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Sunday, 08 April 2018 17:47

Return of the Leech

Published in Underground News Written by
Saturday, 24 March 2018 13:57

Dirkschneider - Live In Vancouver - March 18, 2018

Published in Underground News Written by



Accept what we do

This message to you

Is rock forever and ever

We’ve still got the feel

The music is real

And we’ll rock ‘n’ roll forever, forever”


These lyrics that make up the chorus of the song “Feelings,” originally written by Accept for their 1981 album “Breaker,” so perfectly represents what true Heavy Metal is all about. The challenge of building up and running a band like this amongst all the pressure to conform to trends; the financial difficulties brought about by bad record contracts and sleazy managers; and the risks of stiff competition created by a business model that only allows a small few to rise to the top – all of these things have made life hard for the musician for as long as there has been a music business. Listening to Udo Dirkschneider sing these lyrics in a way only he can really takes these same old themes and amplifies them to the maximum. Any genre that insists on being so loud and proud will often have to face these difficulties in equal measure, and Accept were more than up to the task of cutting through that bullshit to keep going. Dirkschneiders gruff vocal delivery was a very important component of this musical onslaught, and when it was announced that he and his solo group – also called Dirkschneider - would be coming to Vancouver to play a show made up entirely of those classic Udo era Accept tracks for the very last time, I knew that I had to go.

Tickets were bought quickly, and when the morning of January 19, 2017 came around, I was already playing those classic tracks as a way to stoke my excitement for the show. Then I got the bad news via text from my brother-in-law around noon – the show was cancelled! The band had been trapped on a highway in Oregon by a sudden snow storm and there was no way they would be able to get out in time to make it to Vancouver that evening. It was starting to look like we wouldn’t get to see the original voice of Accept sing those classic songs after all. As great as Accept had been when they first played at the Rickshaw Theatre with their new singer Mark Tornillo in 2012, it still wasn’t the same without Udo Dirkschneider behind the mic. Thankfully they announced that there would be a second leg of their North American tour in 2018, called “Back To The Roots Tour Part 2” and a Vancouver date was scheduled for March 18. The morning of March 18 began just like January 19, 2017 did, with one major difference - there was no bad news of cancellations to interrupt me as I cranked those same classic songs.

The first opening band scheduled to play was Rebel Priest, a local hard working band that was about to premiere a few brand new songs they had been working on. Doing this at a high profile gig was the kind of ballsy move that showed how ready they were to take the necessary risks that any serious band has to take in order to stand out. The three new songs, “Really Heavy” “Release The Fire,” and “Space Hookers,” did have a different sound to them, somewhat bluesier and heavier would be a good general description, but the rest of the crowd still seemed to enjoy them as much as I did. This new sound blended in quite well with “Blade Runner” “Giants Of Texas” “Blood and Sands” and “London Soho” which have became familiar staples of their live shows. It’s unfortunate that their set was only about thirty minutes, and it would’ve been nice to have seen more people there to watch it, but that’s how it goes for opening bands who come on first. Still a very worthwhile performance that gave the audience a good idea of what’s ahead for Rebel Priest, who are currently working on a new album.

Next up was Elm Street, an Australian band who was making their Vancouver debut. Before I go any further, I want to say that there was a lot to like about their performance. Very energetic with great musicianship. There were more people in the audience for their set, and from what I could see, the reception was very positive. With that out of the way, I have to be honest about why I wasn’t as enthusiastic about it; they sound a lot like Children Of Bodom. I’m a pretty big fan of early Bodom, which by my definition ranges from “Something Wild” through “Are You Dead Yet,” and there were a few too many times where they would play something that sounded a little too much like the songs from those first five studio albums. At least they didn’t have a keyboardist; that would have been too much. I suppose I have to give them credit for picking the best era of COB to use as a musical guideline to follow. The highlight of their set for me was the well executed cover of “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot.

As the sound crew was finishing their soundcheck, the Rickshaw Theatre was full of fans anticipating the show they had been waiting over a year to see. Then the lights went down and “Fire” by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown played over the PA as a sort of warning to prepare us for what was to come. Just as the song was ending, members of the band emerged on stage. Now it was time. The musical assault began with “The Beast Inside,” a surprising but still very fitting choice to set the tone for the evening. Dirkschneider had been saying that this second leg of the tour would feature a few changes in the setlist which would include some songs from the 90’s. As good as those three reunion era albums were, the musical landscape in North America had changed, and like many other previously popular Heavy Metal bands from the 80’s, they found their work being meet with much less reception than before. I have to give him credit for not ignoring this time period. “The Beast Inside” “Bulletproof” “Amamos La Vida” and “Objection Overruled” sounded every bit as good along side 80’s classics like “Midnight Mover,” “Fight It Back,” “London Leatherboys,” “Breaker,” and “Love Child.”

The band was laying down a tight performance and Udo was in good voice, propelling them forward and locking in the crowd with several more choice cuts like “Aiming High” “Living For Tonite” “Another Second To Be” “Can’t Stand The Night” (one of my favourite Accept ballads) “Up To The Limit” “Screaming For A Love Bite” and “Russian Roulette.” Both guitarists had a few occasions to show off with solos that didn’t carry on too long or diminish the excitement of the crowd. As they left the stage to take a breather before the encore, there wasn’t any doubt what songs they were saving for last. Up to this point, everybody in the audience, from those on the floor to those in the seated section in the back had not only heard but also literally felt the well organized rebellious noise that Dirkschneider had been pumping out into the venue. As they came back out and finished off with “Princess Of The Dawn” “Metal Heart” “Fast As A Shark” and “Balls To The Wall,” they somehow managed to increase the intensity of this experience just a little bit more. Audience participation is pretty much mandatory when any anthemic numbers are played, and he gave us plenty of opportunities to join in. It felt like he may have got us to sing along a few more times than usual, which was probably done to reinforce the significance of what he would be leaving behind after this show was over.

The band members who joined Udo Dirkschneider on stage may have been different this time around, but that feel of real Heavy Metal music that Accept had first written about in 1981 was still present to everyone of us in 2018. Now that I’ve seen what he can deliver live, I’m even more excited at the possibility to see him perform a show made up exclusively of U.D.O. songs. I can only hope that he and his band aren’t prevented from doing so by any freak storms or accidents when that time comes.

- William Liira


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