U.D.O.-Live In Bulgaria 2020

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Reviewed: August, 2022
Released: 2021, AFM Records
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: JP

Depending how you count this is U.D.O.’s sixth or seventh or ninth live album. Ever since signing with AFM he has been so consistent and prolific, this being his fourth, Double Live, CD/DVD set packaged in a double digipak.

U.D.O. is becoming much like Rush, Dream Theater, Nightwish and Iron Maiden who all release live albums for every tour cycle. REV-RAPTOR (2011) had its live companion, LIVE IN SOFIA, STEELHAMMER (2013) had LIVE FROM MOSCOW, and DECADENT (2015) had NAVY METAL NIGHT.

Now, the awkwardly titled LIVE IN BULGARIA 2020-PANDEMIC SURVIVAL SHOW rides on the tail end of the STEELFACTORY tour. I’m personally glad he keeps churning out live albums; they are all consistently awesome!

Somehow the band managed to squeeze in a live gig in between waves of the Wuhan Flu and they went back to their stronghold of Bulgaria. Filmed and recorded at the iconic Plovdiv Theater, the site of some ancient ruins, this gig is just 140k down the road from where U.D.O. filmed and recorded LIVE IN SOFIA. It is a gorgeous venue and many bands such as Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Sons Of Apollo and Devin Townsend have recorded live albums there.

In terms of packaging and presentation, this set is very similar to the other three AFM era live albums; a nice double digipak, big booklet, clear sound and great production values.

I’m always so impressed that U.D.O. showcases their new material with no less than six of the sixteen actual U.D.O. songs (less intros, solos and Accept covers), being drawn from STEELFACTORY. Interesting to note that Udo seems to be going back on his statements that he would no longer play Accept songs with U.D.O.

I’m personally a bit disappointed with his change of mind. Do we really need another 11-minute live version of ‘Princess of The Dawn? The true answer is yes, obviously but by way of comparison, the bands last live album, NAVY METAL NIGHT had no Accept songs and prior to that LIVE FROM MOSCOW only had one! LIVE IN BULGARIA has five (!) and the total run time of those songs is about 45 minutes, a full third of the two-hour, 18-minute concert! I’m not sure what changed but I read that promoters were really pressuring the band to play Accept songs live.

The DVD/concert was one of the more interesting to look at in terms of set because of the unique architecture of Plovdiv.  The massive stage was minimalistic allowing everyone in the natural amphitheater to see the ancient ruins. It reminded me a bit like the amphitheater at the HammerFall DVD, GATES OF DALHALLA.  The band ripped it up across the two-hour plus concert.  The pacing and tempo was excellent, a nice mix of fast , slow, solos, audience participation segments, massive sing-alongs,  all led by the ringleader himself, Mr. Udo.   ‘TimeBomb’ sounded positively fierce and a newer ballad, ‘Rose In The Desert’ is a hidden gem.  The harmonized twin lead soloing by newcomer Fabian Dammers and veteran Andrew during  ‘Fast As A Shark’ (second encore) brought steel tears of joy to my electric eye.  The bonus material was largely inconsequential, just five minutes of a camera wandering around backstage and on stage before the show.

It was a magnificent night to behold and I’m so glad they captured this special concert for all of us to enjoy. I can only summarize this long-winded and likely over/analytical review by saying I will always welcome new live material from U.D.O.! This is as good as any of his other live albums.

Track Listing:

1. Tongue Reaper 04:35
2. Make the Move 04:33
3. Midnight Mover (Accept cover) 04:32
4. The Wrong Side of Midnight 04:28
5. Metal Machine 04:53
6. Independence Day 07:22
7. Rose in the Desert 06:16
8. Vendetta 04:46
9. Rising High 04:04
10. Prologue: The Great Unknown 02:23
11. In the Darkness 04:57
12. I Give as Good as I Get 04:59
13. Princess of the Dawn (Accept cover) 11:28

Disc 2
1. Timebomb 05:13
2. Drum Solo 04:10 instrumental
3. Bass Solo 03:41 instrumental
4. Hungry and Angry 04:21
5. One Heart One Soul 06:22
6. Man and Machine 06:48
7. Animal House 04:46
8. They Want War 05:22
9. Metal Heart (Accept cover) 11:01
10. Fast as a Shark (Accept cover) 05:26
11. Balls to the Wall (Accept cover) 10:41
12. Outro (Stillness of Time) 01:09

Line Up:

Udo Dirkschneider Vocals
Andrey Smirnov Guitars
Sven Dirkschneider Drums
Tilen Hudrap Bass
Dee Dammers Guitars