Accept, Kings X House of Blues October 13, 2010
While modern heavy metal is split into so many categories and subsets that you practically need a field guild to tell your headbangers apart, things weren't so complicated back in the early '80s when Germany's Accept had their heyday.
But if Tuesday night's show proved anything, it's that solid, electrifying, and (yes) balls-to-the-wall classic heavy metal, played by seasoned pros who actually look like they're having a good time doing it will never be dated or defined by an era (we're talkin' to you, New Romantics!).
Houston's own King's X opened the show with an hour-long set of proficient rock, singer/bassist Dug Pinnick having lost nothing of his vocal range. Aftermath is not too familiar with their music, but a good chunk of the crowd was, singing along with every word to every number.
Touring in their first record in 14 years, the fercious Blood of the Nations, Accept put on old-school show of the highest order. We're talking dual Flying V guitar solos, synchronized stage poses, bottom-feeding bass solos, and many fist-pumps and double bass drums on standout performances of "Restless and Wild," "Metal Heart," "Losers and Winners" and "Fast As a Shark."
And while Aftermath did not get "Turn Me On" or "Love Child" as hoped for, the set list reflected picks from most of the band's discography, adding opener "Starlight, " Living for Tonight," and "To the Limit" among others.
Surprisingly, some of the better peformances sprung from Blood, including the near-thrash sounds of "Teutonic Terror," "Bucket Full of Hate," and a standout "Pandemic," which was a favorite of Aftermath's cohort, "Metal" Manny Cruz.
Guitarist/bandleader Wolf Hoffmann, along with co-founding bassist Peter Baltes, found a lot of joy in their performances with palpable looks, something that's sadly increasingly rare among bands. And they weren't simply trotting out the old stuff for the fans, but had something fresh to offer - even skewering Wall Street and "the Bernie Madoffs of the world" in "No Shelter."
And if anyone in the audience had doubts about new vocalist Mark Tornillo's ability to step in for original growler Udo Dirkschneider, their concerns were put to rest by the third song of the night.
A tightly-coiled, leather-clad ball of energy, Tornillo (his name appropriate for his larnynx-shredding singing style) was a frontman all his own, though often ceding the spotlight to Hoffmann, Baltes and second guitarist Herman Frank's stinging solos as drummer Stefan Schwarzmann pounded the backbeat.
By the time the nearly two-hour set closed with (what else?) an extended "Balls to the Wall" - with Dug Pinnick lending a throat - the crowd had thinned considerably. But you wouldn't know it by the look on Hoffmann's face, ecstatic about another go-round with Accept. And while his hair may have disappeared, the energy and passion certainly hasn't.
Personal Bias: Aftermath has learned much about Accept's music in the past month in preparation for our interview with Hoffman, and is an unabashed fan of the new record. And who wouldn't be charmed by getting a personal 30-minute lesson in the band history's from Accept's manager/mother hen/lyricist/Wolf's wife, the diminutive but tough Gaby Hoffmann, after the show?
The Crowd: Sparse, but dedicated. 90 percent black T-shirts. Sausage Fest.
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Overheard In the Crowd: "Hey! Where's Udo?"
Random Notebook Dump: Tears for Dio. Aftermath was wearing our Dio T-shirt, and no less than three dudes came up to us - one practically crying - and said "I miss him, man."