A crowd in excess of 18.000 people awaited Accept at their biggest festival show ever in Spain. And the band delivered. Drawing from a wealth of classic metal songs that can raise the dead, Accept were arguably the most powerful classic band at the festival. Yes, they may have a long carreer, but they have managed to reinvent themselves with the last three albums and remain up to date. Classics is what people sing, but new songs are what keep them fresh and they delivered a good mixture of both. From the opening salvo of “Stampede” until the closing with “Balls to the Wall” they played a set that was balanced and intense at the same time, with plenty of guitar solo faces from Wolf Hoffmann, old school raspiness from Mark Tornillo and a refurbished rhythm section where only Peter Baltes remains from the classic line-up and newcomers Uwe Lulis on drums and Christopher Williams on guitar showed that they deserve their place in the band.
Concert Review: ACCEPT; Kuopio Rock Cock 2015; July 31
BY: TJ FOWLER
I have lived here in Finland for about three and a half years, being transplanted from Tennessee into a heavy metal wonderland. In this span of time I have had great opportunities to cover bands I could only dream of back in my home state. One of these great opportunities has been getting the chance of covering the legendary ACCEPT.
The first time was in September of 2014 in Tampere in a moderately sized club and the band commanded the night like no other. This time however they were headlining day one of the Kuopio Rock Cock Festival and this would be my first time seeing them in a larger setting.
Living in Kuopio I have attended this festival every year since arriving here in 2012 and the festival never ceases to amaze in the acts they bring as headliners. Nightwish, Scorpions and now ACCEPT.
To say I was eager is an understatement. The band took the stage as the day had mostly faded away but still glimmers of light were peeking through the clouds which is the norm for long summer nights in Finland.
This night though, the people of Kuopio needed to beware what was lurking in the shadows because they were in danger of getting stampeded by a heavy metal titan.
ACCEPT stormed the stage and proceeded to stampede the audience with…well the song Stampede. The fans went ballistic and cheered the band every step of the way and the band kept rolling its metal wheels and launched into Stalingrad followed by London Leather Boys.
One after the other the band kept delivering hit after hit and the fans screamed in unison with the band. Whether it was Princess of the Dawn, Metal Heart or newer songs like Pandemic and Teutonic Terror, the Finnish fans made their country proud this night and gave the band 110% support. Even the fans off to the side in the drinking areas and not in the main crowd area were standing and head banging to the band.
In Fact, the city of Kuopio itself showed its pride. There were several police officers who actually came to the festival when ACCEPT went on stage to specifically see the band play because they were fans of the band.
The band wasin true form and sounded perfect, and they could have honestly used this show to record some live material. They sounded that good.
It should also be noted the band has a couple new members, guitarist Uwe Lulis and drummer Christopher Williams. I have to say these two guys have made excellent additions to the band and both had more of an active stage presence than some previous members and showed of some great showmanship. It is always great when all the members have some stage presence they can show the crowd. (Scroll down past photo to read more and see thank you video)
If you get the chance to see the band live on their current tour, don’t miss the opportunity, they will blow away any other act they go up against and were the highlight of Kuopio Rock.
My hats off to the band and to the festival itself for bringing them here.
To sum things up I want to use an analogy, I live in an area here in Kuopio called Petonen, roughly translated, it means beast. Well tonight I ran into that beast…in the form of the German Teutonic Metal Machine…ACCEPT!
The honest truth is that ACCEPT is the whole reason we came to Balingen this year. When the festival was first announced, I distinctly remember sitting at my desk and thinking that Accept would be the obvious choice to headline the 20th Anniversary Festival. Then I thought back over all the times I’ve seen Accept, on small and mid-sized stages throughout the southeastern USA. Then I remember imagining what it would be like to see Accept on the huge outdoor festival stage, with thousands of people singing along every word to every song. Then I ordered our tickets to BYH Fest. True story. Now that the moment was finally here, I could barely contain my excitement. The stage looked amazing, featuring an enormous backdrop with the ‘Blind Rage’ cover art, a massive wall of double-stacked amps with the Accept logo from one end of the stage to the other, and a cool drum platform in the middle. That’s it. The taped intro to “Stampede” started and suddenly we were off to the races. Whatever lofty expectations I had for Accept on this night were well and truly shattered by their dominant performance. Guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes effortlessly worked the stage from one end to the other, with frequent visits to the catwalk, individually and collectively. They bounded across the stage with an obvious joy and exuberance that belied their ages. Mark Tornillo demonstrated why he is the perfect frontman for this band, as he belts out the vocal lines with poise and power but knows when to step back and allow Wolf and Peter to take over. New guys Uwe Lulis (on guitar) and Christopher Williams (drums) seemed completely at home in the band. Both were marvelous players who seemed fully dialed in with their bandmates and committed to the cause. To be sure, Lulis mostly stayed out of the spotlight, but on a couple of occasions I saw Wolf motion for him to come over to center stage, or even out in the catwalk, to enjoy some time in the limelight. Wolf and Peter have both said in recent interviews that the band is tighter than ever in its new incarnation. Seeing is believing.
