ACCEPT EXCLUSIVE - Restless & Wild In Manchester, UK!
January 14, 2017, a year ago
The irony doesn't escape me: a German band (although all the principles now reside in the USA) touching down in England, under the backdrop of a Swedish outfit who write about the historical horrors of military conflict. Brexit aside, thankfully the geo-political climate in Europe is a lot rosier these days. Unbelievable, but within eight days, witnessed both Accept and their former frontman, albeit on different continents! Although there have been many headlining gigs, especially since the reformation, had't seen Accept open for anyone since Kiss, in Pittsburgh, March of '84.
The futuristic set, made of mock steel, electronic panels and loads of yellow caution (police crime scene) tape, severely restricted the amount of room Accept had to move, especially since almost half the vacancy was dedicated to Christopher Williams' massive drum kit, complete with gong. No worries, like any Manhattan architect, if you don't have the land to expand, build up and the band (for the first time) featured risers, at the front of the stage, from which a good portion of the show was delivered. In addition to the stylish facade, there were also 10 compressed carbon dioxide cannons, located beneath the floor of the risers and behind the labyrinth of walls which frequently sent mini-mushroom clouds skyward, often firing the entire volley at once.
The opening “Stampede” makes good use of the smokey plumes, as the band launch into the first post-reformation number in this abbreviated, but almost 50-50 split (old vs. new), 10-song stretch. “Stalingrad” is followed by “Restless And Wild”, where it's evident Mark Tornillo is much more comfortable in his role, interacting with both audience and guitarist Wolf Hoffmann, moving about the stage, up on the risers and knowing how to occupy space when not the vocal/visual center of attention. “London Leatherboys” (well we're close, in Manchester) is blue hued, with plenty of strobes. Hoffmann and mainstay bassist Peter Baltes often congregate together, either the guitarist's side of the stage, or more frequently, atop one of the risers. Such is the case during “Final Journey”, is a two guitar showcase (with newbie Uwe Lulis) under a hail of strobes. Tornillo front and center, is often alone, even venturing beyond the monitors, to the stage edge, with the fans.
The audience, adorned in Sabaton tees, recognizes and claps along to the trademark notes announcing “Princess Of The Dawn”, as the lights alternate between red and yellow. Wolf mounts the riser, beneath a yellow spotlight, eventually joined by Peter as the two rock out. Mark is at the side of the stage, offering some windmill air guitaring. Come the actual lyrics, the crowd chants the titular chorus and the band provide four part backing harmony. The pre-recorded, scratchy Tyrolean melody causes the English to break into a ditty their grandparents surely would never uttered, kick starting “Fast As A Shark”. Cannonading drums, evident of an upgrade in this department!A blitz of white strobes and blue accents,, the guitar tone is wickedly heavy. Twin leads on the riser, Lulis' lone moment atop one of the stage front boxes, partnered with Hoffmann. It ends in a thick envelop of smoke, completely obscuring the band. Truthfully, the band could have ended here and no one would have complained, it was the high point.
Smoke cleared, Tornillo asks, “Are you having fun?” “So are we,” laughs Wolf. Without prompting, the crowd picks up the “Whoa whoa” rhythm in “Metal Heart”, a song which sees Tornillo get a couple of chances to duck offstage (for a breather). Wolf toys with the fans, alternating between individual notes and their response. In fact, much of the song is performed by the fans, utilizing “whoa whoa” rather than lyrics, as Baltes' bass line is the only sound heard from the stage. It ends with Chris bashing drums and gong (with hand) and leads directly into “Teutonic Terror”. Hoffmann is on the center riser, to begin the set closing “Balls To The Wall”, capping a rousing live introduction to Accept, for many of these UK residents, both young and old alike.
Finely honed, after three of months in Europe, it's time for a long overdue return to their adoptive homeland (plus Canada) and by then, a new studio album, fingers crossed. Accept 2017remains a potent live force, not to be missed. Experience it firsthand, when they come nearby. If not at all possible, at least check out the just issued Restless & Live DVD/CD. Accept is metal!