As the original frontman of one of Germany's most renowned contributions to heavy metal, Udo Dirkschneider had mostly moved on from his Accept roots with his first solo album Animal House 31 years ago. Having made more solo records than Accept ones, the short but statuesque vocalist with the balls-of-fury voice could carry on just fine on the strength of his newer material overseas.
But American fans are a different breed. Particularly in a city that cherishes its classic heavy metal.
So when Dirkschneider returned to the Alamo City on Jan. 27 last year, showcasing two hours of nothing-but-Accept tunes during his "Back to the Roots" tour that had been billed as the final time he would be singing the songs of his former band, that figured to be his ultimate performance in San Antonio. But even that wasn't enough.
Dirkschneider staged "Back to the Roots 2" on Tuesday night at The Rock Box, armed with a vastly different set than his preceding visit that was strictly his most recent live album performed in its entirety. Armed this time with Australian band Elm Street making its San Antonio live debut along with locals Seance and Killstorm (stay tuned for photos of those bands here), Dirkschneider delved deeper into his Accept vault as part of a 20-song, 1-hour and 48-minute showing (setlist at bottom).
Backed by guitarists Andrey Smirnov and Bill Hudson plus bassist Fitty Wienhold and his son Sven Dirkschneider on drums, Udo Dirkschneider eased into his set with surprising 1994 opener "The Beast Inside." Belying its title, the song was more of a mood-setter than a crunching way to start the show. But Udo was only getting warmed up.
"Aiming High" and "Bulletproof" were more examples of some of Accept's deeper cuts before the popular "Midnight Mover" (ATM footage here) got things rolling even louder for the enthusiastic crowd. The concert was supposed to be in the larger Vibes Event Center portion of The Rock Box but suffered from a Tuesday work and school night. No matter. Those on hand made their presence known on other classic mainstays such as "Up to the Limit," "Screaming for a Love-Bite" (ATM Facebook Live footage here) and audience favorite "Princess of the Dawn."
Dirkschneider and his bandmates also unexpectedly broke out Spanish ballad "Amamos La Vida" (ATM Facebook Live footage here). A somewhat shocking choice not just because Accept is not known for ballads. But also because the German vocal powerhouse has always been noted by original and still-current Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann as not having written most of the band's lyrics due to his English not having been very fluent, as Hoffmann told ATM in 2016 here.
Yet there Dirkschneider was breaking out a bit of Espanol.
Dirkschneider, who spoke exclusively to ATM in 2015 (listen here), kept the talking to a minimum, letting his music mostly do it for him. He bellowed his appreciation for San Antonio on multiple occasions and kept the hits and deeper cuts coming, including "London Leatherboys," "Breaker" and "Can't Stand the Night." Meanwhile, Accept stalwart "Fast as a Shark" (ATM footage below) cemented Dirkschneider's legacy and popularity in the Alamo City yet again.
While there was no outward promise of a Back to the Roots 3 at some point, there was also no definitive declaration this was Udo's farewell of Accept to San Antonio. If it was, the 65-year-old didn't just go out in style.
He went out with balls to the wall.
SETLIST: The Beast Inside, Aiming High, Bulletproof, Midnight Mover, Living for Tonight, Another Second to Be, Fight it Back, Can't Stand the Night, Amamos La Vida, London Leatherboys, Up to the Limit, Breaker, Screaming for a Love-Bite, Love Child, Objection Overruled, Wargames, Princess of the Dawn, Metal Heart, Fast as a Shark, Balls to the Wall