||STEVE GÖLDBY'S METAL CHRONICLES
O2 Academy Islington, London
Saturday 4th April 2015
It's U.D.O.'s first gig in London for sixteen years and there's a big crackle of anticipation in the air as we await the appearance of one of Metal's true masters.
A lot has happened since Herr Dirkschneider last graced these shores in late 1999, a performance that I still remember very clearly due to it's quality, power and precision. It's a totally different line-up now with the new guitar team of Andrey Smirnov and Kasperi Heikkinen in place and Udo's son Sven, who recently stood in for Saxon while Nigel Glockler was recovering from a brain aneurysm. Bassist Fitty Wienhold is the longest serving band member (apart from Udo himself of course) and the band also have touring keyboard player Uli Köllner with them tonight.
I've seen U.D.O. many times since that night at The Underworld in 1999 but always at European festivals and he's always been quite high up the bill so this was a very different experience and it was good but not great. The band were more than competent and the setlist was good, despite the omission of 'Holy', but something was lacking atmosphere-wise.
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I expected the Academy to be fuller than it was for the simple reason that the man is a real legend and he hadn't been here for a long, long time but it was easy to move around, unlike the last three times I have been there when it was literally rammed to capacity.
However, it was Easter weekend with many people out of town, the train network was badly messed up and there was competition at other venues but even so, this was an opportunity to see a great with no guarantee of when he may next visit so despite mitigating factors, it was a disappointing attendance.
The band sounded great and once again, Udo has assembled a talented and vibrant band who are more than doing him proud live. We expect nothing less than a bombastic and blistering performance from a U.D.O. band and that's what we got for the most part. Perhaps a little more volume would have made the difference as while this performance kicked, it didn't scream as well, although I think this is nothing more than an ever so slight off-day which can be explained in the large part by the disappointing attendance.
The stage setting was magnificent with the whole area decked out in combat materials. Udo was, of course, the very first to wear combats on stage back in his Accept days and he certainly started something there. He started something too with his solo career and he's produced some truly great songs with his various line-ups over the years but he will never be able to ignore his Accept past and it was the four old Accept numbers which got the biggest cheers tonight.
He saved them all for the encores and included 'I'm A Rebel', a song that was originally offered to AC/DC who passed on it. 'Metal Heart' was truly outstanding and 'Fast As A Shark' was given a new twist when the audience provided the complete 'Ein Heller und ein Batzen' intro and we went out on a furious version of 'Balls To The Wall'.
The new album's title track was followed by a truly brilliant rendition of 'Independence Day' and we were treated to five numbers in all from 'Decadent', the standout being 'Secrets In Paradise' where Kasperi and Andrey duetted, Flamenco style, on acoustics. A real rousing moment and the highlight of the evening for me.
'The Bullet And The Bomb' is always a highlight of U.D.O. shows and here is another example of how good this new line-up is. They've got a little extra something that previous incarnations of the band may have occasionally lacked. In short, it's an improvement and I look forward to catching them at a European festival this summer which is where U.D.O. works best.
Udo Dirkschneider - vocals
Andrey Smirnov - guitar
Fitty Wienhold - bass
Kasperi Heikkinen - guitar
Sven Dirkschneider - drums
Uli Köllner - keyboards
Intro: (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)
Blitz Of Lightning
King Of Mean
Never Cross My Way
The Bullet And The Bomb
Under Your Skin
Tears Of A Clown
Secrets In Paradise
Let Me Out
Break The Rules
I'm A Rebel
Fast As A Shark
Balls To The Wall
2015 Tour Dates
Apr 09 E Madrid Sala Caracol
Apr 10 E Valladolid Pabellón Pozal de Gallinas
Apr 11 E Pamplona Sala Totem
Apr 12 E Valencia Sala Rock City
Apr 14 E Ibiza Castillo de Dalt Vila (Full Metal Cruise II)
Apr 16 E Barcelona Sala Salamandra
Apr 17 E Zaragoza CC Delicias
Apr 19 A Dornbirn Conrad Sohm
Apr 23 S Stockholm Klubben
Apr 24 S Borlänge Liljan
Apr 25 S Gothenborg Trädgårn
Apr 26 S Malmö KB
Apr 30 N Oslo Vulkan Arena
May 01 N Haugesund Karmoygeddon Festival
May 02 N Trondheim Byscenen
May 05 LT Vilnius Forum Palace
May 07 FIN Vaasa Leipätehdas
May 08 FIN Jyväskylä Lutakko
May 09 FIN Lahti Finlandia Klubi
May 10 FIN Helsinki Nosturi
May 30 S Brunflo Beast Of Rock 2015
Jun 27 FO Tórshavn Voxbotn 2015
Jul 09 CZ Vizovice Masters Of Rock
Jul 30 D Wacken Wacken Open Air
Jul 31 S Rejmyre Skogsröjet
Aug 08 D St. Goarshausen RockFels Open Air
Oct 03 D Geiselwind F.E.K. 9
Nov 28 D Leipzig Brann Winterfest
Photos by Solange Moreira-Yeoell
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