Live gig review and photos by Adrian Hextall
As I have often stated on these pages, it is a real shame when concert goers remain in the pub for a support band, turning up mere minutes in advance of the arrival of the headliners on stage. Thankfully, the presence of two great bands on the same bill ensures that The Forum is appropriately full long before Voodoo Six get the ball rolling with their brand of Brit metal which, from the start, gets the crowd moving and responsive.
Voodoo Six are the band that once featured Richie Faulkner, the multi talented guitarist who has of course gone on to fill the space vacated in Judas Priest by K.K.Downing. Having risen in stature and profile over the last few years, Voodoo Six also filled the main support slot to Iron Maiden on their “Maiden England” European tour. With that pedigree and a great album in ‘ Songs To Invade Countries To’ to play in support of, it is tremendously sad to hear that health reasons have resulted in lead singer Luke Purdie leaving the band. A talented vocalist, not only will Luke be missed on future albums, but it also leaves the band in a quandary about how to continue short term when they have existing commitments such as the show tonight.
Step forward Nik Taylor Stoakes from Fire Red Empress who fills the vacant centre spot as ‘guest’ vocalist for tonight’s show. It’s a good selection by the band and Nik does a good job with all of the tracks on offer, his voice and performance slotting into the mix like a well oiled machine. The opening with ‘Falling Knives’ and ‘All That Glitters’, with many of the audience clearly fans as the crowd starts to raise hands and bounce from the off. Having gained a feel for working the larger arena stages whilst on tour with Iron Maiden, the band make the most of the space afforded to them at The Forum and will have definitely won a few more fans as a result.
Bassist and band leader Tony Newton is the glue that holds it all together and may well also be the man responsible for teaching Steve Harris all of his stage moves, judging by the performance he puts in tonight. When it comes to working the crowd he gives it his all and with a wild grin and one foot on the monitors, gets the fans to make a good amount of noise during fan favourite ‘Sink Or Swim’.
It will be interesting to see where the band go from here, auditions for a permanent vocalist will need to take place as Purdie’s shoes are quite big ones to fill. Bringing in the right replacement can work wonders for a band and give them a completely knew lease of life, which brings us neatly to Accept.
Nik Taylor Stoakes (Lead Vocals),
Matt Pearce (Guitar),
Chris Jones (Guitar),
Tony Newton (Bass)
Joe Lazarus (Drums)
All That Glitters
Take the Blame
Lead Me On
Sink or Swim
Something for You
Long Way From Home
To me, the impact of bringing former T.T. Quick frontman Mark Tornillo in to Accept replacing Udo Dirkschneider was a turning point in the band’s fortunes. I personally think it’s up there with Bruce Dickinson coming into Iron Maiden as the subsequent albums Blood of the Nations (2010), Stalingrad (2012) and Blind Rage (2014) have become their highest charting albums to date, the latter of which was Accept’s first album to reach number one on the charts in their home country.
Having a long, long history with Dirkschneider, they have sold over 37 million albums worldwide but brief reunions did not deliver anything special so he went back to U.D.O and Accept bring in the services of Tornillo. The global reaction to ‘Blood of the Nations’ proved they were onto a winner and he brings the verve and energy required to help shape the band into the tour-de-force they originally were once more.
Aside from the odd “thank you” and “this next one is from….” the band hit the ground running and don’t stop for the entirety of their 2 hour set. This allows them to put 21 songs into their allotted time a provide a real treat for the UK fans that rarely get to see the band on these shores. As Maiden are expected to do these days, the majority of their set will of course be filled with the Dickinson material but for Accept, with such a vast and well known back catalogue, how do they keep the long time fans happy whilst allowing Tornillo to shine on the newer material. Thankfully, the new material is so strong, all of the fans old and new here tonight know it all word for word and it allows the band to load the set in favour of the new material whilst still tipping the hat towards the classics as and when needed.
They opened with ‘Stampede’, ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘Hellfire’ and simply cannot fail. The crowd moves as one, beaming faces on audience and band alike. Wolf Hoffmann in fact seems incapable of dropping his smile at any point in the show, such is the enjoyment he is clearly getting from this second career with the band he formed so many years ago. When they play ‘200 Years’ the crowd sing along in unison.
When they do play the Dirkschneider fronted material, ‘Losers and Winners’ and ‘London Leatherboys’, Tornillo’s voice is the perfect fit and compliments rather than simply mimics Udo’s voice. ‘Shadow Soldiers’ from the ‘Stalingrad’ album proves the band have the perfect connection with the fans as the roof is nearly lifted off as people join in with the chorus.
A few more classics are thrown into the mix and we get ‘Restless and Wild’, ‘Ahead of the Pack’ and ‘Princess of the Dawn’. As much as the temptation might be to close on newer material, the band knows their fanbase and thus ‘Fast As A Shark’ with its brilliant crackly gramophone intro followed by a shriek from Tornillo closes the main set. Teutonic metal and stomping boots all round The Forum ensure that an encore is only a brief break away and when they return, we are treated to ‘Metal Heart’, ‘Teutonic Terror’ and ‘Balls to the Wall’ the song from their only US gold certified album. They could easily make their way up the bill at festivals next summer and will guarantee a full stage whichever one they play. Excellent stuff!
Wolf Hoffmann – Guitars
Peter Baltes – Bass
Herman Frank – Guitars
Stefan Schwarzmann – Drums
Mark Tornillo – Lead Vocals
Losers and Winners
From the Ashes We Rise
Restless and Wild
Ahead of the Pack
Princess of the Dawn
Dark Side of My Heart
Fast as a Shark
Balls to the Wall