When I went down to Cleveland last October to see Accept, I did so on the assumption that it would be my only chance to catch the reunited lineup in action. After all, they were never as big in North America as they were across the pond, so I didn’t think that a more extensive N.A. tour was in order. I’m glad I was wrong. While I had a good idea what to expect going into Wednesday’s gig at the Mod Club, I’m happy to say the Teutonic Terror exceeded expectations.
The gig was off to an early start with support from locals Warmachine and Ash Lee Blade, a pair of bands that have been around forever, or so it seems. If I’ve seen you a handful of times–and you don’t play slow–then you must be veterans of the Toronto metal scene. The former consisted of the same four guys as back in 2007, while the latter had a completely revamped lineup alongside their longstanding frontman. Warmachine seemed to be more radio rock and less metal than I recalled, although they still had a couple heavy tunes. Ash Lee Blade also didn’t play any of the songs I remembered, aside from set-closer “Live For Metal/Die By Rock ‘n Roll” (or something like that), but definitely seemed at ease opening for the 80’s metal legends. They were doing this whole “throwback metal” thing before it became trendy, and although the vocals were a little weak, they got the crowd fired up for what was to come.
Man, I gotta say that touring support act Sabaton earned themselves a spot in my Pretentious Douchebag Hall of Fame. Before taking the stage, the band piped in “The Final Countdown,” in its entirety, over the PA, then proceeded with their own lights-dimmed intro afterwards, before finally taking the stage, one by one. Yes, you’re Swedish–I get it–but that song is cheesier than a jumbo-sized bag of Cheesy Poofs topped with Cheez Whiz.
Speaking of Cheesy Poofs, Sabaton eschewed the traditional power metal garb of purple rhinestone tunics for matching military pants, while their bassist had his instrument painted likewise and their singer sported a vest that Ash Lee Blade wouldn’t be caught dead in. For the finishing touch, both their keyboard player and one of their guitarists had braided beards that would make Static X jealous.
I’m sure that the late 90’s nu-metalers would also be envious of the reception accorded to the Swedish goofballs–especially considering that the former must be working at a couple SoCal McDonald’s nowadays. While they acted like they were the headlining band, and not the 30-minute opening act, Sabaton had a fair bit of support–far exceeding that accorded to King’s X on the last tour. On the whole, the jam-packed Mod Club provided a much livelier atmosphere than the cavernous Agora, of which 75% of its capacity is sit-down space. Alas, the 400-strong crowd was somewhat reduced in size before the headliners went on, and as with the Heaven and Hell gig at the ACC, where all the kids left after Megadeth, I pitied the foos who made an early exit.
Accept had worked out any kinks that existed last October, lemme tell ya! Not only had they upgraded their on-stage equipment–Herman Frank was no longer using a practice amp, and Stefan Schwarzmann had an even bigger kit, decked out with Blood of the Nations drum heads–but the band seemed much more “in sync” this time around. Wolf Hoffman played his axe like a man possessed, while the big-haired Peter Baltes bounced around the stage, somewhat like Steve Harris, shouting out lyrics even when he wasn’t providing backing vocals. Once again, new singer Mark Tornillo provided very little crowd interaction, but less talk, more rock is never a bad thing, is it?
The nineteen-song set had a couple more new tunes than the last time around, but they also dusted off a few deep cuts that I didn’t hear in Cleveland (“Losers and Winners,” “Aiming High,” “Burning”) to go with all the title tracks (“Breaker,” “Restless and Wild,” “Balls to the Wall,” “Metal Heart”) and other anthems like “Son of a Bitch,” “Fast as a Shark” and “Princess of the Dawn”. My only complaint was that I didn’t procure one of those Accept picks that were flying around, despite being directly in front of the stage. Were I a douchebag, I would’ve just yanked one off a mic stand (a couple people did), but I had too much respect for the artist. Hopefully, I’ll get one next time–and if their next tour goes Toronto-Montreal-Quebec City instead of the other way around, I should have more than one chance to do so.
Although I’m a bit biased, Accept being one of my childhood heroes, that was the best gig I’ve seen throughout the first four months of 2011. Udo or no Udo, these guys still got it–and I sure hope there’s more to come!