October 5’TH 2013
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
German metal band U.D.O., led by former Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider, have been regular visitors in Finland during the past years. The band released its 14th studio album, STEELHAMMER, last May. It also introduced U.D.O.’s renewed line-up, including Udo, longtime members: bassist Fitty, drummer Francisco Jovino, and the new guitarist duo of Kasper Heikkinen and Andrey Smirnow. It seems that U.D.O. is still enjoying such a strong success in Finland as they now played in front of a sold-out Club Nosturi in Helsinki.
The band opened up with the title track of the STEELHAMMER album, followed by another newbie, “King of Mean.” It was great to see that new tracks got a good reception from the crowd, but things got even better when the band next headed into FACELESS WORLD classic “Future Land.” For some reason, the band has never played this gem live before this tour, but it is better late than never because it sounded phenomenal. It’s always a risk when the band changes its long-standing line-up, but with U.D.O., it seems that regeneration has been very successful. A young guitarist duo, Heikkinen and Smirnow, brought plenty of fresh energy on stage. Finnish Heikkinen did a decent job and appeared proudly in front of his “home crowd.” Still, I have to admit that with Smirnow, Udo has finally found a decent replacement for the band’s early days guitarist Matthias Dieth. The unchanged rhythm section always played tightly, and they both seem to have an extra kick from their younger buddies. Fortunately, Udo himself has not changed at all. The man looks almost the same as 20 or 30 years ago, and his vocals are as strong and convincing as ever.
What was also different from the past few tours was that the band had a keyboard player. It’s something that has not happened since the “Faceless World” tour back in 1991. Another funny fact is that it was the same guy, Ulli Köllner, who did the tour back then. While Köllner was certainly involved in this tour mainly because of many FACELESS WORLD songs on the set, his playing definitely gave a nice extra spice to the other songs as well during the gig. Special mention goes to his energetic performance, which was fun to follow even though it seemed quite humorous at times.
In general, the set was built upon the new STEELHAMMER disc. The album was present with seven tracks, which was maybe a bit too much, but otherwise, the set was a pure treat for old-school fans. The first three U.D.O. albums were all represented, and rarely (or never before played) gems like “Mean Machine” and “Stranger” sounded just unrealistically good. Obviously, there must have been some members in the band who always knocked out the early U.D.O. material in the past. It was probably the same guys who always wanted that half of the set must be Accept songs. Both things are fixed now, and Accept portion on the set was set to minimal. Only three Accept songs: “Metal Heart,” “Balls To The Wall,” and “Fast As A Shark” were played at the end of the set, and it indeed was a good way to finish over a two-hour-long show. And this was a great decision by the band because if you want to hear more Accept songs, then it’s better to go to see Accept instead of a U.D.O. show.
All in all, this was indeed the best U.D.O. show I’ve witnessed in years. Maybe this wasn’t as memorable as the show in the year 1989 when the band supported Ozzy Osbourne in old Ice Hall in Helsinki, or maybe the setlist was even better back in 1991 when the band was co-headlining the legendary Giants of Rock in 1991. However, it’s 2013, and U.D.O. is still going on strong!
King of Mean
A Cry of a Nation
Trip to Nowhere
They Want War
Never Cross My Way
In the Darkness
Go Back to Hell
Metal Heart (Accept cover)
Balls to the Wall (Accept cover)
Fast as a Shark (Accept cover)