DIRKSCHNEIDER - New York City Tour Kickoff More Than ACCEPT-able!

January 9, 2017, 5 months ago

By Mark Gromen

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Manhattan is used to foreigners making a racket early in New Year, but not typically a heavy metal icon blasting his way through a classic back catalog. In this case, former Accept frontman, Udo Dirkschneider, who stopped at Stage 48 to growl through a lengthy set of the well loved 80s selections (and a few surprises). The Little General claims this will be the last time (however long the current world tour takes, already on year #2) he'll ever include Accept songs in his live performances, hereafter restricting content to his U.D.O. solo material. Needless to say, the concept is a winner, especially with the long gap in domestic appearances by the current Wolf Hoffmann/Peter Baltes led Accept (who have played just a half dozen American dates since the fall of 2012!).

In a rare example of life imitates art, the two dozen tracks aired in NYC exactly duplicate of the recent AFM release, Back To The Roots (recorded onstage, in Germany, April '16). After opening with "Starlight", "Living For Tonite" sees four across the front of the oft blue/purple lit stage, with camo (like his outfit) designed backdrop, his surname emblazoned on the electronic screen overhead. Staring at the jumbo print, noticed the 5 consecutive consonant run, in Dirkschneider. Strange to see a performer, who I've witnessed in front of thousands, in an intimate venue (couple hundred). Following "Flash Rocking Man", the stage was black, for "London Leatherboys" apart from a pair of crossing yellow streams of light. Introducing "Midnight Mover" was the first interruption in the sonic barrage and maybe the first recognizable song for some in attendance. North American fans tend to be fixated on Balls to The Wall and Metal Heart as the pivotal albums. A gray hair/beard crowd (myself included), it's doubtful there was anyone under 30 unaccompanied by their parents. Odd, since the resurrected Accept has crossed over to a younger generation, perhaps in part due to their touring partners (Sabaton, Kreator, etc.). Like youngsters, still far too many folks enthralled by the prospect of capturing all/part of the night on their cellphones.

A "solo" by bassist Fitty Wienhold led into the telltale notes of "Head Over Heels", complete with three backing vocalist, rendered unnecessary by the plethora of voices in the crowd. In omnipresent fog, shirtless and leather vested Andrey Smirnov, with zebra striped guitar, was alone, under green lights to start "Neon Nights". Eventually joined by the rest of the band, including Udo's kid, Sven, pounding out the rhythms on drums. The Alcohol Boys, Smirnov and guitar partner Kasperi Heikkinen stood together, center stage, giving a teaser of "Princess Of The Dawn", the fans singing the guitar chord changes. The titular chorus of this chugging, mid-tempo classic is delivered by the assemblage, at one point, an extended a cappella rendition. Overall, the fans go ape shit, but wonder how many have also seen/heard Mark Tornillo.

Udo puffs out his cheeks, somewhere between a Donald Duck impersonation saying "Phew" and (for those in the know) Cornelius' expression of amazement/exasperation in the original Planet Of The Apes films. The slower/subtle "Winterdreams" is a welcome/unexpected nugget, although it doesn't fair well, a few heads bobbing in reverence (but not real recognition). A red lit "Restless & Wild" gets things revving again, lights sweeping the stage and follow-up "Son Of A Bitch" keeps the old school momentum rolling. From here on, the rest of the proper set hits the Metal Heart/Russian Roulette era pretty hard (not one of my favorites), interspersing the likes of "Up To The Limit" and perpetual strobe flashing "TV War" with an equally commercial sounding "Midnight Highway" (plenty of strobes and triple backing vox) and the speedy "Losers And Winners" closer.

Back for the encore, returning to the stage with the prerecorded intro to "Metal Heart". A short, punky "I'm A rebel" sees sweeping pink spotlights, as Fitty pogos across the stage and the guitarist engage in a bit of synchronized moves, six-strings vertical. The later portion turns into a giant sing-along, both in front and on the stage. Like a conductor, under red lights, the diminutive frontman waggled his fingers back and forth, as the crowd sang an extended version of the Tyrolean ditty that introduces "Fast As A Shark', the melody broken by Udo's scream (replacing the record scratching heard on the studio version). The proto-thrashers is greeted with a storm of strobes and plenty of banging heads. After this, "Balls To The Wall" is almost anticlimactic, so leave it to a blazing "Burning" to end the evening.

Not sure if you'll have the opportunity to see this tour again (hopeful, but doubtful), so check it out. If not, at least pick up a couple of the double disc and re-live the experience.

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