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Doro with Chris Caffery in Houston

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Friday, July 6, 2007 @ 8:22 AM


At the Meridian

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Now I’ve seen a lot of shows in my day, but nothing could have prepared me to witness what was probably one of the best live shows I have ever seen. In the closing stages of her first US tour in about 15 years, the undeniable Queen of Metal that is Doro Pesch came to Houston for a raucous, fist pumping, head banging night at Meridian, a fairly recent newcomer in the Houston musical venue market. I have always loved her music and voice but unfortunately had never had the opportunity to see her perform live, so as soon as I heard she was coming months ago I had to mark the date on my calendar.

Meridian is an interesting venue, with the upstairs having two separate ‘concert’ areas of differing size, one with a very small stage and the other being much larger. From what I understand, just about the entire downstairs is another concert area. So, the club can handle a multitude of acts of varying popularity. Surprisingly, someone thought the best place for this particular show was in the smallest area of the three, called the Red Room, which had a stage that looked to be about the size of a soapbox. Seriously though, the stage could not have been more than about 15’ x 15’. Being that there were 4 bands on the bill, the opening bands had to take great care not to trip over each other.

First up was a local band called The Final Plague. Fellow Pure Rocker Stephen Bowering and I entered the show as they were on so we only managed to catch the last 2 songs I believe. Musically I thought they sounded really good but growling vocals just aren’t my cup of tea. Next up was another Houston based band that, unlike the first, is beginning to make a really good name for itself in the international progressive rock arena, that band being Azrael’s Bane. I was quite surprised actually to see that they were on the bill, considering that I had received a Myspace bulletin the previous day courtesy of drummer Rick Ward that stated that the band was forced to cancel their appearance with Doro. I had reviewed the band’s debut CD, Wings of Innocence here at KNAC.COM but hadn’t been to any of their shows of late so it was good to get to see them again. Azrael’s played a great set that was entirely too short (4 or 5 songs I believe). However, the band encountered some ‘mechanical difficulties’ in the form of a malfunctioning bass drum kick pedal which required a few minutes to fix and probably led to the band’s final song being dropped.

They did manage to play a cut or two from their sophomore release which is due out this fall and if the songs they previewed were any indication of the quality then this will be 2 quality releases in a row for them.

After another quick changeover it was time for Chris Caffery. The last time I had met and seen Chris was in 2001 when Savatage was out on tour with Fates Warning and they played at the illustrious 19th Hole Club (sarcasm mode on). Chris came out and played a nicely energetic set with his backing band and played material from his newest release, Pins and Needles, as well as treating the fans to a couple of Savatage tunes, “Edge of Thorns” and “Wake of Magellan”. All in all a fantastic set by Chris.

Finally, at 9:45, the Queen of Metal took the stage to a thunderous roar from the sparse but vocal crowd. Launching into her set with “Earthshaker Rock” she played an hour and a half set of songs spanning her entire 20+ year musical career, from her days with Warlock through all of her solo albums. Doro, as well as her entire band (featuring Chris Caffery on guitar), displayed an energy that I have rarely seen. Doro worked the crowd perfectly, getting the fists pumping and crowd chanting “Hey! Hey! Hey!” about 2 dozen times throughout the set. And she looked great! There was little downtime between songs as she kept the momentum going with classic tracks like “Burning the Witches”, “True as Steel”, “Hellraiser” and even the Judas Priest classic “Breaking the Law” before closing out her initial set with the Warlock anthem “All We Are”. After a brief interlude the band returned for “Warrior Soul” and “East Meets West” before calling it a night. Unbeknownst to those in attendance, Doro had been under the weather for the entire show, with the only inkling that something wasn’t right being the observation of her downing what appeared to be medication at various times in between songs. As it turns out, there were actually 4 additional encores on the setlist that were not played because of this. It turned out to be a good thing for her though, for immediately following the show she lost her voice completely! After about an hour wait outside her bus, she finally emerged to sign a few items and take some pics but she could not speak above a whisper. We got our collectibles and left for the evening.

I gotta give huge props to Doro for being such a Rock-n-Roll Trooper. She could have easily thrown in the towel and not performed this show but she stuck it out and delivered an absolute top notch performance! The woman truly loves her fans and it shows. Also, props to the staff at Meridian. This was my first excursion to this venue and I found the staff there to be some of the most friendly I have ever encountered! I look forward to many more shows there. As for the attendance at the show, HOUSTON, WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU? I understand that there was a major wrestling event occurring in town tat same night a few blocks down the street, but c’mon people, give me a great rock show over wrestling any night of the week! In addition, as I have ranted about over the past several years that I have been doing these articles from Houston, there seems to be a serious problem with show promotion. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the problem lies, whether it be with the bands, venues or promoters, but there is definitely a problem. I would guess that there were around 100 or so people at this show, which I don’t necessarily mind because it means I get a better position in front of the stage, but it sucks for the bands to come out and see just a few rows of people in front. Given the fact that Doro had not been to Houston in over a decade I would have thought more people would attend. Evidently not. And for those of you who missed the shows on this tour, I guess you will have to wait until next time as the last night of the tour would be 2 days later, in Tennessee.

Doro Setlist:

  • Earthshaker Rock
  • I Rule the Ruins
  • You’re My Family
  • Burning the Witches
  • True as Steel
  • Above the Ashes
  • Hellbound
  • Hellraiser
  • Metal Racer
  • Strangers Yesterday
  • Fur Immer
  • Burn It Up
  • Breaking the Law (Priest!)
  • All We Are
Encores:

  • Warrior Soul
  • East Meets West
  • Fight *
  • Love Me in Black *
  • Unholy Love *
  • Haunted Heart *
      * Encores listed on the setlist but not performed.



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