The Donnas – Scala, London

The Donnas stop over in London to remind us girls can rock too.

The Donnas

As the excitement builds, the annoyingly tall designer-suited guy in front of me leans to his ‘rocker’ mate in a faded Ramones T-shirt and asks ‘So what do these guys sound like?’ He is told casually that the band are ‘female AC/DC wannabes’. My casual eavesdropping implants a thought that bugs me throughout the show.

Transmute the gender, take away the precocious extended guitar solos, and are you left with the sound of AC/DC as performed a la The Donnas? Maybe it is the implied supposition that because a female band are playing ‘men’s rock music’ it’s immediately inferior to the ‘real thing’.

The Donnas chose a tough path for themselves, but they have sweated and grafted for their true passion, overcoming all the obstacles, no least the already mentioned gender bias. The dividends have been slow in coming, but as the show unfolds tonight I’m convinced that The Donnas are nearing the zenith of a long gradient.

After a lacklustre Black Box Recorder and a hugely underwhelming The Thrills it was good to get back to a gig that rocked; where the people jump about and the atmosphere is laced with fun and excitement. The Donnas are a band who thrive on their live performances. They tour almost incessantly, and have been doing so for the last five years.

The experience shows, but the zeal and edge are maintained. They really make you feel that they are enjoying themselves, not just pretending so. They also clearly thrive on their ‘bad college girl’ image, with every song seeming in some way to reference drunkenness, sex or duping of the male gender, often all three together. The image is definitely a part of their appeal (hey, they not exactly ugly!), and they know how to use it to their advantage, but the music is the important thing, and their ballsy, riff-laden punk rock is catchy enough and loud enough to satisfy those with the appetite.

They storm through eleven of the thirteen rockers on new album “Spend The Night”, and all of them are of very high calibre. The lack of older material is a shame, especially when The Donnas have some real gems in their back catalogue (no “40 Boys In 40 Nights”!). But hey, they are here on promotion duties so we can’t really complain. Admittedly every song follows the same formula, but The Donnas are still able to add the all-important twist to each individual platter to make it just fresh and varied enough not to become stagnant.

As the set draws to a close with one of the best new tracks from the forthcoming album “5 o’clock In The Morning”, there’s a split second where Donna R rides her guitar solo, I close my eyes, and it’s AC/DC on stage and not The Donnas. I look over to locate ‘Mr Designer Suit’, as though the moment I have been waiting for has given me the power to challenge him, but I cannot see the schmuck, he’s gone. In future I won’t hesitate. The Donnas rock. Period.

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