While his former band Accept have been tearing it up on North American shores for the last couple of years, vocalist Udo Dirckschneider and his band U.D.O. have been steadily releasing new albums but have not made the trek over for live dates. That has all changed here in 2013 as the singer and his new line-up, guitarists Kasperi Heikkinen & Andrey Smirnov, bassist Fitty Wienhold, and drummer Francesco Jovino are criss crossing the US and set to release their latest CD Steelhammer. Sea of Tranquility Publisher was on hand for the show at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY, with US progressive/power metal act Halcyon Way as direct support.
Halcyon Way have been around now for a bunch of years, and their latest release for Nightmare Records Indoctrination is actually a very solid slab of power, progressive, classic and thrash metal, with a sprinkling of death metal vocals thrown in on a few songs. Lead vocalist Steve Braun, with his long mane of blonde hair is a good frontman who also possesses a powerful voice, giving most of these heavy songs an accessible edge. When the occasional death metal growl is needed, lead guitarist Jon Bodan steps in and delivers, but the axe work from he and Sergio Quesada were stellar on this evening, each one contributing a wide variety of crushing riffs which at times bordered on the technical side. Though perhaps Halcyon Way's music was a tad on the 'progressive' side for the multitude of classic metal fans in attendance, and they were given just about a full hour which is somewhat long for an opener, their anthemic and melodic metal songs were well received and surely they gained some new fans on this evening.
In the end though, it was all about U.D.O. and the return of the legendary German vocalist. With a set that was heavy on solo material with just a handful of old Accept favorites making cut, the band were very tight and Udo himself in surprisingly good form vocally. Though he's aged and gained a few pounds, his gravelly voice has lost nothing over the years. Heavy solo tunes like "Rev-Raptor", "Thunderball", "Metal Machine", "Animal House", and "Timebomb" were all well received, but you could tell that not all the 200 or so in attendance were familiar with his solo repertoire and just wanted the Accept stuff, which is a shame as U.D.O. has really put out some solid albums over the years. The fans of course were ecstatic for classics like "Screaming for a Love Bite", "Head Over Heels", "Metal Heart", "Balls to the Wall", and the raging closer "Fast as a Shark", but the focus of the evening was more about the solo material and debuting the new line-up. New axe-slingers Heikkinen & Smirnov both performed very well and each even had a few minutes to do an unaccompanied guitar solo (don't see those too often any more!), which kept all the guitar lovers in the house happy.
While this show by U.D.O. didn't quite reach the lofty standards set by Accept's NYC show a few months ago (one of the most incredible metal concerts I've witnessed in some time) this was still a fun, solid night of live heavy metal by one of the legends of the genre. Welcome back guys!
They Want War
Screaming for a Love-Bite
Head Over Heels
Man and Machine
Break the Rules
Balls to the Wall
Fast as a Shark