time to catch the last song and a half of their set. George mentioned he liked the sound of the last song they played.

Since this was a sold out show, the place was packed but we still managed to find ourselves a spot right close to the stage. There were lots of people I've come to know from attending so many shows at the venue lately and I talked briefly to a few of them as the stage was prepared for METAL CHURCH to hit the stage.

It's been nearly three decades since I was able to see METAL CHURCH in concert. That time was at the Citi Club in Boston when they opened for W.A.S.P. and ACCEPT during singer Mike Howe's first stint with the band. I've maintained my love of the band's music throughout the years and bought all the albums but never got to see any incarnation of the band since that Boston show.

So you can imagine how amped up I was to see them. And as they hit the stage, they didn't disappoint. Other than Howe, the lineup is now completely different from the version I saw but Howe sounds just like he did back then and has maintained an equally impressive stage presence. With band leader Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt on guitar, Steve Unger on bass and local legend Stet Howland behind the kit, METAL CHURCH didn't just raise the roof, they blew it right off the building (figuratively speaking of course).

Opening with the title track to their new album Damned If You Do, from the start the band was locked in. Howe bounced up and down and all around the stage during the show, never missing a vocal beat with his almost lion-like roar. I know there's a lot of work behind the vocal but I swear he makes it look effortless.

I was right in front of Van Zandt and Unger during the set so I got to see how they worked together within each song's performance. As the band slammed its way through the new number "Needle and Suture", Howe worked his way over to my side of the stage and I ended up exchanging the devil horns salute with him.

As the band began to revisit their past works, I was thrilled to once again hear "Badlands", a song that contains a chorus that serves as a personal motto for me. It's been a big favorite of mine since it first came out so getting to hear an astoundingly powerful version of it helped make my night. When you add in "Gods of Second Chance", you know this was going to be a most memorable show.

And it was certainly memorable. But unfortunately it wasn't just for the great concert that METAL CHURCH was putting on. Now I admit that part of my frustration with what I'm about to write may be because I'm old and cranky, but during "Start The Fire", a pit broke out behind where George and I were standing. A sold out show, in a venue that has no room for this kind of activity and with security nowhere to be found, and these power drinking highly intoxicated jackasses start jumping into each other and the rest of the crowd who were there to enjoy the show and not act like a fool. It got so bad that George had to leave the floor for a bit and one of the women near me got slammed one too many times that she turned around and started beating the crap out of the biggest idiot offender of the night. Not that he felt much, given how stupid drunk he was. While it didn't affect my enjoyment of the music, it was a distraction that I had to be aware of as I tried to return my focus to the band and it realy just ticked me off.

One of my favorite songs from METAL CHURCH, lyrically speaking, is "No Friend of Mine" and when they started playing the track, it was really intense. Everything that made the song great in the studio release translated perfectly live. The song was extended with a guitar solo from Rick Van Zandt and Stet Howland's drum solo (where he played part of it on some empty beer bottles that broke and showered him and the stage area in shards of glass. (Hey, there's a song title for the next METAL CHURCH album..."Shards of Glass".) After the solos, METAL CHURCH brought the song to its fitting end and then returned to the new music with "The Black Things". I reviewed the album for KNAC.COM and hearing so many of these new songs live only made me love them that much more.

Mike Howe thanked the crowd after that song and then came "Beyond The Black" and set closer "By The Numbers". With the band so locked in on all fronts, each song raged and enraptured from start to finish. The band briefly left the stage and them came back for an encore of "Fake Healer". I could see the set list taped to the stage floor and there were a couple songs they ended up skipping that would've been great to hear but regardless of that fact, METAL CHURCH delivered a metallic sermon that only served to reaffirm my love of the band and managed to enhance it as well.

Set List

  • "Damned If You Do"
  • "Needle and Suture"
  • "Badlands"
  • "Gods Of A Second Chance"
  • "Start The Fire"
  • "No Friend Of Mine"
  • "Watch The Children Pray"
  • "The Black Things"
  • "Beyond The Black"
  • "By The Numbers"
  • "Fake Healer"
CONCERT FUN FACT: After their set, while the stage was being turned over for DORO's show, the band came out and met fans at the merch table. I was able to get my copy of Damned If You Do signed by the rest of the band (I had it signed by Stet at an in-store signing on the day it was released). I briefly spoke to Kurdt and Mike about the album (and threw in a little plug that I'd done the review for KNAC.COM.)


Until 2017, despite years of worshipping both her and her music, I'd never seen Doro Pesch live in concert. That night I saw her was amazing as she played the entire Triumph and Agony album in celebration of it's 30th anniversary. You'd think I'd be a little less full of adrenaline at the prospect of seeing The Metal Queen a second time, but nope I was completely jazzed up to see her hit the stage with her band for what was to be her last show on this current leg of the US tour.

