U.D.O. - Hot Tonight: Big Apple Blazing!
By Mark Gromen
Early April temps hitting uncharacteristic (in some cases, record)
highs, yet black shirted masses descend on the lower end of Manhattan,
to the Gramercy Theater. Lots has changed in the metal world during the
twelve years since Udo Dirkschneider last toured the US. Most notably,
his former bandmates in ACCEPT
have regrouped and released a killer pair
of Udo-less albums and lit up stages around the globe. Now, without
longtime friend/drummer-turned guitarist Stefan Kaufmann, U.D.O.
once again solely a Dirkschneider vehicle. As such, he might warrant a
second opinion, especially when it comes to song selection.
After a decade of seeing the diminutive blond singer at least once a
year, I've come to expect ample amounts of ACCEPT
within the U.D.O.
repertoire. Why not? There are some great songs Herr Dirkschneider
helped make famous and, let's be honest, it's been a long while since
the last "good" U.D.O.
platter. However, with Kaufmann gone and the need
to break in new members, the band has virtually ditched Udo's glorious
past, airing just five ACCEPT
tracks, a trio of which closed the show!
Even more shocking, there were a pair of (short) guitar solos, while
offering nothing off the soon to be issued Steelhammer CD.
Earlier, Finnish guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen
and fellow six-string
newcomer, Russian-born Andrey Smirnov, showed up at Dukes (the
unofficial NYC pre-game watering hole for Gramercy shows). At the
concert, they kicked off with 'Rev Raptor'
witnessed in December, 2011, in Germany. 'They Want War'
'Leatherhead' came crashing back Earth. We began to get the idea Udo
doesn't understand what the fans (especially the long suffering ones in
North America) want to hear. Definitely needs to ratchet up the old
school quotient. After a rousing, green lit '24/7,' 'Screaming For A
Love Bite', the first ACCEPT
tune, none too surprisingly, met with the
biggest ovation to that point: sixth in a 16 song set.
The frontman puffing out his jowls as he stalked the stage, trading
black tee and matching button-down dress shirt for customary
(stereotypical?) military fatigues. 'Vendetta' appears to be another
favorite, but nowhere near as massive as 'Head Over Heels'.
and the familiar bass line heralds this mighty number from yesteryear,
which eventually sees the stage bathed in a greenish-yellow tinge. As
the song winds down, it heads directly into a short solo from Heikkinen,
although some took the moment to head for the bar and retrieve a
beverage similar to his surname. First surprise: the appropriately
entitled (for the 80+/ 28 degrees C temps that afternoon) 'Burning
Heat', off tremendously overlooked Timebomb album. Apparently years of
complaining have been heard, as said title cut would close the proper
set, just a few songs later.
White lights illuminating the crowd and cannonading drums introduced
the staccato metered 'Man And Machine',
the stringed musicos swaying in
synchronization, beneath Christmas colored lighting. Another surprise,
although not nearly as endearing: a second guitar solo, during which
Smirnov (bar-hoppers also ordering drinks laced with a homophone of his
last name) adapting Bach's well known 'Toccata & Fugue In D Minor'
into the histrionics. After such a protracted absence, they would have
been better served dropping the two brief, individualized showcases, in
favor of another gem. Like 'Break The Rules', which turned into one big,
Obviously, by now, having heard just two ACCEPT
tracks within the
baker's dozen, the crowd was a little restless (& wild? No, sadly
never materialized, onstage or off), but 'Metal Heart'
encore allayed many fears. The only question was how many golden oldies
would be coming our way, especially since my previous encounters had
nearly half the show padded with ACCEPT
able material. Unfortunately, it
was just two more, 'Balls To The Wall
', which thankfully proved not to
be the finale. That was reserved for 'Fast As A Shark'
. Can't remember
any show with Udo Dirkschneider
at the helm where he didn't sing
'Princess Of The Dawn'. Maybe next time. Just hope it's not too long a
More photos from New York can be seen here.