REVIEWS

DIRKSCHNEIDER – “BACK TO THE ROOTS” & BACK TO THE BURGH

 

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Sunday night, March 4th wIll be exactly 34 years to the DAY that UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER stepped foot on Pittsburgh soil and if I’m NOT mistaken it’s been over 32 since he LAST stepped foot here. Lord knows when I was running the “GlamSLAM Production” machine, I tried and tried and tried to book Udo here, but to no avail. I never did get a real reason why, just a very high counteroffer that seemed like there was never an intention of him playing here. It was guys like Udo and bands like Accept that I started booking shows here…I was tired of driving to Cleveland or Columbus to see them. Well, the WAIT is NOW over…UDO returns to The Rex with his “Farewell to Accept” tour! Not sure if he just isn’t going to do any more Accept tunes in concert or that this is going to be full on Balls to the Wall (pun intended) Accept tunes only show, either way, I’m gonna be one happy sonofabitch. Though It has been many years since that little ol’ band from Germany’s invasion to Pittsburgh…and I can remember it like yesterday…it was March 4, 1984 and I was front row for “the hottest band in the world” who were now playing a 3000 plus seater in lieu of those monster Civic Arena shows 9 consecutive previous years. The sell-out crowd was amp’d to see for the first time…Gene, Paul, Vinny and Eric, live and without make-up! This was the “Lick it Up” tour and that album has a great buzz surrounding it. Of course as with any KISS show, we here in Pittsburgh hadn’t gotten a great opener since KISS’s first show in 1975, at the same theater I was in that night…BOTH times, when RUSH opened the show. The mid to late 80’s and on is where KISS began taking out the big guns to help sell a few more seats. Of course other markets in the ‘70’s that were bigger than our little speck of the world, KISS did trot out some great bands. This particular night we were getting a German band that made some waves on radio with “Balls to the Wall”. I was kind of amp’d because the lead singer, Udo Dirkschneider and I had something in common other than our German heritage…we were both, short, loud and stalky rock n rollers! Udo didn’t fit the “newest” trend happening…the glam, pretty boy look, but that voice was powerful as hell. He had that powerful, raw vocals of Brian Johnson of AC/DC, well, as best I could tell from the records. I was huge into getting import vinyl back then and had already owned their 4 previous releases prior to the “Balls to the Wall” album they were now touring on. That night I saw maybe 3 or 4 Accept t-shirts BEFORE the show, the real strange thing was, those guys were INSANE metalheads that even with my knowledge at that point didn’t stand a chance to bring anything to the conversation. It was a great time to be a jean jacket wearing metal head back then. Tonight would also prove what I’d already knew…KISS was going to be in for the shock of their lives thinking Accept was just a “lay up” opener. The band was introduced and kicked it into high gear right out of the gate with “Fast As a Shark”…the drums, the guitars, they were all nice accoutrements, but that SCREAM got the attention of the crowd it was ON! Guitarists, Wolf Hoffmann and Jörg Fischer shredded like no other, the drums of Stefan Kaufmann were crazy; he slammed and kicked that double-bass kit with such furry you’d have that it owed him money. Pete Baltes on bass looked like he’d have been just as comfortable in Ratt or Motley Crue; the band was just cohesive and hit on all cylinders. They all had this “military” thing happening, but Udo took it to the hilt, downplaying any of the poof’d hair and poser look. Even Udo’s camo pants and matching t-shirt with white suspenders and his jackboots weren’t aggressive enough to match those vocals. When the band ran through its 10 song set and dismounted with “Balls to the Wall” they just made KISS’s job a little harder. Accept made their mark that night. Several months later at the scene of the crime (Stanley Theater)…there was the “wrecking ball” hanging stage right and June 12 1984…Accept was opening for MOTLEY CRUE! Motley opened for Ozzy earlier in the year at the Civic Arena and this was their first headlining tour hitting Pittsburgh. The place was packed and again, Accept hit the stage running with “Fast As a Shark” and the Crue fans ate it up! It wasn’t long before Udo took to straddling that wrecking ball and “Balls to the Wall” would be the anthem of Accept. I remember hearing a bunch of people talking about Accept after the show and how they weren’t sure how they were gonna be…there I was in my bootleg’d Kiss/Accept shirt from a few months prior. I knew, oh I knew “sehr gut”! Bälle zum Wandmann! Once again ACCEPT stayed on par with the headliner and this time it was a young and hungry Motley bunch. I would see them two more times in Pittsburgh before it would just be a 2 or 3 hour drive to see them again. I had only seen them once since Udo left. When I saw Accept open for IRON MAIDEN here in Pittsburgh in 1985, I was shocked that they hadn’t reached the level of popularity that they should have. The following year when I Accept returned for what would be their final time here opening for Dio, it seemed to be over, not only for me, but the band just seemed frayed. That being said, you couldn’t have complained about those VOCALS or Wolf’s guitar work. It just seemed like the band wasn’t really enjoying it anymore. A year later Accept went on a little hiatus and the music scene to a swift turn of events, though Guns N Roses were dominating the early 90’s and Metallica just broke ALL the rules for metal…the flannel was just too much. Regretfully I missed their brief reunion tour, but I did see U.D.O. twice on his solo tour. IF you’re an metal lover or an 80’s metal fan…you HAVE to take the time this Sunday and see a true METAL LEGEND…UDO!! It appears we’re gonna get a 20 song retrospect to the often underappreciated classics from ACCEPT with the VOCALS of the guy that made them CLASSIC! It’s gonna be the best 2 plus hours and $26 bucks you’ll spend this year…get your fists clenched and you screams ready…it’s time to unleash THE BEAST INSIDE!!

Written By: “Sweet” Lou Hetzer

 

Band Members:

Udo Dirkschneider (vocals)

Andrey Smirnov (guitar)

Bill Hudson (guitar)

Fitty Wienhold (bass)

Sven Dirkschneider (drums)

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