Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
So should I lie to you or should I be totally honest with you? That is the question that comes to my mind when it relates to the band Accept and I have to be brutally honest with you all before I even begin this narrative because I am one of those Metal heads that while enjoying a handful of songs, was never someone who could be considered a diehard supporter of the music of Accept. Historically speaking I only have one album on vinyl but several more on CD and to the best of my knowledge, I had only actually ever seen them perform once in my life and that was when the band was opening up for KISS on their “Lick It Up” tour and were themselves supporting the “Balls To The Wall” album. Oddly enough this was the vinyl that I owned. I admit this because I don’t say it with malice and as years went by I came to enjoy a lot more from the band and would eventually agree that more than a dozen of their tunes were bona fide classics. It’s just at the time that I first heard them it was not my thing. The sad part of the bands existence for the USA fans was that their appearances in this territory were sporadic and no new material had been recorded since 1996 with their album “Predator”. Add to this the exit of singer Udo Dirkschneider, the future truly seemed bleak for the band.
Fast forwarding a decade or so to where we are now, we find the band getting new life breathed into it them and as many have already said the “Metal Heart is again beating strongly once again”. It seemed as though via sheer happenstance back in 2009, that the former lead singer of area band T.T. Quick Mark Tornillo was able to jam with the guys and impress them enough with his knowledge of the material and his ability to hold his own that he was offered a job in the lineup as lead singer. Now regarding excitement over an “area guy” of note being a part of the bands lineup, well, I will continue to be honest and say that this didn’t actually faze me either. Being from Brooklyn, NY, I was more concerned with “our own bands” and the NYC scene more than anything that was coming out of New Jersey. They had T.T. Quick and Ivory Tower, while we had Equinox, Prophet, and White Lion. Of course I am banking my ancient memories on these bands all maintaining a NYC residence at some time, but expect to be a little vague on this exactly at this point in my own Metal music history. Despite my not really following Quick, I did so love the song “Metal Man” and still blast it on the stereo from time to time. For Tornillo the fit seemed perfect and with him at the microphone the band would be a dominating force once again.
The show found a couple of opening acts that my friends and I didn’t bother with at all this time. Our option was some pre-gaming fun at a local watering hole since we wanted to all bond and discuss our lives and recent Metal adventures more than wait through an opening act that we had never heard of. Arriving just in time to the band hitting the stage we found the venue jam-packed to the doors. This was a cool thing to witness because we had been to Gramercy a number of times in the past and there was hardly a Metal presence in terms of the crowd. Before the guys came out we found the three hosts of “That Metal Show” coming out and that means Eddie Trunk and his two comedian sidekicks. This is a show that Eddie’s core audience digs the most so when he came out it was like the arriving of the King in terms of response. After the hosts introduced the band it was on and boy was this going to be a ride to remember. As I mentioned I eventually came to appreciate the bands material and loved quite a few of their songs, but how would it sound live in concert? Udo is an unmistakable voice, and one that is not easily replicated nor replaced. He chose to not participate in any reunion efforts based on the fact that he feels new material is hard to come by and he has already been playing Accept classics with his band for almost two decades. The band just never seems to come over to the states which is a shame. The new “voice” of Accept made me focus and study just what was going on tonight a little harder and this would be a far cry from those L’Amour gigs in Brooklyn and Studio One show out in NJ for the singer where he was a staple face more often than he was not. The first tune was “Metal Heart” and he was singing with the same gravelly tone that Udo was famous for and since I know Mark’s voice to be a more melodic register, I was curious if he was keeping it hoarse by force instead of letting it come naturally. “Midnight Mover” was next and it was this early that I noticed the crowd seemed to be behind him all the way. Yes, there were those who balked about Udo being gone, but he was gone and no complaining from us would bring him back. We have seen bands succeed with new singers as with Dio, Ripper Owens and even new musicians in familiar roles like in KISS, and while this does not always please the fans, it does work when proper attention is paid to detail.
