It had been nearly two months since The Maestro took in a live show. This is unacceptable and there will not be this long of a layoff again. However, what better show to start 2017 off than the closing night of DIRKSCHNEIDER’S Back to the Roots Tour at one of my favorite Philly spots, The Trocadero?
I love being a part of the final night of a tour because the energy in the room is palpable, and the bands always go up there and give it their all; more than that, even. And on this night Udo Dirkschneider and his merry band of metal musicians did exactly that. But we’ll get there in just a second. My friend and neighbor Roman took care of transportation to the gig, which was nice because I hate driving into the city.
And while we didn’t hit any traffic really, trying to find parking was a nightmare because the Philly Auto Show was in town AND Villanova’s basketball team was playing nearby…oy vey ist mir. But that was a minor bump in the road and we arrived at the venue by 8:30ish, which worked out well because the band hit the stage at 9pm sharp.
Now, I own all of the ACCEPT albums, and all of the U.D.O. solo albums, including his live ones. But none of those recordings could prepare me for how fucking AMAZING his voice was when I was right there in the room. I swear, I closed my eyes and it felt like 1986 all over again, the year I first heard the man sing!
Opening up with the lethal combo of “Starlight” and “Living For Tonite” the old school metal was in the house and kicking everyone square in the ass. And then of course we came to one of my biggest highlights of the evening in “Flash Rockin’ Man.” I’ve loved this song for more years than I can count and hearing it live and in the flesh was a real treat. It was at this point that I realized just how insanely tight this band is. Udo’s son Sven Dirkschneider owned the drum kit like he’d been there 20 years, bassist Fitty Weinhold laid down the thick ‘n’ rich bass grooves, and guitarists Andrey Smirnov and Kasperi Heikkinen not only tore through the riffs, but looked like they were having a blast doing so.
“Midnight Mover” is one of those songs that manages to be heavy, but also catchy as hell, and it sounded great. “Breaker” was pedal to the metal and fans all over the joint went nuts to this one.
A triple whammy of “Head Over Heels”, “Neon Nights”, And “Princess of the Dawn” was up next and everyone in the crowd let it be known how much we were loving this song selection.
“Winter Dreams” is one of those tunes I never imagined I’d hear, but boy am I glad I did, and of course “Restless and Wild” and “Son of a Bitch” were 100% crowd approved.
“Up to the Limit” was a song that you just couldn’t help but headbang to the entire time it was being played, and then “Wrong Is Right” kicked things into an even higher gear once again with Heikkinen and Smirnov trading lead breaks in such a way I was afraid their guitars would catch fire!
Now we come to another highlight-y part of the show for me with “Midnight Highway”. I fucking love everything about this song and it’s always been an ACCEPT favorite. The whole band sang backup vocals and it was quite frankly incredible to be there as this song washed over the room.
But wait, there’s more! “Screaming For a Love Bite” was next, and once again I found myself saying, “Am I really here while this song is playing and Udo is singing??”
You have to understand, I’ve never seen him live, so this was damn near sensory overload as they unloaded classic after classic on us, like “Monsterman” and “Losers and Winners” which had some of the best riffs of the evening. It was also the main set closer and gave us a minute to catch our collective breaths.
For the encore an extended version of “Metal Heart” teed off before I got another one of my favorites in “I’m a Rebel” which was, in the words of R. Lee Ermey, “OUT-FUCKING-STANDING!” complete with a great audience sing-along.
But let’s face it, anything and everything was going to pale in comparison to “Fast As a Shark”, my all-time favorite ACCEPT tune.
To end the show, “Balls to the Wall” showed up and of course everyone went batshit.All night the chants of “UDO! UDO! UDO!” loomed large, but they were just a wee bit louder after this one.
The last track of the evening was “Burning,” an all-out rager that once more got the faithful all riled up and crazy as hell. Udo and the band hit us with one final assault on our senses before disappearing into the night and onto a well-deserved break before they reconvene to start the next record. All told, this was a night that will forever be unrivaled and unequaled in the pantheon of historic live shows.
Everyone in DIRKSCHNEIDER played his parts to perfection in a two-hour show that I’m still marveling over a few days later. This was the type of thing to happen once in a lifetime and it makes me so happy and proud to know that Amps and Green Screens was there! I would tell you all to go check out this tour, but it’s over, so if you missed it that fuck up is entirely on you, not me.
LIVE IMAGES: MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO