DIRKSCHNEIDER - Deep Cuts In The Big Apple!

February 27, 2018, a year ago

Mark Gromen

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North America has been seeing a lot of the former Accept singer lately, which is kind of odd, since for most of his U.D.O. solo days, he stayed away. Last year, and again this, under the banner of his surname, the gravel voiced, camouflage bedecked frontman will tour these shores, exclusively performing material from his old outfit. Wisely, this time around (the Gramercy Theater, in NYC kicked off the current five week long jaunt), the setlist was radically changed, albeit with certain "must play" hits still in the arsenal (reserved for the encore), surrounded by some rarely aired choices, either end of (but most released after) the holy Restless & Wild, Balls To The Wall, Metal Heart trinity.

"The Beast Inside" opened proceedings this night. A surprise, as not really a sure fire, all-guns blazing introduction. Friday night, most of the older crowd left their better half at home, for a night with the boys. Bit of a sausage party (or should that be bratwurst, in honor of Herr Dirkschneider?). If offered a buck for every guy, or $100 for each woman in attendance, would go for the dollar and still walk home a couple hundred ahead! "Aiming High", was up next. Would suggest they flip-flop of the initial pair, for more dramatic effect. Pounding "Bulletproof" shows why Udo drafted Bill Hudson as his latest six-string sniper, the guitarist bounds about the stage, something needed for a band that is rather stationary. The frontman prowls around, raising his left arm, puffing out his cheeks and occasionally, a head shake. Bassist Fitty Wienhold provides backing vocals.

"Midnight Mover" is the first "hit" on display, greeted with a grand ovation, like an old friend. While the opening trio were unexpected (at least so early), only the most diehard would have had "Another Second To Be" on their short list, yet there it was, riding it's chunky riffs to titular phrase of a release, come the chorus. After the obscure, some familiarity, with four across the front of the stage (including the now shirtless Hudson), for "London Leatherboys" and "Fight It Back" (apart from the title track, the only Balls To The Wall tracks performed). Have a sneaking suspicion that 99% of the attendees couldn't place the pained/strained vocal ballad "Can't Stand The Night" off the Breaker album. Great choice, as the slower/softer side of the Accept canon are criminally overlooked. Ditto "Amamos la Vida", from the '96 Accept reunion record Objection Overruled.

Back on familiar ground, green lights and strobes accent "Living For Tonite", the crowd adding their collective voice, as the running order remains fan favorites, through to the end. Blues and pulsating strobes, as it's four at the front again, for the headbanging/nearly thrash intensity of "Breaker". As advertised, "Up To The Limit" keeps the tempo and energy high. "Screaming For A Love Bite" and blue/purple bathed "Love Child" follow, plenty of audience participation throughout. The latter affords Hudson his first solo spotlight. A speedy "Objection Overruled" sees Fitty headbanging and "Russian Roulette" ends the proper set.

The band briefly disappears off the stage, but quickly returns for an all-star encore, beginning with crowd shouted and gold lit "Princess Of The Dawn", the three string musicians right out front. Red/blue lights for "Metal Heart", the fans singing all the guitar harmonies. The powerful and shrill Dirkschneider voice would be impressive for a man half his age. Hudson shows some flash, with an exaggerated, hammer-on filled solo that leaves him alone onstage, before the band returns, to complete the song. Udo, who rarely talks between tunes, said, "The next song begins 'hi de hi do'." Eventually, the fans take up the chant. Cue blistering "Fast As A Shark", Hudson and guitar partner Andrey Smirnov tearing through this red & blue hued speedster. It ends with Hudson playing his guitar overhead. No secret, the Hudson begun "Balls To The Wall" will be the parting shot. No matter, the crowd thrusts fists in the air and sings along. At one point, Udo feigns hard of hearing, hand cupped to his ear, egging the audience for an even bigger response to the titular chorus, before he crows the same, one last time.   

Hard charging Aussie traditional metallers Elm Street are touring support. It's not their first time this side of Pacific, having played down the street, at the now dormant Webster Hall, with Night Demon & Skull Fist, back in '15. Just like the Knock 'Em Out...With A Metal Fist album, things begin with "Face The Reaper" and "Kiss The Canvas", whizzing by in a flurry of activity: the guys flailing themselves around the limited stage, hair flying and plenty of speedy guitar notes. Most of the set is culled from the aforementioned CD. The standout "Heavy Metal Power" followed "Elm Street's Children". In fact, the only misstep was a red lit cover of Quiet Riot's "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)", not really something the hardcore Accept/Dirkschneider fans would consider necessary. Fun band enjoying their time abroad.

BraveWords will bookend the tour, taking in the final night, in Philadelphia (on April 8th), as well. Until then, go see the show yourself.

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