U.D.O.-Steelhammer Live From Moscow-The Covideo Chronicles-Day 24 (April 24, 2020) 

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Reviewed: June, 2020
Released: 2014, AFM Records
Rating: 4/5 (Just the DVD)
Reviewer:  JP

Over the years I’ve done a number of more ambitious series of reviews instead of simple stand-alone reviews.   This is perhaps my most ambitious project yet.  This series of reviews was born out of three seemingly dissimilar and unrelated components; my viewing habits, a stockpile and the global pandemic of 2020.

As a habit and personal preference, I don’t watch a lot of TV. I prefer to read and listen to music.   Over the years whenever I have bought a CD, often it will come with a bonus DVD.   I would listen to and enjoy the CD and because I don’t watch much TV I just started putting the CD’s with a bonus DVD in a pile, thinking to myself, “I’ll watch the DVD….‘someday’.  Over time the pile grew and grew and grew.

Secondly, it has long been a personal goal of mine, and Metal-Rules.com, to review every Hard Rock and Heavy Metal DVD on the planet.  Over the years we have reviewed hundreds of stand-alone DVD’s, more than almost every other Metal webzine.  However these little bonus DVD’s that come with CD’s are often, dare I say it, are largely inconsequential or ‘throw-away’ DVD’s, with not much substance other than a video or two, or maybe a brief ‘making of’ the album at hand. They are neat for the die-hard fans who want to shell out a couple extra bucks for the deluxe version of the CD but mostly they are not a big deal, very often there is not enough true content to release on their own.

At the tail end of March 2020, like many thousands of people, I lost my job due to lay-off’s precipitated by the global pandemic.  In my first real full-week of self-isolation, it was April 1st  in the evening, and I was sitting thinking, “How am I going to keep myself productive and occupied these next several weeks?”   And there it was, sitting on my desk, staring me in the face as it had all these years.  A pile of EXACTLY 50 CD’s with bonus DVD’s that needed reviewing!  That ‘someday’ had suddenly became, ‘now’.

And so begins… The Covideo Chronicles.  (Covid + video…get it?)  By the time you read this I will have reviewed all 50 DVD’s sitting in that pile and compiled  this series.  50 DVD’s. 50 days. 50 reviews.  Some of these bonus DVD’s  are full concerts and documentaries, some are merely a few minutes long.   My goal was to do a very quick synopsis of the DVD (not even the CD) just the DVD.  I’m quite sure many of these albums have already been reviewed over the years here on Metal-Rules.com.   In fact, the longest part of these reviews will probably be my rambling introduction.

These are in no particular order.  I was thinking of doing them chronologically by release date or maybe alphabetically but in the end I decided to review what I felt like watching that day.  This exercise was a simple daily task, it kept me keep me amused and primarily I’m glad to get that damn pile off my desk.   Enjoy!

Very often buying CD’s can act as a memory trigger. I know exactly where and when I bought this DVD! It was at a Dirkschneider gig in Calgary, Alberta on March 15th, 2018.

A bit of background. I’m a big U.D.O. fan however, in my area, some of material is only available as an import at extremely high prices in retail stores, as high as $35.00 to $40.00 each for the Double Live albums!  So I had not yet bought the last three Double Live albums; LIVE IN SOFIA (2012), LIVE FROM MOSCOW (2014), and NAVY METAL NIGHT (2015) preferred to allocate my budget to the U.D.O. studio albums.

So Dirkschneider played in town, I went to the gig and to my joy, all three of the above Double Live 2CD/DVD, double digipak albums were available (with zero region code!) at the merch booth for $20.00 each! That is basically 50% off so I bought all three in one shot! Score!

Now after sitting here in ‘the pile’ for two years, I reviewed all of them in this feature in chronological order starting with LIVE IN SOFIA (April 9th) and this one LIVE IN MOSCOW was next in sequence.

