At some ungodly hour, in my aisle seat, in economy, on an Airbus A380 bound from Sydney to Los Angeles, I woke, sat up, and thought to myself “I am going to the Key Club, to see Accept live.” Even then, it still seemed too good to be true. And at that stage, I still didn’t know just how great it would turn out to be.
A few days before, I had realised that a trip I had already planned got me in to LA one day too late to see the band I’ve eagerly followed since early high school. Songs like “Balls to the Wall,” “Princess of the Dawn,” “Metal Heart” and “Burning” played a big part in my teenager years and beyond. So, I paid the change fee, booked a hotel and bought a VIP ticket online (having no idea what VIP meant), and headed off. In LA, I met up with a handful of other members of the Accept forum, and spent a pleasant afternoon in the Rainbow, counting the pictures of Lemmy. We wandered over when we got a text to say there was a sound check going on and our friend was inside. We missed that, but then Peter (Baltes, the bass player) came out and chatted to us for a while. Afterwards, we went to the Rainbow, and Peter came and chatted again. Finally, we headed to the venue, and I found out that my VIP got me in early, and to a meet and greet. We also got first shot at the remaining merch (which was limited as it was the last night of the tour). I bought a hoodie, two T-shirts, a cap, etc, then was ushered in to meet the band. They had heard I was coming, in a radio interview, so we had a good chat, they signed my stuff, and then I raced off to get to the front.
The whole event was emceed by DJ Will from KNAC, who did a great job. A personal highlight was him saying “Where’s the maniac who came from Tasmania?!” and when he saw me, he said “Hey, I met you at M3.” Yes, he did. I love my metal. There were three opening acts, who all seemed to be reformed old bands that I’d not heard of. The first band, I don’t recall the name, but when the singer is in a Venom T-shirt, that has to be a bad sign. It was. The second band was called MX Machine, and they were pretty good, straight ahead metal. The last band, Ruthless, were also very good. The singer seemed to be able to do a decent high-pitched Rob Halford, but only did it for the start of a few songs. If I’d not blown all my cash and left my ATM card in my room, I’d have bought their CDs.
I had posted on the forum some of the songs I hoped to hear, and I’d given my list backstage and been told I may be in luck. When the setlist was taped to the stage, I could see I was in for a great night. The band opened with “Starlight,” not my favourite Accept song, but it was killer live. Then they played “Living for Tonight” and “Breaker” before launching in to two new songs, “Teutonic Terror” and “Bucket Full of Hate.” Accept is the only band I’ve seen that is making new music, where the new songs sound just as good as the old, and where the audience responds just as well to the new material, instead of going to the bar or the bathroom. Mark Tornillo sounds awesome, unlike David Reece, who sounded far too clean after the turbo charged gravel of Udo. Mark has enough gravel in his voice to make the classic songs sound ‘authentic,’ but has his own sound, too, which he uses to great effect on the new CD, and live. Classic followed classic as they played “Restless and Wild,” “Son of a Bitch,” “Metal Heart” and “Neon Nights.” Then the next song was “Bulletproof.” This is a later day Accept song, from the Objection Overruled album. During this song Wolf and Peter came forward and played a duelling guitar solo, with Wolf playing licks on the guitar, and Peter answering on bass. It was a definite highlight of the night.
The band as a whole was incredibly tight, both musically, and visually, with the three guitar players often getting into a line and moving in tandem to the music. In between, Wolf was the classic guitar hero, all over the stage as he played flawlessly. As I said, I was right in front of him, the band uses in ear foldback so there were no wedges on the stage, and the band played right up to the edge of the stage.
The band played “Losers and Winners” next, followed by two more new songs, “The Abyss” and “No Shelter.” If anyone reading this does not have the new album, Blood of the Nations, you need to stop what you’re doing, and go and order a copy. I buy a lot of CDs, and there’s only three in the past year or so that I’ve found myself going back to over and over again, and of those three, the new Accept is the best heavy metal album in my opinion. As I’ve said, the new songs fit in to the set flawlessly and were greeted with as much enthusiasm - and as much singing along - as the classics were.
The rest of the main set was “Up to the Limit,” “Monsterman” and “Fast as a Shark.” It was quite amusing to hear a room full of metal heads singing along to a melody I knew from my German grandfather’s record collection before I first heard Accept use it to start their proto thrash masterpiece. The encore started with another new song, “Pandemic.” It’s a metal disease, indeed. Then they played their two biggest songs, “Princess of the Dawn” (my favorite) and “Balls to the Wall.”
After the show, I tried to get a guitar pick, and ended up wrestling with five guys for it. I posted about it on the Accept board (mostly to suggest that they sell them as merch), and got a reply from Peter offering to send me a pick. All through this, apart from the killer show, the thing that has blown me away is how much they interact with their fans. Peter had told me earlier in the day that the tour has gone really well, and they’ve had all great reviews and are very happy with how the album and tour have been received. The music is killer, the show was flawless, but I do think that their willingness to interact with the fans is at least part of the reason they have been welcomed back with such open arms.
So, the show was over, and because of my pick scuffle, I had lost contact with my new friends. I later found out that they stayed behind and met the band again, who, despite being as jetlagged as I was (they’d just come in from Japan), came out to meet them. However, I had a flight in the morning, so I walked out, go into a cab, and went back to my hotel. It was a fair bit of work, and a bit of money to change my plans to see Accept, but it was totally worth it as I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I told the band that I’d come to see them, so they owe it to me to come to Australia, and they said that some talks are happening, and they are going to travel through the U.S. again next year, after Europe, so if you didn’t see them this time around, I recommend you do, because it was a great concert, no doubt about it.