Udo Dirkschneider, one of the most famous voices in metal. It’s a voice that has lent itself to some twenty five studio albums since it first appeared on Accept’s self-titled 1980 debut. Nearly seventy per cent of those albums have been released under the U.D.O. guise, of course, but it’s still Accept that the man is synonymous with, so the announcement that Herr Dirkschneider would be retiring his Accept back catalogue from live performance after 2016 was met with some disappointment – at least in the circles I move in.
Of course, this decision meant that a wide-ranging World Tour could be undertaken farewelling the Accept material, and the upshot of that tour – now stretching off into 2017, such has been it’s success, is this live album, featuring no less than twenty five, count ‘em, twenty five of the man’s greatest Accept-based moments.
The setlist featured will, inevitably, spark hot debate and full and frank exchanges of opinion whenever talk turns to it in taverns worldwide. Time is limited in the live arena – unless you’re Richard Wagner, surely a distant musical relative of Udo – so twenty five tracks is probably the upper limit for the man’s voice on any given night. But this show, recorded in the German town of Memmingen in April this year, shows Dirkschneider to be in vocally rude health. Selections spanning the years 1980 -1986 are featured, meaning there’s nothing from that debut or indeed Udo’s rather patchy nineties ‘comeback’ albums with the band. However there are plenty of cuts from Accept’s classic albums; Breaker, Restless and Wild, Balls to the Wall and Metal Heart are all well represented, as they should be, with particularly fine versions of Neon Nights and Screaming for a Lovebite standing out in what is generally a superbly paced and executed set. And it really is a treat to get to sing along at the top of one’s voice to Son of a Bitch again after all these years…
However as a warts and all live document, which this appears to be, there are moments that might stretch the patience a little. Princess of the Dawn, a taut, claustrophobic tension-packed classic on vinyl, is stretched out to over eleven minutes here, meaning that the arguably superior Restless and Wild appears in truncated form; That said, I defy you not to break out the air guitar as soon as that classic riff kicks in at the start of the song.
The influences that prompted some of the band’s greatest songs are strangely more pronounced on these version – the stench of Status Quo hangs heavy over Burning, whilst messrs Tipton and Downing would surely have to doubletake the intro to London Leatherboys, rendered here as a dead ringer for Judas Priest’s Killing Machine.
Still,these quibbles are piffling in the grand schene of things. Udo is in great voice here and his band (now featuring son Sven behind the kit) are tight and do the songs full justice, making this a fabulous trip down metal’s memory lane for all headbangers of a certain age. Well worth the effort tracking down and adding to the collection.