Mehr! Theater, Hamburg, Germany
January 12, 2018
On a chilly gray Friday in northern Germany, the legendary Accept roared into town to kick off the European leg of The Rise of Chaos Tour 2018. Tonight’s venue was the Mehr! Theater, a cavernous modern structure located in a commercial complex near the Hamburg waterfront. The German heavy metal faithful turned out in full force to see their heroes in action, and by showtime the venue was jammed with roughly 2,500 delirious headbangers.
Accept fashioned a massive stage production befitting the occasion, utilizing a post-apocalyptic theme that essentially brings to life the cover artwork from The Rise of Chaos. As the taped intro announced their impending arrival, the Teutonic terrors stormed onstage at 9:00 p.m. sharp with a heart-racing rendition of the new record’s stirring opener, “Die by the Sword.” As the band shifted into crowd favorite “Stalingrad,” the intensity reached an even higher peak. For the next two-plus hours, Accept thrilled the Hamburg audience with a generous 21-song set that expertly balanced old classics and new material, with nary a weak link or lull in energy to be found. Following evergreen “Breaker,” singer Mark Tornillo (sporting his trademark sunglasses and army-style hat) addressed the crowd for the first time, telling us about Accept’s new album and how pleased they were to be presenting material from it here tonight. A selection of four tracks from The Rise of Chaos followed in quick succession, and the crowd’s voices joined the backing vocals in unison on the choruses of tracks like “Koolaid” and “Analog Man in a Digital World,” which were welcomed with the same fervor as old favorites.
Throughout the evening, guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes worked the stage like the seasoned pros they are, but with obvious relish, easy smiles, boisterous energy, and infectious enthusiasm. The duo made abundant use of the raised platforms lining the front of the stage, and also frequently ventured out on the two catwalks extending into the audience to get closer to their adoring fans. Hoffmann took a dramatic solo spot that led seamlessly into “Neon Nights,” complete with sparkly disco ball lighting effect illuminating the entire hall. Speaking of Wolf and Peter, an absolute highlight of the set occurred during surprise deep cut “Objection Overruled,” which featured a killer vocal from Tornillo (“Horsewhip ‘em!”) and an extended instrumental break in which Hoffmann and Baltes each ventured out onto a ramp and playfully dueled each other with solo after solo.
The last five tracks that Accept performed tonight mark a stretch of unparalleled heavy metal excellence and sheer paradise for the old-school metalhead. Imagine, if you will, the band going from “Pandemic” to “Fast as a Shark” to “Metal Heart” (which began with Hoffmann, Baltes, and Uwe Lulis all perched on platforms, bathed in deep blue light and stage fog as CO2 jets blasted compressed air around them, and ended with a skull-splitting Christopher Williams drum spotlight) to “Teutonic Terror” to “Balls to the Wall.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you throw down the gauntlet and close out a gig in style. The Hamburg audience responded accordingly, with the band members being visibly chuffed with the crowd reaction and Tornillo announcing that this show was the best tour opener ever. Honestly, it didn’t feel like a tour opener at all. Everything was running at peak efficiency and flawless performance all night. Accept are a relentless metal juggernaut, and they are coming to a town near you. Don’t miss those six-string saviors, screams in the night, and war drums pounding. Accept mean business.
The evening’s musical festivities commenced with direct support act, Night Demon. After making waves in the true metal underground for several years as a stellar live band, the trio from Ventura, California has been rewarded with a prize slot opening Accept’s European tour. They are making the most of the opportunity. Indeed, the band’s high-octane musical attack was on full display in Hamburg. Night Demon ripped through a well-received 45-minute set laden with old-school fist-pumping anthems. As a special tribute to the late Fast Eddie Clarke, who had passed away just one day earlier, Night Demon played the first verse and chorus of seminal Motorhead track “Overkill” before segueing into their own “Dawnrider.” Even hooded skeletal mascot Rocky made an appearance on stage during “The Chalice,” urging the audience to drink from the titular goblet. Fans attending this tour should definitely plan to arrive early!
Review by Kit Ekman