A curious aspect of this three-day festival was the opportunity to compare and contrast how different headliners do it. Unlike their predecessors on Thursday and Friday nights, Accept had almost no gimmicks, no props, no special effects (other than a few blasts of CO2 gas), and a few other little things. By and large, they let the music do the talking, relying on sheer energy, killer songs, and force of personality to win over the crowd. And did they ever. It was positively magical to hear the audience singing every word of so many songs, and adding rousing choirs during the singalong parts to songs like “Stalingrad,” “Princess of the Dawn,” “Metal Heart,” and of course “Balls to the Wall.” The band felt that way too, with Tornillo exclaiming with amazement, “You guys are killing it! Last band of a three-day festival and you’re all standing and screaming.” And we were. I felt like I was in a dreamstate seeing Wolf and Peter out there at the end of the catwalk, rocking out to their hearts’ content on the jammy extended version of “No Shelter.” New songs, old songs, everything was executed brilliantly, from the 80s romps through “Losers and Winners” and “Midnight Mover” to the fistful of new classics like “Dying Breed” and “Final Journey” from Blind Rage. Here’s an interesting fact: Accept played 10 songs from the Tornillo era tonight, and just 8 from the Dirkschneider period. Living in the past? I think not. You know, I wouldn’t have had it any other way (I did miss “Breaker,” though, first time I’ve seen them in recent years where they didn’t play that tune). Only moment where my heart jumped into my throat was during “Pandemic,” when Baltes dashed out onto the catwalk, then ran back to the mainstage at full speed, only to wipe out when he hit the stairs. For a split second, I imagined Peter being injured, unable to continue, the show screeching to a halt. But then Peter got back to his feet, raised his fists with a sheepish grin on his face, and resumed rocking as if nothing had happened. Both Wolf and Mark made a point of walking over to check on him, but he waved them off. A minute later, Peter was running back out onto the catwalk, sprinting to and fro, one fist in the air as if to tell us, “No worries folks. I got this.” And he did.
If the metal gods are kind to me, I will see Accept many more times before either (i) I go deaf or (ii) they call it a career. I will never see them better than they were tonight. This gig is one of those memories that I will lock away in my heart, forever and ever, bringing it out whenever I need a little sunshine, a little inspiration, a little pick-me-up to get through a tough day. Accept were the best band on the planet tonight. And I got to experience them. Thanks BYH! Setlist: Stampede, Stalingrad, London Leatherboys, Restless and Wild, Dying Breed, Final Journey, Shadow Soldiers, Losers and Winners, 200 Years, Midnight Mover, No Shelter, Princess of the Dawn, Dark Side of my Heart, Pandemic, Fast as a Shark. Encores: Metal Heart, Teutonic Terror, Balls to the Wall.
ACCEPT – SLAVES TO METAL, LIVING FOR TONIGHT, UNDER BIG APPLE’S NEON NIGHTS
By Mark Gromen
Blind Rage? No, more like precision, pinpoint aggression. Just what you’d expect from German engineering! Returning to the Gramercy Theater, where on May 8, 2010 this incarnation of Accept shocked the world (“What, no Udo?”) launching one of metal’s greatest musical reformations. There’s a reason this jaded journo, attending concerts for more than three decades, has seen these guys a dozen times since that NYC kick-off. Dying Breed, indeed!
Under the watchful eyes of the snorting/charging beast that adorns the Blind Rage artwork, an orange backdrop spanned the stage. This was my first opportunity to hear seven inclusions from the new disc, opening, as they did at Wacken, with the hard hitting first single, “Stampede”. While no one was trampled, the sold out crowd (assembled from across the Eastern seaboard, this being the lone area show, as opposed to the trio in California and Vegas) was almost uncomfortably packed, shoulder-to-shoulder (balls to the wall?). Talk about the proverbial bull in a china shop…there’d be some collateral damage, no doubt.
“Stalingrad”, just one of the three aired from the album of the same name, the second since Jersey’s own Mark Tornillo joined the German contingent, saw enthusiastic drummer Stefan Schwarzmann playing from a standing position, come the titular chorus. Make no mistake, the stars of he show remain Peter Baltes, the bassist with boundless energy, and guitarist/keeper of the Accept legacy, Wolf Hoffmann. Tonight’s set was sort of packaged with a heavy dose of material from the trio of Tornillo era up early and classics appearing late, stylistically, you’d be hard pressed to notice any difference though. The band looked and sounded great, several friends commenting on the tone and clarity of Hoffmann’s guitar.
