Metal legends Accept have returned to Australia for a single date in 2017, and Melbourne is the lucky chosen city. A near capacity crowd has gathered from around the country on a Sunday evening, ready to sample some old school German mayhem.
Damnations Day open the show as the single support act. A 40 minute set of solid prog-rock seems like a slightly strange musical entrée but the local lads seem determined to grab the chance. The crowd seems solidly impressed as well, despite the poor lighting (almost exclusively backlit for most of the set) and some muddy sound issues. The band mixes it up, offering some medium pace tracks with plenty of atmospheric feel and then changing it up with some aggressive metal-edged speed. Vocalist/guitarist Mark Kennedy is outstanding in both attitude and performance. The rest of the band also delivers in performance but seem to have been nailed to the floor for the most part, creating a fairly bland live visual.
The audio and visual difference once Accept take the stage is huge. Launching straight into ‘Die by the Sword’ from the new album Rise of Chaos, the stage is drenched in light and the sound is amazing. Every instrument has it’s place in the mix, and the volume and power are there without destroying the clarity of the overall sound – it’s just awesomely good, all night long. Second track up is another from the Mark Tomillo era, the title track from the 2012 album ‘Stalingrad‘. The band then winds the clock back 3 decades with a couple of classics, ‘Restless and Wild’ and ‘London Leatherboys’. It’s a great start, blending new and old and showing that vocalist Tomillo is the perfect choice to handle the job of honouring the Udo past while building a new future.
The posted running time for Accept is 90 minutes, but as the songs roll out it becomes obvious they are going to break that mark by a long way. When the final chords of the last number ring out, the band have been at it for 125 minutes with barely a break between numbers. With such a long catalogue to drawn from, there’s plenty of classic numbers on display. ‘Princess of the Dawn’, ‘Rise of Chaos’, ‘Metal Heart’, ‘Objection Overruled’, ‘Shadow Soldiers’, ‘Kool Aid’ and plenty more keep the audience enthralled and cheering. It all leads to the end of the main set with a roaring version of ‘Fast as A Shark’. The audience is fairly ‘contained’ during songs with little sign of moshpits or crowd surfing – perhaps a reflection that this is an audience where it’s possible to say the average IQ could be below the average age and yet not be insulting anyone! The crowd certainly takes every opportunity to sing along when given the chance.
It pretty quickly becomes obvious that the current Accept line up is a great band, but also very much the Wolf Hoffmann show. It’s not that he demands to be the centre of attention, it’s just that his playing is perfectly matched by his attitude – a terrific mix of menace and enjoyment, playing out in equal measure on his face. It all adds up to someone it’s hard to look away from. His solo performance moment, which is divided into a quiet opening that brings to mind faint hints of Rainbow-era Blackmore and a later part that is pure fuzz-frenzy, just cements his position as ‘the one to watch’ throughout the night.
Two sweaty hours after they begin, the opening strains of ‘Balls to the Wall’ break out and the band crashes into an epic, pulsating last number. Audience voices join with Hoffmann riff in a final singalong. It’s all come to an end – timeless metal cliches, synchronised headbanging, plenty of hearty background vocal choruses, Hoffmann fist pumps, chaos unleashed. All delivered with class and professionalism, and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
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