I don’t commonly review live albums. Gone are the days where a live album can define a band the way Cheap Trick, Kiss and Peter Frampton‘s respective live albums did for them. Nowadays there are some bands like Rush and Iron Maiden who basically release a live album after every studio album. Sure some of these albums hold significance, like Rush‘s R40 Live being (so far still unofficially) the last tour featuring all three classic members, but the live album that intrigued me the most this year was the Dirkschneider album, Live – Back To The Roots in which pioneer and former Accept frontman Udo Dirkschneider performs classic and fan favourite Accept songs live for the last time in his home country of Germany.
Udo Dirkschneider, who has been perfectly comfortable in his solo band U.D.O. ever since his first departure from Accept, got tired of fans telling him they were disappointed that they didn’t play this Accept song or that Accept song. Much like Rob Zombie, Udo wants to distance himself to the point where he no longer has to perform Accept songs. The difference between the two artists is Rob Zombie‘s solo work has held up significance that is comparable to his White Zombie stuff, where U.D.O. despite having some wicked metal tunes, has nothing that can compare with his glory days in Accept. Therefore, instead of simply phasing everything out, he had to announce to his fans that this would be the end of Accept for him.
Though the album contains the same members that make up the current line-up of U.D.O. which includes Udo Dirkschneider‘s son Sven Dirkschneider on drums, the band on the album and tour (which is still ongoing) go under the banner Dirkschneider. Now, Live – Back To The Roots is over two hours in length, so I will be pretty much talking about this album song by song, rather than separate and group tracks based on different topics like I usually tend to do.
After a two-and-a-half minute intro, the concert gets underway with the high energy Accept classic “Starlight” from the Breaker album. Like a lot of older metal artists, the song is down tuned just a bit, but Udo Dirkschneider‘s famous raspy voice is ever present. It is very obvious that he struggles to hit the higher notes that make this song’s chorus ever the fan favourite that it has always been, but Udo makes due and dominates with what he has to offer. The Dirkschneider band, obviously individually seasoned metal players, do a fine job replicating the music that Accept initially laid down, on this track and most other tracks on Live – Back To The Roots.
Dirkschneider continue to deliver the goods with favourites like “Living For Tonite” where the crowd’s participation can be heard front and centre, then after getting the crowd riled up (you won’t understand what he’s saying unless you speak German) the band turns this up with the high energy rocker “Flash Rockin’ Man.” The entire first twenty five minutes of Live – Back To The Roots has a lot of high energy tracks, with “London Leatherboys” being the only song with a low amount of vitality, but its sheer power still makes it fit between the tracks before it and the next couple after it “Midnight Mover” and “Breaker.”
The mood is brought down a bit for a few songs starting with the steady tempo Balls To The Wall classic “Head Over Heels.” Dirkschneider bassist Fitty Weinhold starts the song with a bit of a bass solo before going in to the song’s intro. It’s this song that I can really notice the downtuning of the band to accommodate Udo‘s aged voice. It’s followed by a couple of tracks from the Restless and Wild album, which is an album that I’d consider to be one of the top heavy metal albums ever released.
The first of the two songs is the slow and dark “Neon Nights” which starts off with a guitar solo. I don’t know which of Andrey Smirnov or Kasperi Heikkinen plays the solo, but it’s mix of a hauntingly beautiful clean sound which transitions into a loud grind makes for an excellent listening experience. The song’s guitar solo, which is one of Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann‘s best, is done justice as well. The next track is Restless and Wild‘s closing track “Princess of the Dawn” which starts off with a great little intro that gets the crowd ready for the song by playing the ending riff of the song before anything else. I don’t like how the guitar solo is played on this version though. Wolf Hoffmann‘s original recorded guitar solo isn’t a terrific one, but it’s spontaneous and loose, which I’ve always loved. I don’t get that feeling from this live version of the song.
I was surprised to see Dirkschneider include “Winterdreams” into their setlist. It’s always been a favourite of mine, but I didn’t realize anyone else thought that. Originally the closing track for Balls To The Wall, this slow ballad captures the beauty and the gloom of a cold winter’s night, and this live version does just the same. It’s the last slower song before Dirkschneider gets back to business with one of the heaviest songs Accept ever recorded, “Restless and Wild.” They don’t play the song in its entirety, which pisses me off as you can really feel the energy of the portion of the song that they do play.
It does set the pace for another onslaught of great heavy metal tunes though, which was certainly the point. “Son of a Bitch,” which is ever the fan favourite for whenever you’re pissed off at someone, completes the first half of the album. Then Dirkschneider breaks into a couple of Metal Heart era songs, “Up To The Limit” and “Wrong Is Right.” Another Metal Heart song, “Screaming for a Love Bite” is also included, but not before Udo Dirkschneider gets the crowd participation level up again with “Midnight Highway.“
The only two songs from the Russian Roulette album are played together. “Monsterman” and “TV War” feel like they come and go a little too quickly which is unfortunate as I think the Russian Roulette album is easily one of Accept‘s best. Regardless, I’m happy Dirkschneider chose to include some of its tracks, and two fantastic ones at that. “Losers and Winners” picks up where “TV War” left off before bringing in another undeniable Accept classic “Metal Heart.” If by this point you haven’t been disappointed with the job the band has been doing playing these songs, then you certainly won’t be disappointed here either.
Most of the remaining songs are classic Accept tunes. Dirkschneider goes back to the second Accept album, which is arguably their worst, with “I’m A Rebel.” Nothing is played from the first album. Having just re-listened to it about a week ago for the first time, it’s not surprising that Udo Dirkschneider decided to forget this album, as well as most of I’m A Rebel, but this live version of the title track is pretty fast paced and much more dynamic than the original.
Perhaps my favourite moment on Live – Back To The Roots is when Udo Dirkschneider gets the entire crowd to sing the intro to “Fast As A Shark.” When the band bursts in to the signature Accept song “Balls to the Wall” you can almost hear the disappointment in the crowd’s cheers because they know the concert is just about to come to an end, but they will be in for a surprise. This is one of few songs where I feel Udo‘s aged voice does have a slight negative impact on the song, but as per most of the album, the band does a fantastic job. I can’t exactly tell where the concert ends and the encore begins, but it sounds like after this classic tune, Udo and company were called back out, and to the pleasure of much of the audience I’m sure, the band played an eight minute version of the fast rock n’ rolling Breaker era track “Burning.” The track is absolutely stellar, except for some very weird nonsensical adlibbing that Udo does towards the end.
So what I’m trying to say in so many words is that if Live – Back To The Roots is in fact the last time we’ll hear Udo Dirkschneider sing all of these fantastic Accept songs, he sure didn’t take this tour lightly. It’s obvious on this album that Udo is singing his heart out and having a good time doing it while the band behind him all play like seasoned professionals.
Thanks for reading!
8.5 (Out of 10)
|3||Living for Tonite||4:00|
|4||Flash Rockin’ Man||4:21|
|8||Head over Heels||5:30|
|10||Princess of the Dawn||11:03|
|12||Restless and Wild||2:56|
|13||Son of a Bitch||3:30|
|14||Up to the Limit||4:51|
|15||Wrong Is Right||3:12|
|17||Screaming for a Love-Bite||4:24|
|20||Losers and Winners||6:27|
|22||I’m a Rebel||3:30|
|23||Fast as a Shark||4:56|
|24||Balls to the Wall||9:03|