The band has had drummer Stefan Schwarzmann on the kit for awhile and I loved what he did in Helloween so he was a welcome sight to me, and of course the original members of the band in terms of tenure came via Wolf Hoffmann, Herman Frank and Peter Baltes who had all been working together for the Accept cause since the “Restless And Wild” days. What was important to notice as well was how the band looked to be having the time of their lives. Hoffman especially was the one mugging it up for the professional photographers in the pit and the entire audience behind them who kept on shooting video and snapping still pictures long after the media zone had been cleared out. I thought he was going to run out of guitar picks based on how many he was throwing out to the crowd. The banter to the crowd was very simple and to the point, more thanking people for being behind them and interested in the new happenings. Tonight was about reintroducing the Metal Republic to the power and might of Accept and believe me everyone was listening. For me it was so far so good as every tune that I came to love was delivered to perfection. There was tightness in the execution, but it was not too rigid nor seemed contrived. They were aiming to please tonight and doing it in spades. “Son Of A Bitch” was fun to hear live after all these years and I think the passerby outside could hear everyone inside as they screamed the colorful chorus at the top of their lungs. If you were close enough to the stage you would have seen a sight that makes most Metal heads clutch their hearts and that is the most comprehensive set list I have seen from a band in a long time. There were no less than 25 tunes featured when you included the bass and guitar solos. It was almost as if the band was deciding to play an entire anthology release from beginning to end. I viewed this as their answering the question of “so you wonder how Mark is going to sing everything eh? Well, here you go”. In addition to their bevy of classics we got one new song in “Teutonic Terror” and I can safely report that it maintained an Old School Accept feel more than finding the band exploring new and possibly dangerous ground. If you were present this evening, you definitely enjoyed a rare treat as I am hard pressed to think that this entire run of songs will be played when a full on tour is put together. I think in reality this lengthy itinerary was used to flesh out and feel out just how good or band numbers would be in the audience’s eyes. From my vantage point there were no complaints that I could observe.
By the time they reached “Princess Of The Dawn” the band was leading us all into the close of the evening, and when “I Am A Rebel” was done the entire place was singing and pushing their fists into the air. They left the stage but you knew that they would be coming back as soon as you heard the German sung intro for the Speed Metal classic “Fast As A Shark”. The tune still has the impact on the senses that it held in the beginning and was a number that many a Metal drum acolyte tried their skills against at practices. I am happy to find that it still affects me as a Metal fan and a tune. The grand finale came with “Balls To The Wall” but you knew that was going to be the closing number even before the show began. It had to be in all honesty. The band will release “Blood Of The Nations” in late September on their new label Nuclear Blast Records. This is a great home for the band as it’s also home to Testament and many more other major Metal talents that we enjoy. The band is certainly in good company here that’s for sure. The new album will be the first material recorded by them in over fourteen years. Welcome back Accept, we’ve made some room for you at the table; you’ve been gone too long. Watch for the bands full on touring schedule coming to a town near you.
1. Metal Heart
2. Midnight Mover
3. Living For Tonight
4. Restless And Wild
5. Son Of A Bitch
6. Losers And Winners
7. London Leatherboys
8. The Abyss
9. Run If You Can
10. Teutonic Terror
13. Neon Nights
14. Bass/Guitar Solo
15. Flash Rocking Man
16. Up To The Limit
17. Demon’s Night
18. Turn Me On
21. Princess Of The Dawn
22. I Am A Rebel
23. Fast As A Shark
24. Balls To The Wall
It’s been a long time since the Accept brand name has been on a NYC marquee so we wanted to make sure to snare the visual for many more people to enjoy. While it’s not noted on said marquee, the event was sold out and packed to capacity. Good for them.
When the guys from “That Metal Show” came out to introduce the band one of their number was sporting a custom made license plate. One had to wonder if this was actually someone’s plate or merely something made for the benefit of the show. I imagine that this would sell good at the merchandise booth if they mass produced them.
Here’s Don Jamieson helping out with the introduction of Accept. Like the band really needed an introduction, the whole room knew who was coming up and was ready to go insane for them.
Before closing up this part of the story I wanted to share a photo from the pregaming fun that we did. We all convened at Duke’s Bar on 19th Street and had a blast and a half. Recognize anyone? Some of you might see Jon Ostronomy from Talking Metal and artist of note Nelson. Mark Gromen from Bravewords is here along with our good friend Samuel from Finland. Good times.
Official Website: http://www.acceptworldwide.com