On April 6, 1952, 65 years ago a man was born. This man would become a stalwart figure in heavy metal. Udo Dirkschneider rose to the metalhead’s eyes and ears as frontman for the 1970s formed German band Accept. The band impressed audiences and issued a six-album catalog before Udo departed in 1987 to form his solo project U.D.O. a few years later Dirkschneider returned to Accept for a three album package in the mid-90s before saying a final farewell to the band. Udo has been making necks sore with his headbanging outputs for over 40 years. His back catalog sees ten Accept releases and a whopping 15 under the U.D.O. banner, not including live releases! A new U.D.O. full-length studio creation will drop in August of 2018 on AFM Records BTW.
As is the story with many a band, U.D.O. plays massive festival stages to hundreds of thousands of fans in Europe. But in North America, it’s small club shows. I personally have witnessed him in both settings on several occasions. Both are an excellent display of headbanging metal. He plays to the large audience that same way he plays to the smaller crowd, with feeling and heart. A metal heart perhaps. While he may not see the popularity in North America that he does in Europe (a story with many, many bands) he has done a great job keeping himself relevant, releasing either a studio or live album every year or so and relentless touring. Under the U.D.O. moniker he has delivered an impressive 15 full-length studio albums. And tons and tons of great tunes. If you’re not well versed in the U.D.O. catalog I suggest you start diving in.
Tiring of playing the Accept material live and wanting to focus on the massive U.D.O. catalog, in 2016 Udo announced a special tour. The tour was to be his “farewell to Accept”. It would be the last time that he would perform the material. The success was overwhelming, resulting in the tour expanding to North America. Again, unbridled success saw an extension with Back To The Roots – Part II currently in progress throughout North America.
Last year I had the pleasure of catching the initial Back to the Roots tour four times in 3 different countries. Yes, it’s that good that one or two times is just not enough! Same here with Back to the Roots Part II as I so far have caught two shows on back to back nights. Now to figure out how I can catch another show….
In this case, Toronto raised their fists high on Wed Feb 28, 2018, and then a grueling 6hr bus ride brought me to Ottawa for Thursday, March 1, 2018. Two shows, back to back nights, “Back To Back Back To The Roots” I guess you could say. While the sets were the same and both had an excited air to them, each show had its differences as well.
Below you can find Wally‘s review of the Toronto event and my thoughts on Ottawa the following night. Special thanks to Noel at Inertia Productions and Kevin at CHORD in Ottawa for bringing this awesome night of metal to Southern Ontario.
DIRKSCHNEIDER in Toronto 2018: – A Photo Gallery by Brian Ronald
DIRKSCHNEIDER – Back To The Roots Toronto February 28, 2018 – by Wally Norton
It’s almost midnight as I write these words, riding the subway train heading for home. My ears still ringing blissfully from the punishing onslaught of heavy metal that ended less than half an hour ago. Toronto’s Mod Club was THE place to be this evening for any self-respecting “metalhead”. The reason? None other than the legendary camouflaged wearing, barrel-chested vocalist known as Mr. Udo F’n Dirkschneider! Listen up, metalheads. Time is running out to catch his Back To The Roots – Part II Tour and if he is headed your way, DO NOT MISS THIS TOUR!
Just in case you are completely uninitiated this paragraph is for you. Udo Dirkschneider was the original powerhouse vocalist for the German band Accept, he departed to form U.D.O. and has been belting out metal for over four decades now. His instantly recognizable signature vocal style and ear piercing metal screams helped define Accept and their catalog is littered with heavy metal classics. History lesson over!
Sometime back in 2016, prompted by the demand of his fan base, Udo decided the time was right to dust off the Accept catalog and perform these beloved songs live one more time. He was interviewed and stated the tour would most likely be a short European run. To differentiate between this and the U.D.O. band, he called the tour Back To The Roots and called the project Dirkschneider. Well, the short European run began December 5th, 2016 and was soon extended to include Japan, the US, and Canada.
A live album was recorded and released and the shows kept coming. The demand was obviously still strong and the band was having a blast. So the Back To The Roots Tour – Part II was created. New set-list to keep it fresh and another heavy metal romp across the globe. For myself, that meant a second and possibly the last chance I would get to hear Udo belt out a complete set of Accept.
