Accept @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago (US)

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ACCEPT / SABATON

Date: 22nd April, 2011
Venue: The Bottom Lounge
Ticket: $27 ( €19)
Promoter: n/a


The sky looked really unfriendly with all the dark clouds while the sever weather warning seemed like the icing on the cake. But, this was not enough to stop METAL KAOZ from going to the ACCEPT gig in Chicago. After all, the band had proved its worth to Illinois some months ago in the picturesque venue at St. Charles. This time ACCEPT had as opening band the uprising SABATON who had already stormed Europe with their energetic performances.

When I arrived at the most welcome The Bottom Lounge I faced a long line of people waiting patiently to enter the concert area after the ongoing meet and greet had finished. It was nice looking at this mix of ages since ACCEPT have been around from the 80s and their comeback with “Blood On The Nations” really reactivated the old fans and after some time brought fresh blood.

So, ten minutes before the scheduled starting time the lights went out and EUROPE’s “Final Countdown” was the surprise intro for the Swedes. I really like the fact that SABATON pay respect to the rich Hard Rock / Heavy Metal tradition and I was also surprised that the US audience was familiar to this trademark tune (especially the young metalheads). After the song had finished another intro brought the band members onstage and without wasting more time they kicked off their setlist with “Ghost Division”. Having in mind what Joakim told in the interview we did before the show about not having time to do a soundcheck I found the average sound as a logical consequence. This lasted only a couple of minutes since the guys behind the soundboard did what they had and gave the great sound that The Bottom Lounge “serves” each time. The band entered having the foot on the throttle being determined to win the most from the 40 minutes setlist. And man, what an entrance that was! The fast and groovy rhythm of “Ghost Division” blew the roof of the venue while the audience followed this energy flow by singing and fist/head banging. The band and in particular Joakim seemed genuinely surprised by this reaction and gave 101% making the stage looking really small to hold them. By the second song “Uprising”, everyone on the stage was sweating their ass off totally pumped up by the Chicago fans. The singer told us that he had goose bumps even though that was just the second song and underlined the fact that this was the best response they had in the recent and debut US tour.

“I see some Polish SABATON friends here; so, do you know Władysław Raginis? Of course you do! So, join us in “40:1””! And more chaos was created… Only stopping to say thanks -leaving aside the usual SABATON humour (you will see why in the interview)- the band delivered “Saboteurs” and the amazing“Cliffs Of Gallipoli”. “We are going to do another song from the new album, Joakim said and so they did “Coat Of Arms”. Now, I am definitely not a nationalist but I felt something when the singer pointed at me while singing the lyrics “Coat of arms banners fly in the wind! For the glory of Hellas!” (obviously he knew I was Greek since I told him during the interview) “Primo Victoria” was welcomed with additional enthusiasm since it was dedicated to the US troops and their sacrifice in the D-day on the 6th of June 1944. But, the time went by really fast and SABATON had to leave the stage with “Metal Machine”. I am dead sure that in September SABATON will face a bigger fan based in their return to Chicago supporting EVEGREY!

SABATON

Sabaton @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Sabaton @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Sabaton @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Sabaton @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Sabaton @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Sabaton @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


After the very good start I started feeling curious about ACCEPT. After their appearance at St. Charles the band had gone to Europe and after some months returned to the US due to the high selling numbers of “Blood Of Nations”. So, I was curious to see what the changes would be especially in their chemistry with the new singer.

After a 15 minutes delay the German Metal legends showed up with a massive sound and a great mood despite the non-stop touring schedule. Of course, the driving force in the latest edition of ACCEPT is Wolf and Peter who are most of the time in the spotlight. When it was time for the vocals, Mark showed up looking really relaxed and quite comfortable in his position behind the mic. I think it is common knowledge  that a band becomes better and better while rehearsing and that there is no better place to rehearse than onstage. Of course, the fact that the rest of the band had already a solid form it was up to Mark to fit in the puzzle. And I think he did! He was less focused in his singing having built his confidence and I think he did it by overcoming part of the stage fright due to the inevitable comparison with Udo. Of course, you can still feel that he has not been totally absorbed by ACCEPT but I think is a matter to time.

What I really liked with the band’s set was that it was tight without useless breaks and pauses. In fact, they did the first four songs (I think so) back to back and it was no surprise that everyone was soaked in sweat following the band's energetic performance. The band looked and sounded super tight and I think Stefan’s drum work has to be acknowledge for the sound part. Having the click track as guide he was holding the rhythm section without missing a single beat giving the band the strong foundations to build upon. Wolf delivered his lead parts as always with a lot of posing and I say that without any negative meaning. I don’t care if he is faking it since he is in total connection with the fans who as it seems love him. Peter was the perfect partner in crime having the same time share in the spotlight and sweated his arse off pounding the bass like a teenager.

Mark underlined my impression that he has improved by nailing “Restless And Wild” and “Neon Nights” with vocals very close to the original versions. Especially in the latter one, where he almost failed to deliver that night in St Charles.  The song that made feel very happy with his singing (I strongly believe he is the perfect fit for ACCEPT) was “Bulletproof” who did very well especially in the lower pitches.

As it usually happens in ACCEPT gigs there is a lot of singing especially in songs like “Metal Heart”, “Son Of Bitch”, “Aiming High” and the usual suspect “Princess Of The Dawn” where the band chose to not overdo it with the singing along tradition. The regular set ended in high speed with “Burning” that rose the indoor heat some additional degrees and then it was time to say good night for the first time. The audience went nowhere and brought the band back onstage after the trademark “Heidi Heido…” intro that spread the enthusiasm like wild fire. A huge pit was formed right in the middle of the venue as the band hit the “Fast As A Shark” fast and tight. It was insane! The age mix was struggling in the mosh pit while the band showed no mercy throwing “Pandemic” with no pause. The last song of the night was “Balls To The Wall”. During this hymn a +10 boy showed up in stage (he was with his dad as part of the audience) and the band welcomed the really young fan by giving him a microphone to sing along. And there I was watching this young boy on stage with ACCEPT while beside me was a man in his late 40s enjoying the concert to the maximum. Is this an age mix or what?

There is absolutely no doubt that ACCEPT did meet all the expectations and showed loud signs of improvement. I hope they will continue with this momentum and return to the studio to deliver another great album! The thick fog was the only downside that cold and dumb night in Chicago!

ACCEPT setlist:

01. "Teutonic Terror"
02. "Bucket Full of Hate"
03. "Starlight"
04. "Breaker"
05. "New World Coming"
06. "Restless and Wild"
07. "Son of a Bitch"
08. "Monsterman"
09. "Metal Heart"
10. "Neon Nights"
11. "Bulletproof"
12. "Losers and Winners"
13. "Aiming High"
14. "Princess of the Dawn"
15. "Up to Limit"
16. "Burning"
17. "Fast As A Shark"
18. "Pandemic"
19. "Balls To The Wall"

ACCEPT

Accept @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Accept @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Accept @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Accept @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Accept @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Accept @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Accept @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Accept @ The Bottom Lounge (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)