Besides her regular musical compatriots, she was joined by guitarist Chris Caffery for this tour and if you have any idea how much I love SAVATAGE, then you'll know how much I was looking forward to seeing Caffery again. The last time I saw him live was for the SAVATAGE tour for their final album Poets and Madmen.

For this show, the set list contained a mix of the old and the new and as Doro came out (on the shoulders of one of the venue staff) to hit the stage you could feel the energy flowing from the crowd to the band and back again.

Taking no prisoners from the start with "I Rule The Ruins", Doro's band ramrodded their way through each number as they somehow managed to keep pace with her frenetic and boundlessly energetic presence. While Chris Caffery was located on the side of the stage furthest from me, watching Tommy Bolan rip his way through one riff, one solo after another was invigorating.

After whipping the crowd into a fist pumping frenzy with "Raise Your Fist In The Air", Doro launched into "Blood Sweat and Rock 'n' Roll", the first of two songs from her double album release Forever Warriors, Forever United. The song fit perfectly into the set and feels as if it has always been there waiting for people to hear.

Listening to Doro power through the new songs is amazing, but then the ante is upped when she turns the focus back to the classic songs. Such was the case with both "Burning The Witches" and "Hellbound". The songs hail from the earliest days of her band WARLOCK and yet they are as vibrant now as they were back then.

While I have to say that the song "The Night of the Warlock" hasn't quite stuck in my mind over the years like other songs, the track from the Fear No Evil album was given new life for me when it was performed on this night. Tommy Bolan added a wildly paced guitar solo to the song as well. From the Triumph and Agony album, the song "East Meets West" is another one of those perfect metallic anthems Doro does so well and each time I listen to it, whether on album or live, the song gets my heart racing.

Demonstrating the softer side of her musical nature, the German language "Fur Immer" was a brief slow down before Doro launched into her version of the JUDAS PRIEST song "Breaking The Law". As I said, this was the last night of her current US tour and with that, she brought out Mike Howe to make the song into a duet (there's video of it on Youtube). The song starts out almost as a ballad and does a complete run through the lyrics before the band kicks off the more rocking version of the song we all know and love and then it becomes a free-for-all. Stet Howland came back out and ended up playing the latter part of the song on the drums while both Steve Unger and Rick Van Zandt helped provided some backing vocals. It brought the crowd's excitement to an even higher level and then Doro crushed them all over again with "All For Metal".

No Doro show is complete without her performance of "All We Are" and unsurprisingly, the song closed out the concert. But that's where things took a turn for the weird. Before the start of the song, bassist Nick Douglas told Doro it was the last song. (Because it seemed the show was running over and the venue had some damn DJ or something supposed to be coming in for the college crowd). So the song was kicked off and became an extended version of itself. However, as the song was winding down the fire alarms went off! Yep, instead of setting the house on fire metaphorically, something happened to set the alarms off and without so much as a by-your-leave, the venue staff started rushing the audience out the door. The show was over! There's a lot more to that story but since there are a lot of conflicting stories that I actually was witness to hearing from various parties, I can't really say what is true and what isn't even though I have my own suspicions of what really happened. What I do know is that it was an abrupt ending to an utterly superb performance from Doro and the double bill of METAL CHURCH and the Metal Queen was simply magnificent.

Set List

  • "I Rule The Ruins"
  • "Earthshaker Rock"
  • "Raise Your Fist In The Air"
  • "Blood Sweat and Rock 'n' Roll"
  • "Burning The Witches"
  • "The Night of the Warlock"
  • "Hellbound"
  • "Metal Racer"
  • "East Meets West"
  • "Fur Immer"
  • "Breaking The Law" (Judas Priest cover)
  • "All For Metal"
  • "All We Are"
CONCERT FUN FACT: After the abrupt ending, George and I left the venue but hung around the tour bus we believed was Doro's. Turns out we were right in our guess. The band came out of the building and got onboard. Chris Caffery came out with two guitars and got on, but Tommy Bolan stayed outside for a bit and I got to take a photo with him and briefly chatted. This was going on while we were all trying to figure out what had happened as the police cars and fire engines came down the road to check things out.

METAL CHURCH's Rick Van Zandt came out across the street from the band's bus and talked and took photos with people, including me. He's one of the people that told their version of why the show ended like it did.

And then finally, the bus doors opened and Doro came outside! She shot a Facebook live video for her page to talk about the end of the tour, thank everyone and talk about the show ending with the arrival of lights and sirens. You can probably still see that video on her Facebook page along with a photo that she took with one of the police officers that was on scene (Scroll down to May 12th). After the video ended, Doro took the time to take photos with those waiting and after thirty-one years of fandom, I now have my picture with her. Needless to say, I was overjoyed to say the least. So again, all in all, despite the weird ending...this was an amazing night of metal music!


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