“Losers & Winners” lets Herman Frank strut his stuff, taking a rare move to center stage and demonstrating some overhand technique. Wolf acted as cheerleader, getting a clap-along going to start “London Leatherboys”. He and Baltes lock into the patented swaying stage movements. Nice to hear “Starlight”, but since this is a warm-up for Europe, not sure it and the the rarely heard “Ahead Of The Pack” will survive until next Spring’s North American tour, as both were re-learned for the Wacken set. Here’s hoping they make a return engagement. “Dying Breed” and “Final Journey” fly by. The mid-tempo “Shadow Soldiers” appears to be a Tornillo staple, before “From Ashes We Rise” ends the predominately new-song portion of the evening.
“Restless & Wild” might describe Baltes’ onstage demeanor. An hour into the set, he’s still headbanging madly, as Tornillo is atop the drum riser, back-to-the-crowd, staring right into Schwarzmann’s face. The aforementioned “Ahead Of The Pack” sees the two guitarists together, for the first time. A powerful orange beacon drowns the stage for the cannonading drums of “No Shelter”, multiple white lights pulsating down on the crowd. During the portion where the tempo drops, Baltes and Hoffmann are alone center stage, trading licks. An audience choir of “whoa whoa” kicks off “Princess Of The Dawn”. Wives, don’t worry, the backstage was fat, old, bald guys. As the AC/DC stomp of “Dark Side Of My Heart” pumps from the speakers, I wonder which pounds louder/heavier: Accept, or the older crowd’s headache/hangover, the next morning.
Speaking of punishment, what about “Pandemic”? Wow! Mark and Wolf toy with each other. As the stage goes black, a familiar Tyrolean melody fills the sweaty hall, the vinyl ultimately scratched beyond repair, punctuated by a maniacal scream. It’s the classic intro to “Fast As A Shark”, which closes the proper set.
For an encore, the now shirtless Tornillo led the boys back onstage, under purple lights, for the title track, the only option off Metal Heart, a favorite album in America, but then again, this was an overseas exercise. With legs splayed wide, Hoffmann alternated side-to-side, silently directing the still boisterous throng in another (albeit longer in duration) “whoa whoa” sing-along. “Teutonic Terror” followed and “Balls To The Wall” capped the evening. Great set, great band. Can’t wait for next Spring and a full scale domestic tour!
There is always a sense of excitement for yours truly when a new Accept record is imminent. Having been a fan since my pre-teen years, well over thirty years ago, the German quintet have and always will, hold a special place in my metal heart, so, as you can imagine, the arrival of “Blind Rage” has got this heart beating as fast as a shark… sorry I couldn’t resist!
Fans of the band will know what to expect from “Blind Rage” but for those of you who are still unfamiliar, I need only say two words “HEAVY METAL”!
This Accept’s 14th studio album and the third (in five years) to feature the excellent current line-up of Wolf Hoffmann, Peter Baltes, Herman Frank, Steffan Schwarzmann and Mark Tornillo. Out of the three Tornillo fronted albums, “Blind Rage” brings back that classic Accept sound of old more than any but with a naturally 21st century feel.
Opening track, “Stampede” is exactly that. A charging sonic attack of big riffs, big vocals and those classical flavoured Wolf Hoffman solos, an obvious future show starter…one hopes? “Dying Breed”is next up and pays homage in its lyrics to both influences and counterparts of days gone by. Listen to the lyrics and see how many references you can spot? “Dark Side Of My Heart” harks back to the“Metal Heart” era with its “Up To The Limit” similarities.
“Fall Of The Empire” slows it down a tad all brooding chugging riffs and the oh so familiar chanted background vocals. “Trail Of Tears” ups the tempo again with a riff that cements the theory that Accept were indeed one major influence on the whole speed/thrash genre. “Wanna Be Free” is the band looking at the state of affairs in the world whereas “200 Years” highlights what will inevitably happen if we don’t take note? Both tracks naturally delivered in crunching metal fashion.
“Bloodbath Mastermind” will have you flooring the pedal in your car and banging your heads ‘til your necks are breaking whilst you do so. “The Curse” will take you back to their “Russian Roulette” era which I personally hear referenced a lot on “Blind Rage”, which is no bad thing as I have a fondness for that album, it was back in ’86 on that tour that I first got my live Acceptexperience. Closing track “Final Journey” is another fast-paced delight which literally had me jumping for joy as Wolf Hoffmann has once again incorporate a fabulous piece of classical music into his solo. This time around it’s Grieg’s “Morning Mood”…a welcome return Herr Hoffmann.
“Blind Rage” is Accept doing what Accept do best, powerhouse riff-laden melodic heavy metal. If it ain’t broken…don’t fix it. Easily a contender for album of the year.