Accept – O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London
The house lights faded, the strains of Gehenne Incendiis surged through the PA system and Hell (8) blasted straight into The Age Of Nefarious. A relatively small but enthusiastic crowd had gathered at the front of the stage and this continued to grow as Hell’s 40 minute set progressed. It’s interesting watching the audience reaction to this most excellent band. I'm now a veteran of several Hell shows, including the magnificent show stopping performance at BOA a couple of years ago, but there were clearly many in the crowd for whom this was a new experience. This band has an excellent catalogue of music with which to win over the naysayers. The set was blistering with the guitar work of Andy Sneap and Kev Bowers melting faces. Tracks from the last release, Curse And Chapter including Something Wicked This Way Comes and Land Of The Living Dead are now staples in the set along with the favourites from the first release, Human Remains including The Quest and the brilliant On Earth As It Is In Hell. Complimented by double Baphomet and huge Hell banner at the rear of the stage and an excellently balanced light show, Hell put on their usual energetic performance and by the end of their set had no doubt gained a few more followers. Dave Bowers continues to be one of the most entertaining frontmen in metal, with his thespian leanings adding to the theatrical delivery which enhances rather than distracts the performance whilst the bass and drums of Tony Speakman and Tim Bowler provide the most solid foundations. Like Orange Goblin, there is no such thing as a bad Hell show and I never tire of catching this superb British band in the live arena.
The set timings stated that Accept (10) would be on stage at 20:45 and surprise, surprise, at 20:45 Wolf Hoffmann and co hit the stage. Backed by an enormous raging bull backdrop, the cover of their recent Blind Rage album, the band opened at 100mph and didn't slow down for the next two hours. Stampede followed by Stalingrad had the crowd, by now a good deal healthier but nowhere near as full as this great band deserved, pumping their fists in the sky. In many ways, Accept are the quintessential heavy metal band. Their tracks are straightforward; they kick your ass and demand that you bang your head. With a back catalogue of excellent music, the band delivered one of the best sets I've ever witnessed at a gig. Old school tunes included the ridiculous London Leatherboys, Son Of A Bitch, Living For Tonite, Midnight Mover, the battering ram of Restless And Wild and a rare outing for Flash Rocking Man which got the place going crazy. Yes, Accept attract a lot of old school metal fans and when the band pulled some of the oldies out the reaction was superb.
Accept is not a band living on glory days of the past though and their also delivered a healthy portion of tracks from their last few albums, Blood Of The Nations, Stalingrad and Blind Rage. Guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes remain the heart and soul of the band, being the original members and they took centre stage for most of the evening including a ridiculous yet enjoyable bass vs guitar duel. Vocalist Mark Tornillo’s vocal delivery was perfect and he kept the in-between song patter to a minimum, allowing the music to do the talking. He cajoled and encouraged the crowd throughout, with a huge number of sing-a-longs and clapping. In fact, I'm completely out of “whooo’s” such was the participation. The band is completed by Christopher Williams and guitarist Uwe Lulis who both put in an excellent shift. It must have been difficult to fill the shoes of those who had gone before them but both musicians looked comfortable in their setting, with Lulis adding some very tasty solos and rhythm whilst Williams is a powerhouse of a drummer, utilising the double bass drums to maximum effect.
One of the great things about Accept is that their more recent material sits effortlessly alongside their classic works; Teutonic Terror, Pandemic, Beat The Bastards, Shadow Soldiers, Fall Of The Empire all featured and were received like old favourites. A magnificent Princess Of The Dawn, complete with synchronised moves moved the show along and all of a sudden it was time for another sing-a-long, this time to the opening bars of Ein Heller Und Ein Baten before the band hammered into Fast As A Shark. This track is just amazing and as the band blasted through it I remembered the reception it had in 1982; definitely one of the forerunners of the thrash movement, with the use of the double bass drums almost unique in those days (if you read Scott Ian’s autobiography he credits Fast As A Shark as being the track that started a generation). As the encores kicked in the atmosphere in the venue increased still further and a stunning Metal Heart raised the temperature again. Teutonic Terror and Son Of A Bitch led to the final track, inevitably Balls To The Wall but with the additional axe input of Andy Sneap. Three flying Vs on stage; cue magnificent poses and synchronised moves.( It was interesting to hear several different people of the way home referring to Sneap as “the guy from Hell”, oblivious to his other massive input into the world of metal via his excellent production skills). As the band closed the evening, I reflected on my first encounter with them, back in 1986 on the Russian Roulette tour. They were breath-taking then, but I’d have to say that this performance raised the bar even higher. Absolutely brilliant.