New all-female hard rock band DORJA made their live debut this past week, with three gigs including a festival appearance at PKD in Dalgety Bay, Scotland. The band were only formed earlier this summer and feature three former members of The Sex Pissed Dolls. Despite that, the musical direction of this outfit leans more towards classic hard rock rather than the punk the girls had been known for until now. The band have already released a single (‘Fire’) as a download, recorded in LA where drummer Anna Mylee and vocalist Aiym Almas have been based for the past year. With the remaining band members (bass player Becky Baldwin, plus guitarists Holly Henderson and Rosie Botterill) based in the UK, it was the turn of the drummer and singer to make the trip ‘across the pond’ to play their first gigs in this country.
The Wagon and Horses is a pub sited in Digbeth, close to the centre of Birmingham and near other well-known venues such as the o2 Institute, and the Irish Centre. They were playing as part of a multi-band bill, but were the only hard rock band on the bill while the rest of the bill was more punk-orientated. Days before these gigs took place, the band had posted on their Facebook page that their singer had been suffering from laryngitis, and was in a race against time to get fit enough to play these dates. She’s been described as having ‘the raw energy to challenge Janis Joplin’ and certainly delivered a powerful vocal on the single, but in order to play these dates the rest of the band helped her out by taking vocals on the cover tunes they performed amongst their own, newly-written material.
I caught some of the other acts on the bill but if I’m honest, as good as the Terrorsaurs were (a three-piece who each wore scary Slipknot-style masks but sounded more like The Hamsters live), I was there for DORJA mainly. That seemed to be the case for most as the venue (an outdoor terrace at the back of the pub with only a canopy covering the stage and terrace) filled up the closer it got to the girls’ stage time. They eventually got on stage at around 9:30 and ran through a nine-song set, including four covers and with ‘Fire’ performed last. Their own material went over well, with Aiym still sounding strong despite her illness. She has a really soulful bluesy voice and I look forward to seeing her again firing on all cylinders. On one of their own numbers, she traded vocal with Anna Mylee (‘do you know any other singing drummers?’ asked Aiym – well yes, thought I – I saw one very famous one only last month!) and for their cover of Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge of Seventeen’, she handed lead vocal to Holly Henderson. Holly feigned trepidation (you were feigning it, weren’t you Holly? 😉 ) but gave a great delivery of the classic track while fellow guitarist Rosie Botterill provided the ‘chug-a-chug-a’ guitar riff throughout.
I did notice that the lead solos were more evenly split in this band than was the case with the Dolls; the majority of the lead guitar was handled by Rosie in that band while Holly gave them a very solid footing with her heavy rhythm sound. However both are capable lead players and it’s likely that this outfit will allow the former Kitty Vacant more chance to shine. Rosie took lead vocal on ‘Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight’, which was originally performed by… Spın̈al Tap!
Anna Mylee’s time in LA has, she says, taught her a lot and she gave a superb performance behind the kit; she locked in superbly with Becky Baldwin. Indeed, although the musicians are all in their 20s there was a good deal of experience on that stage, with the three former Dolls having played many gigs and Becky already a veteran of several other bands even before forming this one. They ended with ‘Fire’ and a reprise of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ before departing the stage to big cheers. Many present had travelled some distance to support the girls in this venture, and the ex-Dolls were clearly delighted to find they had not been forgotten by fans of their previous band.
This was only their second gig but they showed a lot of promise; you’d never have thought that they’d only got together for the second time a week previously in order to play these dates. On speaking to Anna following the set, she told me that the plans are to record and release a full album towards the end of the year and schedule a more comprehensive tour of the UK in 2017. I’ll be there to see them whatever happens, but there are some cool venues in this part of the world as well, ladies!