A devoted army of metalheads joined me at the Mod Club and before long the room was pretty packed. Up first was Elm Street! A four piece metal outfit that I soon learned come from the land down under. They ripped through a killer set of in your face classic heavy metal. Alternating material from both 2016’s Knock Them Out With A Metal Fist album and their debut, 2011’s Barbed Wire Metal. Elm Street was a solid fit for Udo‘s crowd, thick classic heavy metal with a side of melody. The twin guitar solos from Aaron Adie and Ben Batres were well constructed and incredibly tasteful. They threw in a heartfelt rendition of Quiet Riot‘s “Bang Your Head” and dedicated “Metal Is The Way” to the memory of Ronnie James Dio. The highlight for me was “Heart Racer”, an absolute vicious metal treat. Elm Street are a welcomed addition to my iPod.
At exactly 9:00pm the house lights dropped and the members of the Dirkschneider band took their places onstage. Udo‘s son Sven Dirkschneider perched on the drums, bassist Fitty Wienhold, guitarist Andrey Smirnov and the new face to the band guitarist Bill Hudson kicked into “The Beast Inside” from 1994’s Death Row album. Some might claim it an obscure show opener, but the slow buildup leading to Udo‘s arrival onstage worked well.
“Aiming High” and “Bulletproof” were next and it was clear to see that the set-list had been completely re-worked for “Part II” of this tour. In fact, half of the set-list had been completely switched out, making this year’s visit a completely fresh experience. Awesome to hear “Fight It Back”, the lead of track from 83’s Balls To The Wall album and one of my favorite Accept tunes.
Classic Accept tracks “Midnight Mover”, “London Leatherboys”, “Metalheart” and my absolute favorite song “Screaming For A Lovebite” sat side by side with some of the more obscure selections “Objection Overruled”, “Can’t Stand The Night” and “Another Second To Be”. It was a well-constructed set-list that satisfied both the casual Accept fans and the true die-hards. Something more bands with extensive catalogs should be doing.
Udo wears the metal badge proudly, a true professional who seems to really appreciate the fans and the legacy he has created. “Fast as a Shark”, in my opinion, one of the first true “thrash” songs and the ever classic “Balls To The Wall” closed out the show. If this is indeed the last time I will hear Udo rip out the Accept songs, I am good with that. He owes me nothing. I will always remember June 10th, 1984 when it was Udo and Accept who took my heavy metal virginity at Toronto’s Coliseum Building. They violated my ears and my transformation to “metalhead” was cemented. He did it again some 34 years later. A heartfelt thank you to Udo and his band for the music and the memories. – Cheers!
DIRKSCHNEIDER – Back To The Roots Part II Ottawa March 1, 2018 – by The Meister
After alighting the bus and meeting friends we descended on The Koven Bar for the meet & greet. Always a complete thrill to shake hands with folks that have produced the soundtracks of your life, no matter how brief. Many excited attendees seemed super surprised that I had undertaken the 6hr bus trip to see Dirkschneider again tonight. Many also said things like they’d not seen Udo since his days with Accept and the Metal Heart Tour. Certainly, they were all excited to be here, as was I.
Tonight’s venue, Maverick‘s was again fairly tightly packed and the air was electric. In contrast to Toronto, three local bands set the stage for tonight’s Dirkschneider show. We missed Domination but arrived in time to catch Lycanthro (Decibel Geek Album Review) and Infrared. While Lycanthro are young guys, Infrared appeared to be season veterans and both bands delivered their craft with vigor. As they had in Toronto, Australia’s Elm Street again pummeled the audience with their classic thrash sounds. Definitely a band I will be checking into further.
Dirkschneider‘s set was much the same as Wally described above. And I think I even enjoyed it more than the previous night. Just watching Udo‘s facial expressions as he stands back a step while guitarists Smirnov and Hudson and bassist Weinhold line stagefront. You can visually witness Udo “experiencing the music”. Feeling the music as he mouths the guitars sounds with his eyes screwed closed. Totally in the moment. What an awesome frontman still today! Cuts such as “Beast Inside” and “Objection Overruled” that I adore but never expected to hear live were even better the second time around.
Thank you, Udo Dirkschneider to you, your whole band and even the awesome merch girl. Not only for being so pleasant in person but for such a fantastic show…now I wonder what other dates on the tour I can hit?
Find more of my album reviews here: Meister Music