ACCEPT – Metal Hearts, No Regrets In New York

September 27, 2017, a year ago

Mark Gromen

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Although I caught the Nashville-based German metallers in Manchester, UK, earlier this year (Wow, that sounds like a George Thorogood lyric: "Met a German girl in England who was going to school in France, said we danced the Mississippi at an Alpha Kappa dance"), apart from a handful of sporadic dates, it's been five years since most in North America had the privilege of seeing Accept live. Instead of a massive outdoor venue, like Wacken, where original guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and frenetic bassist Peter Baltes would look no bigger than a raisin, Irving Plaza is an up-close & intimate room, where you can see all their facial expressions. Most of the time, it's an ear-to-ear grin. Chris Williams is the first onstage, just a few pieces of the mechanized stage props able to fit on the small stage. In fact, it can barely hold four adults, standing abreast.

"Die By The Sword", off the Rise Of Chaos CD, kicks things off, continuing the reformation's tradition of a new track opening the show. During "Stalingrad" singer Mark Tornillo, back home, in the Tristate area, held the wireless mic horizontally, to pantomime a piccolo, like the Spirit Of 1776. Talk about metal, he wore a pair of studded belts around his waist. Ditto Wolf, whose guitar strap also had rivets. "Restless And Wild", up third, is the first oldie aired, plenty of opportunity for Wolf to ham it up, pulling faces throughout. There's a lot of Wolf/Peter interaction (as would be expected), but also with Tornillo, now fully integrated into the live show. Cue "London Leatherboys". Even new guitarist Uwe Lulis has a few moments in the spotlight, like the purple hued "Living For Tonite", where he's given the lead. Tornillo emphasizes the titular chorus with an extra gruff, Udo growl.

Following, the singer comments how nice it is to be "home", introducing a sequence of new Chaos material, beginning with green lit, strobe flashing title track. Tornillo got the audience to clap along to "Koolaid", many in the crowd old enough to remember the original Jim Jones/People's Temple incident. Wolf lays down a repeating, AC/DC style riff, come the chorus. "No Regrets" begins with the band in darkness, backlit. The aggressive number sees the two guitarist’s center stage, churning out twin leads. "Analog Man", another track much of the audience seemed to identify with (given the big response), sees Tornillo (now minus shades) swaying his arms overhead. Vocally, it's all hands on deck, at times, five part harmony. "Final Journey" has Wolf wailing way, as the crowd begins to sing the guitar leads. I've heard that in Europe, but rarely, if ever, over here. Mark dedicated a more subdued and mid-tempo "Shadow Soldiers" to the NYPD and first responders. Hoffmann is out front, while the rest of the band hangs near the drum riser. It ends with a completely black stage.

When the lights came up, there's Wolf, alone onstage, in spotlight. Brief interlude of his classical music, into "Neon Nights", with a demented, deep guitar grind and old school, feedback inducing guitar solo. Accordingly, there were bring pinks, blues and purples. Ending, much like it began, with the guitarist center stage, cranking. "Who feels like it's 1982 at L'Amours," asks Tornillo to start "Princess Of The Dawn". The fans sang the titular chorus. At times, Wolf's guitar notes practically mimic the lyrical progression. The crowd might have been older, but they definitely got a second wind, once the vintage material got rolling, like the green lit "Midnight Mover".

"Up To The Limit" sees Baltes still headbanging, his hair flopping like a Muppet, as the bassist slots in next to Hoffmann. "Objection Overruled", a track from the initial ‘90s reformation with Udo, is an unexpected, but welcome selection. Think I've seen them over dozen times since Mark joined, but it's the first time I've heard that one. The speedy blues number sees Mark and Uwe leave the stage, so that the two "old-timers" can play off one another, with 4/4 drum backing. "Pandemic" might be "new" (i.e. since reforming w/ Tornillo), but it kicks like a vintage ‘80s Accept. The stage goes blank, once completed, only for the darkness to be broken by the sound of a scratchy Tyrolean ditty. "Fast As A Shark" creates a makeshift mosh pit. No canes, walkers nor oxygen tanks were involved. Twin guitar leads are again, front & center before the band says "good night."

They weren't really finished, as "Metal Heart", with Wolf's stop/start riffs, is predominately sung by the audience. This might have been THE song this crowd wanted to hear, although evening closer "Balls To The Wall" would rival any such claim. Williams gets a bit of a "solo", complete with storm of strobes, as the sustaining guitars transition to blue/purple bathed "Teutonic Terror", Baltes' bass leading the way. At varying points, both the singer and guitarist lead the fans in thrusting fists skyward. Hoffmann exaggerates the pick sliding down the strings to commence the aforementioned "Balls". Ran through the lighting options, mostly red and strobes, with the throng adding their voices to the "whoa whoa" portion. Continue to be amazed at the quality of the new material, not just being a touring legacy act. Speaking of which, isn't it time (overdue?) for a full blown North America jaunt? The cost of traveling across the globe, every few months, to see a single Accept show is hurting the wallet, but No Regrets.

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