I am disappointed.  Before I bought this from the merch booth at the Dirkschneider concert I was concerned about buying a foreign DVD so I asked if it would work in North America.   The merch guy assured me they were region free and would work.  It took his word for it and the packaging had no marking or indications to suggest otherwise.   So of course when I threw the DVD into the player to do this review, it doesn’t work. It is Region Code 6.   That lying scum-bag ripped me off to get a sale.   Now I have to watch this on my old computer with a horrible little mono speaker instead of my big-screen TV with better sound. I hope Udo fired him.

I’m not sure if you have noticed but as of 2020, four of the six U.D.O. Live albums have all been filmed and recorded behind the former Iron Curtain, that is to say Eastern Europe. Why is this? Well, that area of the world has always been a stronghold for U.D.O.

It started with Accept and the RUSSIAN ROULETTE album back in 1986. Since then the band has cultivated a relationship with that part of the world with heavy touring and songs like ‘Trainride In Russia’. This is interesting to me because very few Western Metal bands tour, let alone record live albums, in Eastern Europe. Live albums in Japan are a dime a dozen. Live in Moscow? Not so much. The biggest bands (Maiden and Scorpions) did tour there back in the 80’s and a few other Western bands like Rage have gained a sizeable audience in Eastern Europe (probably because of Victor Smolski) but U.D.O. has really developed a strong, career sustaining fanbase. I mention this because the crowds are always huge on these videos and LIVE FROM MOSCOW is no exception.

This DVD might seem a bit premature following hitting the market just 18 months after LIVE IN SOFIA   but Udo speaks to that in the liner notes.  He says he wanted to showcase the new band which is sort of true… there are two new guitarists and the on-stage keyboard player. HE also said the tour went really well and the new guitarist (Andrey Smirnov) is Russian so they decided to put it out.  Fair enough.    I’d rather have it than not.

What I’m pleased with is that there is virtually no song duplication only one song (Metal Heart) appears on both albums so that is a major bonus. In addition this is much more of an U.D.O.  album with only one Accept song in the set-list, compared to LIVE IN SOFIA which had nine Accept songs in the set-list.   This set also relied heavily on the first four U.D.O. albums, with nine tracks of the 20 songs drawn from those solo albums.

In terms of presentations this is another huge theater/small arena show, stripped down set design, not too many lights or anything like that. If anything there is a bit less production value than LIVE IN SOFIA but it is still top-notch.   The band blitz through the tracks.  Udo, as a frontman, has never been known for huge audience engagement, just workman like delivery.   It is a great show.

There are three bonus features totalling about 42 minutes.  One feature is live song, a long version of ‘Trainride In Russia from the THUNDERBALL album.  It seems weird that they didn’t include it in the concert in the first place, or maybe it was recorded at another show on the tour, they never said.  It is sort of neat they have a guest star in a Russian sailor uniform come out and play a traditional acoustic stringed instrument.  It is a huge crowd sing-along sung in Russian naturally. It is a nice commemoration of the 10th anniversary of this popular comedy/drinking song.

There is an eight-minute montage of behind the scenes footage from the seven date Russian tour.  There is lots of footage of airports and train stations and setting up gear and few short interviews clips inserted.  There is also some footage of Udo wearing a bodycam and performing, ‘Trainride In Russia’ again.
The main feature is called ‘Russian Travel Documentation which opens with…you guessed it a trainride in Russia which is a 26 minute tour documentary.  I saved this segment for last thinking it would be best and then…crushing disappointment!  It is in German and no sub-titles!  I struggled through picking out the few familiar words and trying to match it up to images on the screen but it was hard.

What I did really like is that this was a ‘real’ documentary.  On most DVD’s they call it a documentary but in reality it is just clips strung together.  This is actually a full-on, professionally produced documentary that aired on TV for IM Focus, a German production company.  It has a narration, graphics, interviews and a fully produced story.  It looks amazing, I just wish I could understand what they are saying.   It tells the story of the bands journey of literally thousands and thousands of kilometers across that great nation.

Despite my linguistic disadvantages, U.D.O., Udo and AFM have delivered yet another top-notch Double Live CD/DVD set.   Up next in this mini-series of three, my review of NAVY METAL NIGHT.