Filmed, edited, and released within a month. That has to be some sort of record, as this live DVD by all-girl cover band The Sex Pissed Dolls was in my hands just four weeks after I’d attended the show where it was filmed. 2015 has been the year of the Dolls; formed in early 2014 after an idea kicked about by a North West-based singer and her manager, the line-up of singer Nancy Doll, guitarists Connie Rotter and Kitty Vacant, bassist Jilly Idol and drummer Anna Key have gigged heavily on a tour dubbed the ‘Never Needed Bollocks Tour’, taking in venues up and down the country including a prestigious run of o2 Academy halls.
The band, despite the (magnificent) name, play punk and new wave covers from not just the Sex Pistols, but from a variety of acts mainly covering the 1976-1980 era. One or two from more recent times have made their set, but their extensive live gigging has earned them a devoted following calling itself the ‘Dolls Barmy Army’. I’ve caught the girls live myself on a staggering eleven occasions to date, and that is nothing compared to some who think nothing of traversing the country to see the Dolls live wherever they may pitch up. But who are the Dolls? Coming from a variety of backgrounds, singer Nancy Doll was previously well-known for her Amy Winehouse tribute act, while bassist Jilly Idol has extensive gigging experience in covers bands alongside her guitarist husband. Blonde lead guitarist Connie Rotter is only in her early 20s yet has several years’ live work under her belt, while Kitty Vacant has only just turned 20 but is a multi-talented musician and artist. When not being a Doll she paints, plays piano and guitar, and writes her own songs. When she IS being a Doll, it’s hard-hitting heavy rhythm guitar providing the metaphorical ‘bollocks’ to the band’s sound – as opposed to the unnecessary real ones (!)
The background of Anna Key is a little more difficult to explain; you see the ‘Anna Key’ who appears on this DVD had only just joined the band (this was only her second gig as a Doll, unbelievably) replacing previous drummer, also called Anna Key! The original Anna hailed from Belgium, was based in London and was a highly-regarded drummer, but after some months gigging with the Dolls she was offered the opportunity to relocate to Hollywood, where she currently resides and is now going under the name ‘Anna Mylee’. Meanwhile the brand new Key (sorry!) was recruited just before this landmark show and in a baptism of fire, played one show with the Dolls before the big one at Warrington. Anna Mk II proved to be a revelation to the punters who came to the Parr Hall, sounding like she’d been there all along, so well did she fit in.
This show was long in the planning, with Warrington being chosen presumably because of ease of access to the motorway network. Many Dolls Barmy Army devotees had come from all over the country to attend, whereas for yours truly it was a short trip along the A57. I’d actually chosen this gig over a previously-booked gig in Birmingham by Delain (one of my current favourite bands), and this date clashed with at least two other gigs I’d liked to have attended as well. The fact it was going to be filmed for DVD was what made me plump for this show, and that it was the culmination of several months’ hard work by the band, and their manager Paul Smith.
The DVD came in a bright yellow case, a single disc and with no frills whatsoever. Well, it was the ‘Never Needed Bollocks Tour’ after all! Pop the disc in, press ‘play’ and the first thing you see are vox pop interviews with some punters outside the Parr Hall. Many of these punters are veterans of the Dolls pit themselves, then you see the Dolls themselves backstage before they walk out onto the Warrington stage. The camera is trained on the steps as each band member walks out one at a time (the slinky walk from Jilly Idol is worth the watch in itself!) led by Connie Rotter, who opens the set with ‘Pretty Vacant’.
The production of this DVD focuses on getting the basics right; no clever effects, no jazzy angles, no grainy black and white inserts, again no ‘bollocks’ – just straightforward live footage from several viewpoints, focusing on Nancy where required, concentrating on Connie when it’s a lead solo, occasional shots from the crowd or of the crowd, cutting to different viewpoints and to shots of different members at a sensible (not TOO pacy) rate. As a result, the producers have pulled off the difficult trick of recreating on video the atmosphere and energy of a live Dolls performance. What becomes clear watching this show in the comfort of the sofa, is how good a live performer Nancy Doll is. She adopts the styles of the various vocalists she covers with ease while putting her own stamp on the whole thing. She is very energetic on stage, this DVD also shows what a good singer she is. Following the live footage there are a few shots of the girls posing with their fans post-gig, a few more fan soundbites, then the credits.
For any member of the Dolls Barmy Army this is an essential buy, for those still wavering about them or for those yet to catch them live, this DVD should convince even the most sceptical. 2016 looks set to be even bigger for the Dolls with festival dates (including an opening slot at the Isle of Wight festival!) already coming in. Get in now, before they go really huge!
To order the DVD it is £12 plus £3 P&P (UK residents) via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.