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© Tina Solda

ACCEPT
HELSINKI, FIN
FEBRUARY 19th 2011


Text by VILLE KRANNILA

The first time I'd seen legendary Germans Accept was back in 2005 when they
had reformed (second time) for some summer festivals. These would prove to be last performances with original vocalist Udo Dirkschneider.

While the band seemed to be playing perfectly, there was a strange vibe on stage. Something was missing and the distance between Udo and the rest of the band was clear. No surprise then the group went their separate ways again after the brief tour and never made a new studio album.

Five years later long-time members, guitarist Wolf Hoffman and bassist Peter Baltes decided to put Accept back together, this time with a new studio album to back them up. This would be the first Accept studio release in almost 15 years. Udo was contacted but unsurprisingly turned the offer down. Instead of packing it in Baltes and Hoffman got former TT Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo in to replace the German battle tank. Rest of the group was rounded out with the same personnel as in 2005. Herman Frank who had played with Accept briefly during the "Balls To The Wall" period was drafted on guitar and Stefan Schwartzmann on drums. Schwartzmann had joined already in 1994 when original drummer Stefan Kauffmann's back problems forced him to bow out.

Replacing Udo was a risky move indeed, especially remembering the first time Accept tried this in 1989 with another American David Reece. Back then they were rather unsuccessfully trying to shift the band's classic heavy metal towards more accessible radio friendly hard rock market. While "Eat The Heat" remains a guilty pleasure, it hasn't geared the same legendary status as "Restless And Wild" & "Metal Heart". Those records remain metal landmarks.


© Tina Solda

However when "Blood Of The Nations" – the comeback album appeared last year, all doubts were quickly swiped away. Tornillo, to put it simply, just blew everyone away with a voice similar enough to Dirkschneider for the record to sound like a classic Accept. And yet he was carrying a personality of its own to move the band forward. Most of all, the album put Accept back on the map of heavy metal. This was of course down to Baltes and Hoffmann's song writing which bounced back to 1980's with added heaviness and spice. A lot of it came from famed producer Andy Sneap, who retained the essential sound of crunching guitars with added (some might say modern) touch.

Even before the album was released, Accept had shot out to a lengthy world tour which will continue for the better part of 2011. One part of the current tour was headlining the annual Finnish Metal Expo held at the Cable Factory in Helsinki. On previous days, such acts as Sabaton, Triptykon and Symfonia had played their sets but this weekend was really just about Accept for me. The new Accept had played Virgin Oil co. last year, but due to scheduling conflicts I had been unable to attend. This second round was a must for me, and I was actually looking forward to hearing the new songs almost as much as the old gems.

"Shades Of Death" intro opened the proceedings and then it was off and running with "Teutonic Terror" – probably my favourite cut off the new album and the performance sounded great. The sound itself unfortunately did not. Cable Factory is known for its problems in the acoustics, the hall is simply not well designed for heavy metal concerts. Either there's way too much distortion and echo or some instruments seem to disappear. However, compared to sonic disaster at Helloween/Gamma Ray/Axxis-show few years ago, this was certainly an improvement. The sound was still far from perfect.

Anyways, instantly from "Teutonic Terror" and "Bucketful Of Hate" forwards it was obvious the boys seemed to have a really good time, smiling and head banging constantly. It was once again great to see Baltes and Hoffman in action, both also seem now much younger than they actually are. Schwartzmann was great on drums, keeping a solid rhythm which is essential in Accept's straightforward style. Herman Frank stayed mostly in the background, the only guitar solo I remember him playing was the outro solo on "Son Of A Bitch."

And Mark Tornillo, honestly I think nowadays he outdoes Udo on the old classics. Call that blasphemy, but the man was awesome on vocals, even throwing in strong screams in between. Too bad the vocal sound in the hall left a lot to be desired.


© Tina Solda

While this had the feel of a theatre show, it was still closer to a structured festival performance. This meant somewhat shorter set than usual. Set-list was cut from the earlier club shows; they didn't play "Love Child" "Losers And Winners" or "Midnight Mover" - all have been aired on previous gigs. So it was just hits and new stuff. "Aiming High" towards the mid-set was probably the only rarity. All the songs mentioned previously would have been great, but I didn't complain about the hits either. "Restless And Wild," "Princess Of The Dawn," "Up To The Limit," "Burning" and "Breaker." It was all awesome stuff!

New songs blended in well, especially "New World Comin'" sounded excellent and "Pandemic" worked fine as an encore. "Kill The Pain" would have been nice to hear as well but overall no complaints regarding the set-list coming from this direction.

"Neon Nights" contained the usual guitar solo by Wolf, while "Princess Of The Dawn" had an extra bass solo. "Bullet Proof" was also extended as a jam with Baltes and Hoffman duelling at front of the stage. "Burning" ended the main set with classic rock'n'roll style. Encores started with speed metal anthem "Fast As A Shark" – Tornillo pulled off the opening scream perfectly, too bad the sound let him down. Hopefully an official live recording or a DVD will be made available soon to amend things.

Next up was "Pandemic" from the new record and finally the eternal set closer "Balls To The Wall." The usual audience participation is one of best things about this track. Sing along parts worked well, the crowd flashed their signs of victory and all too soon it was over, band taking their bows and exiting the stage.

In atmosphere and delivery this easily triumphed over the 2005 festival show and Accept's future looks very bright indeed now. Next round will be at the Sauna Open Air in Tampere, on the very same day with headliners Judas Priest. We'll see you there.

Accept are back!

 

Setlist:

Teutonic Terror
Bucketful Of Hate
Starlight
Breaker
New World Comin'
Restless And Wild
Son Of A Bitch
Metal Heart
Neon Nights
Bullet Proof
The Abyss
Aiming High
Princess Of The Dawn
Up To The Limit
Burning
-----------------------
Fast As A Shark
Pandemic
Balls To The Wall