Classic Metal Heaven: Udo Dirkschneider turns back clock with All-Accept Set

Review & photos by Andrew Bansal

January 22nd 2017, City National Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim CA: After great success in Europe through 2016, original Accept singer Udo Dirkschneider‘s ‘Back to the Roots – Farewell to Accept’ tour has finally come to North America this winter. Performing a two-hour set of all Accept material for one final time and touring under the ‘Dirkschneider’ name instead of the usual ‘U.D.O.’, the metal great and his cohorts arrived at the City National Grove of Anaheim last Sunday January 22nd 2017.

The Dirkschneider ‘Back to the Roots – Live’ album, a live recording of a German show on the European leg, was released in October 2016 and has occupied hardcore Udo and Accept fans’ minds and playlists since. Udo’s band had to cancel their appearances in Seattle and Vancouver on this North American tour due to severe weather conditions, but fans in Anaheim are certainly grateful for the fact that they made it through despite apocalyptic rains in Southern California, because what attendees witnessed here was one of the most unbelievably amazing classic metal shows of all time.

The band hit the stage as early as 7:50, a refreshing and pleasantly surprising anomaly for headline acts here at the Grove. The turnout was appreciable, specially taking the weather into consideration, and around 200 people banged their heads, raised their fists and sang along to these Accept classics performed to absolute perfection by Dirkschneider. That said, anyone that has been to the Grove knows that it can hold a lot more than 200 people, which is why it was more than a little strange that the authorities did not simply close access to the sections in the back, as it would have made far more sense to pack the front sections first and take it from there. Regardless, most fans went down to the frontmost section anyway, and greeted Dirkschneider’s arrival with massive cheers and chants of “Udo! Udo! Udo!”

Udo and his band, which also features his son Sven on drums, wasted no time in delving into this all-Accept set, straightaway coming out all guns blazing with classics like ‘Starlight’, ‘Living for Tonite’ and ‘Flash Rockin’ Man’. They went on to present an all-encompassing compilation of songs, getting into groovier moments on ‘London Leatherboys’ and ‘Midnight Mover’, slow, melodic numbers like ‘Neon Nights’ and ‘Winterdreams’, fast scorchers like ‘Breaker’ and ‘Restless and Wild’, and crowd singalong items ‘Princess of the Dawn’ and ‘Son of a Bitch’. They went further into some deep cuts which the diehard loyal fans very much loved and enjoyed, and ended the set strong with an unbeatable three-song encore comprising ‘Metal Heart’, ‘Fast as a Shark’, and one of the ultimate heavy metal songs, ‘Balls to the Wall’.

“Does a 64-year old Udo still sound as good as in his earlier years?” That was the most popular question on the minds of fans, even those that  bought tickets to the show merely in good faith. The answer is an emphatic Yes, so much so that for many in this audience it was hard to believe what they were hearing, as Udo delivered the goods and then some, sounding as good as, if not better than he ever has. There are very few metal singers with 30-plus year careers that can truly claim to be at the peak of their powers in their 50s and 60s, and based on this performance, Udo Dirkschneider undoubtedly joins the elite club currently decorated by Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Biff Byford, Doro Pesch and may be a handful of others, legendary metal voices that are still at their best. So, the next time you make excuses for some washed-up singer and give them the ‘old age pass’, remember that there is an Udo Dirkscneider still at his best in his mid-60s. If the ‘Back to the Roots’ touring cycle is indeed his farewell to Accept, it could not have possibly been a better one.

All in all, a heavenly night of classic metal for all in attendance, and without doubt one of the best live performances one will get to witness for a long, long time.

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Set List:
01. Starlight
02. Living for Tonite
03. Flash Rockin’ Man
04. London Leatherboys
05. Midnight Mover
06. Breaker
07. Head Over Heels
08. Neon Nights
09. Princess of the Dawn
10. Winterdreams
11. Restless and Wild
12. Son of a Bitch
13. Up to the Limit
14. Wrong Is Right
15. Midnight Highway
16. Screaming for a Love-Bite
17. Monsterman
18. T.V. War
19. Losers and Winners
20. Metal Heart
21. Fast as a Shark
22. Balls to the Wall

Remaining Tour Dates:
01/23/2017 – Los Angeles, CA @ Whisky-A-Go-Go
01/24/2017 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl
01/26/2017 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
01/27/2017 – San Antonio, TX @ Alamo Music Hall
01/28/2017 – Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
01/30/2017 – Tampa, FL @ Orpheum
01/31/2017 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
02/02/2017 – Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
02/03/2017 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
02/04/2017 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Trocadero