What did I just witness? What did I just see?
Days later as I am writing this review of the show, I am still awestruck at the power of this show. It immediately went to the top of my personal list of shows I have seen, without question. Udo Dirkschneider, former lead singer of the German metal band Accept, finally came through town again (his last performance here was 1996) and blew the roof off the place with an incredible performance.
The soon to be 65-year-old icon can still flat out rock like no other. And yes, I used the word icon: as in Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, and Bruce Dickinson, as in one of the greatest heavy metal singers of all time. Here on this Thursday night in February, I was lucky enough to see him on one of the last remaining dates of his ‘Farewell to Accept’ tour. Labeled as Dirkscneider did not make a difference either. Anyone who grew up in the 80’s knows that name and the place was packed. Now, to be fair, there were two opening bands and they did not disappoint.
Progressive metalers MindMaze were up first and if you haven’t heard of them, shame on you. This band can play. Vocalist Sarah Teets’ voice is angelic but has a hard edge to it. Jeff Teets’ guitar is meticulous. The rhythm section of drummer Mark Bennett and bassist Rich Pasqualone are spot on. Hailing from Allentown, Pennsylvania, this band was truly a pleasure to see live again. With two albums, they are getting ready to release their third sometime in the spring/early summer according to Jeff and I look forward to hearing it. Look for them playing live in and around your area.
They weren’t the only local talent playing as A Sound of Thunder took the stage next. This Washington D.C. power metal quartet is fronted by Nina Osegueda and she can bring the metal. If you like it hard, loud, and in your face, A Sound of Thunder is for you. What female fronted singer flat out tells the crowd ‘Do you like Manowar?!’ This band does. Both openers only had thirty minute sets allotted for them and both made the most of their time. Look for A Sound of Thunder to also release a new album this year as well.
Finally, Udo took the stage. Now I had heard rumors this was going to be a long show and that the crowd would get their monies worth. The rumors were right. The set list had 24 songs on it. That just doesn’t happen anymore in this day and age. I went to a show in the fall, which I will refrain from naming the band, and they played a total of eight songs in 40 minutes. This was not going to be that show. “Starlight” started things off, then came “Living for Tonite,” and “Flash Rockin’ Man.” I was fixated watching Udo on stage the whole time. The energy of the show was amazing. Udo never sounded better and personally this was the first time I had ever seen him live. His last show in Baltimore was in 1996 on the Predator tour and unfortunately, I missed it, but I wasn’t missing this show for anything. “Midnight Mover,” “Princess of the Dawn,” “Up to the Limit,” “Breaker”; they just kept coming. “Screaming for a Love-Bite,” “Restless and Wild,” “Neon Knights,” “Monsterman”; It was like I was a teenager all over again. I was taking all of this in to remember this experience. Udo has vowed this will be the final time he will sing these Accept songs and concentrate only on his U.D.O. band which has even more releases than the band that made him an icon. But for now, I’m in heaven reliving my childhood listening to these classics live and in person. “Losers and Winners” ended the show, or so I thought, but out he came and played five more songs for an encore which included “Metal Heart,” “Fast as a Shark,” and of course the fan favorite “Balls to the Wall.” No one does a five-song encore. No one.
I wish I could go over to Germany and see him perform regularly as he is a touring giant over there and in Europe, but I will take seeing this performance as one of the best shows I have ever seen to my grave and really do hope it doesn’t take twenty more years for him to come back.
Photo Credit Robert Miller