Review By Cassandra Hale
Seventy-One years in the making and finally the man, the myth, the legend Udo Dirkschneider touched down in Australia to unleash the best of Accept. The black t-shirt brigade turned out early to line the footpath outside the Croxton Bandroom ready to rock with their metal hero after years of waiting. The demographic was of the older generation, and I fitted into that slot somewhat perfectly. The excitement was bubbling down the line as we waited for doors, and being a very brisk Melbourne night, it was welcome relief to get inside and nab pole position front and centre on the barrier.
Opening the nights proceeding were thrash five piece Nothing Sacred, a name well known in the scene, these guys have been plugging away for 30 years and their experience showed. They powered through a rapid fire thirty-minute set delivering some tasty tunes and wicked riffs. Singer Chris Stark has a most powerful set of pipes and I was left in awe just watching. With punters up and about early they have a massive audience and the vibes were nothing but positive. Ending the set with Deathwish we were more than warmed up.
Melbourne’s Elm Street were up next, and they certainly blew my hair back, the gravely vocals of Ben Batres set the tone for the neck snapping set. A well-oiled machine, their stage time was seamless and had heads nodding in approval from the opening song. Can I say if there was a drumming Olympics Tomislav Perkovic was taking home gold, fast, furious and freaking insane, his use of the kit was next level. Elm Street were engaging, exciting and kept the thrash lover’s levels peaking. Metal Is The Way and Elm St’s Children were standouts for me, and if you are yet to listen to these guys I suggest you do so without delay!
The bandroom was turning in to a sauna as the latecomers filled any available space, the hoards were pushing up close behind me and anticipation was at bursting point. I was starting the rethink my barrier position, but I decided it was go hard or go home, so I planted my feet and got ready for the onslaught. Sven Dirkschneider entered the stage and took his place behind his impressive kit, arms raised in the air saluting us as the rest of the band launched onto the stage to massive applause, but nothing compared to the ROAR as Udo graced us with his presence. Opening with Starlight and Living For Tonight the show was off and running like clockwork. Udo impressive from his first note, his voice still amazingly fresh, he has lost none of his sharpness and was still hitting the high notes with ease. He did say when we chatted recently that he was thankful that he still was able to sing so well for his age, and I can confirm with a resounding yes, he certainly can!
There were so many highlights to this show, every song on the setlist was a winner, and with such a massive array of songs to choose from I think they knocked it out of the park with their selection. Midnight Mover, Breaker, London Leathberboys and Neon Nights had everyone up and about chanting for Udo singing the well-known lyrics back with gusto. A standout for me was Princess of The Dawn, the crowd taking over with whoa whoa’s happy to share the spotlight. Udo’s enjoyment was paramount, he was loving every minute and it radiated from him tenfold. Guitarists Dee Dammers and Audrey Smirnoff were sensational, their solo interludes were pure perfection, their shredding skills exemplary. Let’s talk bass guitar, Peter Baltes has recently been reunited with Udo and boy what a duo they make. Also hailing from Accept the songs were second nature and he played them with precision, his stage presence was awe inspiring and I was so glad to see him in the flesh. There are drummers and then there is Sven Dirkschneider. His raised drum kit a throne and he played it like a king, he was a slayer of the skins and his timing was that of the finest Swiss timepiece. I can not reiterate the calibre of Udo’s band. They are one tight united front and it shows with the delivery of every song.
A mash up of Restless and Wild and Son of a Bitch followed by Midnight Highway had The Croxton at boiling point, I was still standing strong but I could feel the punters behind me winding up the cogs and I knew that my days were numbered. Screaming For A Lovebite and I’m A Rebel upped the ante, fists punching the air charged by alcohol, driven by the songs of their youth, we wanted more and as the band departed the stage it was time for the chants to start. After thunderous applause and calls for more the band return to deliver an onslaught of three of the finest Accept songs, Metal Heart, Fast as a Shark and of course, Balls To The Wall. I could feel the surge behind me, punters driven on adrenaline and enough alcohol to forget their age. The charge was imminent, and I ducked as boots came over the top, none quite making it over the barrier, but damn they tried. The frenzy these three songs brought was beyond insanity, the singing voices of the punters enough to raise the roof, the Croxton a veritable melting pot and I absolutely loved every bloody minute.
With waves goodbye and throwing of his black leather gloves to the crowd Udo was gone and it was time to survey the damage. As I de-pretzelled myself and made way to the long line to grab some merch the smiles went for miles on the faces of every person I could see. With this tour being such a success, we can only hope that Udo won’t leave it too long to return. The hoards will be waiting our ‘metal hearts’ pumping German music at its heaviest, ready to do it all again.