Accept - LIVE: The Garage 2011

Blood of The Nations Tour
London - March 17
Capacity 630
Photo Gallery

Accept's announcement that they would be regrouping with a new singer in 2009 was met with a large amount of doubt by fans and media alike, many remembering the commercially unsuccessful attempt to do the same in the '90s with David Reece.

Much like many classic rock and metal bands (Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC) there are always a reasonable proportion of fans who don't believe the bands should exist without their original singers, and Accept are another of these, twice now trying to continue without Udo Dirkschneider. But their comeback gigs and eventually their new album Blood of The Nations banished those doubts and they demonstrated they still had "it", even without Udo. The tour supporting the album finally brought them to the UK for some extra dates around their Hammerfest appearance, and as special guests just for this leg of the tour (because they were also appearing at Hammerfest), Swedish traditional metal outfit Wolf opened all four shows.

These shows for Wolf's came a bit prematurely for their own new album, Legions of Bastards, which doesn't come out until towards the end of April, so it proved a little difficult for them to pitch their songs to the audience beyond trying to hook people unfamiliar with them. They did a reasonably good job of this, and a tightly packed few rows of keen onlookers at the front of the stage seemed to enjoy the most headbang-inducing moments of the band's output,

In truth, compared to their headlining sets, this performance was flat. Niklas Stålvind didn't sound as clean and cutting as normal and Johannes "Axeman" Losbäck was untypically understated. This wasn't true for the entire set. Voodoo, for instance, was immense. The unexpected inclusion of Moonlight and the undeniable strength of The Bite and I Kill Again (despite a failed attempt at audience participation) were also highlights. But uninspiring new song Skull Crusher, the dropping of Genocide due to time constraints and lacklustre run-throughs of Speed On, Steel Winged Savage Reaper and Hail Caesar dampened each of the highs.

By contrast Accept were vibrant and engaging from the intro tape onwards. Fans know what to expect from founding members Wolf Hoffmann (guitar) and Peter Baltes (bass), and long-standing compatriots Herman Frank (guitar) and Stefan Schwarzmann (drums), but the big question for everyone seeing Accept for the first time on this new tour is how good new singer Mark Tornillo will be both in terms of voice (although the release of Blood of The Nations should have gone some way to answering that one) and performance. It was immediately obvious no one need be concerned at all.

Herman Frank remained mostly in the shadows stage left, apart from two or three occasions where he joined Hoffman centre stage to share some solos and melodies, and with Hoffman exerting most of his energy in a small area on the right of the stage, much of the moving around was left to Baltes and Tornillo. The Garage's stage is small, so movement was limited, but somehow the band managed to deliver an incredible amount of energy, not really pausing too much to speak between songs, and rolling out riff after riff in a very well thought out setlist structure. At no point in the set were there too many heard-it-a-million-times hits together, too many new songs, or too many obscure album tracks. All three were mixed up perfectly, each lesser known track (either new or obscure) was followed dutifully by a classic so as to never allow the audience's enthusiasm to wane.

On top of their immense effort, their sound was near perfect. Every riff and solo was crisp and clear and Tornillo enjoyed superb clarity for his vocals, where he proved beyond doubt that he is capable of singing anything from the Accept catalogue with ease and is a perfect fit for the band. Every track was met with widespread approval, but of course none more so than big hits like Princess of The Dawn, Metal Heart and perennial set closer Balls To The Wall, which all enjoyed large amounts of audience involvement and rapturous receptions.

Accept's 90 minutes on stage were comfortably one of the finest metal performances London has seen in 2011 so far. Sadly for Wolf, they could have pulled out the best show of their careers earlier in the evening and still wouldn't have been able to compete. Accept were flawless, showing they can do it without Udo, their new material is very strong, and their new singer perfect for them. Fans can probably expect to see a lot of them over the coming months and years after successes like this.

“ managed to deliver an incredible amount of energy ”

Wolf Setlist: Evil Star / The Bite / Voodoo / Steel Winged Savage Reaper / Moonlight / Skull Crusher / Hail Caesar / I Will Kill Again / Speed On

Accept Setlist: Teutonic Terror / Bucket Full of Hate / Starlight / Breaker / New World Comin' / Restless And Wild / Son of A Bitch / Metal Heart / Neon Nights / Bulletproof / The Abyss / Aiming High / Princess of The Dawn / Up To The Limit / Burning // Fast As A Shark / Pandemic / Balls To The Wall

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2011, Gigs, Heavy Metal, ,

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