Man did I need an Accept fix! After seeing the band nearly a dozen times, for the first two reunion albums, I’d only seen them twice for Blind Rage: Wacken, a year ago and their return to Gramercy, in NYC at the start of the current world tour (which has yet to set down in North America, apart from scattered handful of dates). There have been some changes in the line-up since, but the principles remain intact, although there’s a dichotomy between the mainstays. There’s Peter Baltes, the smiling, perpetually headbanging bassist, with curly hair flopping in time to the music. If the late Jim Henson ever designed a can’t sit still, ADHD Muppet (had he started a few decades later, surely he would have), it probably would look like the ageless Baltes. To his side, the bald, face-pulling guitarist Wolf Hoffmann. Like a guitar wielding cobra, Hoffman coils himself, striking with steel string fangs. Zap! Don’t worry, the bite is infectious and without antidote. Succumb to the inevitable.
24 amp stacks, a dozen to each side are illuminated before showtime, the Accept, crossed guitar logo in place of any company name. Drummer Christopher Williams comes on and smashed an introduction on the circular (70s) gong behind his massive kit, as the boys kicked into ‘Stampede’. The 17 song was almost exactly split between new and old, with ‘London Leatherboys’ cropping up third, Mark Tornillo, more confident than ever, now that the first round of cuts are over, working the crowd, out on the gangplank, yet returning to the stage and nailing the final lyric, just as he turns to face the audience. It was a noisy, fast guitar set, containing ‘Restless & Wild’ (a surprise coming so early, in the fourth slot), the welcome return of ‘No Shelter’, ‘Pandemic’ (where Hoffmann drops to his knees) and Tyrolean ditty introduced ‘Fast As A Shark’. If ever there were a call for strobes (in spades), it’s this, heads down, balls out, piece of metal! That final pair actual close out the proper set.
‘Dying Breed’ was under blue lights, while ‘Final Journey’ saw jets of compressed “steam” shot skyward, with just the drummer, Wolf and Peter (or is that Peter & the Wolf, Prokofiev?) onstage. ‘Shadow Soldier’ is one dear to Tornillo’s heart, always onstage in a military cap. Purple lights for ‘Losers & Winners’, Wolf and Peter sharing the same mic, on the bassist’s side of the stage. ‘Midnight Mover’, another welcome returnee, would see the two of them alone on the catwalk, trading licks, as Tornillo waits onstage, keeping time. Baltes began ‘Princess Of The Dawn’ atop the variegated riser, while the guitarist made a rare solo appearance on the opposite side of the stage. The first chorus see Wolf with arms outstretched, cuing the crowd to sing along. Deep blues and fog onstage, without prodding, they continue to sing, even though Hoffmann never plays a note. As Peter towels off, they go directly into unusual green lit ‘Dark Side Of My Heart’, where the roles are reversed” Mark on the catwalk and the venerable duo onstage, headbanging. The aforementioned ‘Shark’ ends with the two guitarists center stage, to a huge ovation, as the stage goes black. Almost everyone knows it’s not over and what remains, as illuminated amps, pink lights and plenty of smoke hasten their return, implored by Hoffman (arm in the air) for the opening strains of ‘Metal Heart’. ‘Teutonic Terror’ and the ubiquitous ‘Balls To The Wall’ follow, capping not only another victory, but unofficial end of the festival.