I am writing this review with ringing ears, bloodshot eyes, aching muscles, a “Metal Heart” and a huge smile on my face. This condition I find myself in comes courtesy of Dirkschneider, both the man and his incredible band. Last night Dirkschneider rolled into Toronto’s Mod Club on the Farewell To Accept tour and delivered heaping amounts of loud and wonderful heavy metal and then they delivered some more and then EVEN MORE! “Epic!” is what I heard as the houselights came on post marathon of metal, but I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind for a moment back to June 10th, 1984!
It was almost thirty-three years ago when I attended my first “metal” concert. At the tender age of 14, I waited outside Toronto’s Coliseum Building completely unaware of how my life would change when those doors opened and I got my first taste of live heavy metal! Motley Crue were touring for Shout At the Devil and were still opening up for OZZY at the time, but the Crue were starting to take off and they booked some occasional headlining shows. Toronto being one such show with special guests, ACCEPT. So it was indeed Udo Dirkscheider who was the first to punish my ear drums. I clearly remember the wall of sound hitting me and actually covering my ears for a few moments until I got used to the insane decibel levels, it actually hurt! Oh and it was AWESOME!!
So when I got wind that Udo would be bringing his Farewell to Accept tour to Toronto, I grabbed the phone as “Fast As a Shark” and called The Meister. Udo opening up the Accept songbook for the final time was something I was not about to miss out on. January 10th, 2017, Udo would once again get to punish my ear drums.
The Meister and I secured our spot front and center up front and we were soon joined by Decibel Geek Photographer, Brian Ronald as we awaited Mississauga’s Phear to warm up the crowd and warm up the crowd they did! Not exactly sure how Phear have eluded my musical radar as long as they have but they totally have my attention now after a short but blistering set of power metal complete with some eye-catching laser lights for good measure. Their fist-pumping five-song show included 4 tracks from their 2015 Insanitarium CD and one cover tune. “No, we did not take a pop song and make it metal!” chimed frontman, Patrick Mulock. Instead, they ripped into a faithful rendition of the 17 minute Iron Maiden classic “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”. The musicianship was spot on and when bassist, Chris Boshis switched up his pick for some “Harris-style” finger riffing midway through the song my jaw hit the floor. Well done! Phear are not only now on my radar, Insanitarium is my next musical purchase for sure!
The house lights went dark at the stroke of 9:00pm and it was on! The band (minus Udo) took their positions as the intro tape counted down the seconds to “lift off” and Udo made his entrance to the chugging metal riffs of “Starlight”. Without coming up for air the band ripped through “Living For Tonight”, “Flash Rocking Man” and then “London Leatherboys”. Speaking of the band, the musicians comprising Dirkschneider for this tour shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that has followed Udo post-1987. Since his departure from Accept, U.D.O. has been the vehicle in which Udo delivers his metal creations and the most recent lineup of U.D.O. are more than enthusiastic to turn back the clock and break out the Accept. For the uninitiated, we have the double-barreled attack of Andrey Smirnov and Kasperi Heikkinen, and on the bass, Fitty Wienhold. Last but not least on the drums, Udo‘s son Sven Dirkschneider.
When the band finally came up for air, the packed house roared in appreciation and the chant “Udo!, Udo!, Udo!” began for the first but certainly not the last time this night. Graciously Udo thanked the crowd and they plowed further into the setlist. “Midnight Mover”, “Breaker”, “Head over Heels”, “Neon Nights” and “Princess Of The Dawn” comprised the next serving of this metal feast. The lights turned a bright white possibly to represent snow as the band slowed things down with the ballad “Winter Dreams”. The change in pace was not about to last and as it turns out we weren’t even at the halfway mark.
Buckle up, “Restless & Wild”, “Son Of A Bitch”, “Up To The Limit”, “Wrong is Right” and one of my personal favorites “Midnight Highway” made up round three of this metal marathon! Udo commands the stage as the elder statesman, engaging the audience, interacting with his band and you can visually see him getting lost within the music. Oh, and did I mention his pipes? The Udo scream remains intact, so distinct, so powerful and capable of delivering goosebumps at 100 yards. As for the band, it is so awesome to watch musicians that truly know how to engage the audience and not just for a moment or two. It’s almost as if they love to play and that is the passion that is sorely missing so much today.
“Scream for me!” cried Mr. Dirkschneider as they plowed into “Screaming For A Lovebite”, my absolute favorite Accept song. At this point, I looked at the setlist that I was keeping track of to notice we were now 16 songs deep with a couple of guitar solos and a bass solo behind us and well past the 90-minute mark. Someone called out for “Balls to the Wall” and Udo looked puzzled informing them “I do not know of that song”. Instead, they pulled out “Monsterman” and “TV War” from 1986’s Russian Roulette album. From there, an extremely, blisteringly intense version of “Losers and Winners” closed out the set and Udo screamed “Goodnight!”. The temperature inside Toronto’s Mod Club had hit scorching point as the packed crowd rocked with reckless abandon. I looked over at The Meister and sighed with exhaustion, I figured a two song encore ending with the Accept anthem, I was wrong!
After a brief exit, the band was back with the title track off of 1985’s Metal Heart and the crowd was alive and well once again. Something so therapeutic about throwing your fist into the air screaming “METAL HEART!” at the top of your lungs. Seriously, you should try it sometime. It was then way back to 1980 for “I’m A Rebel” in which Udo got everyone singing along, my God this was fun! For those still keeping score, 21 songs and counting.
Udo asked if we wanted another and of course was met with yet another roar of approval and another chant of “Udo, Udo, Udo!” He then informed us that the next song begins with “Hi Dee Hi Do Hi Da, Hi De Hi Do Hi Da….” and the entire Mod Club joined in to recreate the intro for the insanely brutal “Fast As A Shark!”. After which Udo asked if we all had to work the next day or could we handle one more? You can guess the reaction and the bass intro for “Balls To The Wall” kicked in. This, of course, is Accept‘s national anthem and that’s when the mosh pit sprang to life behind us. Much like a kettle blowing off the steam, the crowd got a little rowdy in the dying moments of the show and then they played ANOTHER ONE! It was like a test to see who would drop first, the band or the crowd. “Burning” from 1981’s Breaker album provided the final, finale and the sweat-soaked crowd looked as exhausted as I now felt. I think The Meister‘s Facebook post sums it up quite well “Wow! Probably the show of the year!” I couldn’t agree more.
I urge anyone that is within the path of this tour to get your tickets, get a sitter, get there early and make sure you are well nourished to handle 10 rounds with Dirkschneider. They will kick your ass, period. Special thanks to Dustin Hardman of AFM Records, Inertia Entertainment and the Mod Club for hosting such a fine evening of headbanging metal!
CONCERT PHOTOS: Brian Ronald (Brian‘s full photo gallery appears below)