Live - Back To The Roots
Released: 2016, AFM Records
The German metalball that is Udo Dirkschneider is back at the live album well again; his fourth dip into live material in the last four years(!). The hook this time is that the album captures a date on his 2016 Back To The Roots tour, celebrating his years in Accept whereby he’s playing songs from his previous band live for the last time. OK, fair enough and, if he’s truly giving up on playing Accept songs ever again then it truly is something worth documenting.
So, confusingly, we have the U.D.O. band touring and releasing this album under the Dirkschneider name. I’m not sure why they felt the need for a one-off name change, but regardless, this is indeed Udo’s solo band playing. Notably, this is the first recorded performance of Udo’s son Sven (drums), in his Dad’s band. Kinda cool. So to sum up, no issues with any of the performances; all of these guys are professionals and execute the concert perfectly.
As to the song list, you get a full 24 Accept cuts, spread across the early-to-mid ’80s glory years of the band (nothing past 1986, which is kind of disappointing). Still, there’s not much missing; all of the major hits are present. Breaking it down, you get “I’m a Rebel”, five cuts each from BREAKER, RESTLESS & WILD, and BALLS TO THE WALL, a hefty 6 from METAL HEART and 2 from RUSSIAN ROULETTE.
As for highlights, it’s the shorter, punchier cuts the get the blood moving; songs like “Losers and Winners”, “Breaker”, and “Midnight Highway” really cooking live and showing that, even at 64, Udo is a force to be reckoned with. On the downside, we get dreary 9+ minute versions of “Neon Nights”, “Princess of the Dawn”, and of course, “Balls to the Wall”. “Metal Heart” comes close at 8:24. While none of these songs need to be that extended, these arrangements are at least more entertaining than some we’ve had in the past (looking at you, LIVE IN SOFIA).
Add it all up, and you’ve pretty much got the definitive Udo statement on Accept, which is exactly the point. The ship has long sailed on a reunion with Wolf and the boys, and with Tornillo killing it in the home band, we get two awesome groups. Kudos to Udo for moving on with his musical career and focusing on his solo work. This is an essential album for fans and the perfect way for Udo to close the book on Accept.