Accept & Raven sellout Gramercy Theater, NYC 9-15-14

By popular consensus, Monday may just be everyone’s least favorite day of the week. Back to work for most, it represents the end of leisure and a return to the humdrum of the grind. September 15th might just have been another one in a long line of lackluster Mondays, unless of course one was lucky enough to be at Gramercy Theater at around 8:00 that evening. Because nothing blows the dust off a Monday night like two legends of heavy metal, showcasing their decades of chops in a venue large enough to make it feel massive, but intimate enough to stay in everyone’s faces.

The band Raven may not be as recognizable as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy, but make no mistake, the Newcastle, England trio helped launch heavy metal as we know it right alongside them. Combining thrash and power metal with a bit of street punk verve thrown in for good measure, Raven got things off to a hair-whipping start. The venue was utterly packed before the first string was plucked, much to the delight of brothers and founding members John and Mark Gallagher (bass/lead vocals and guitar/backing vocals respectively), and drummer (since 1987) Joe Hasselvander. Plowing through classics “Take Control,” “All For One,” and “Rock Until You Drop,” the veteran rockers looked comfortable and younger than their years. Their style informed so much of the development of metal through its formative years, with only a small window of commercial success in the states back in the early eighties. The same beer-soaked, leather clad breath of inspiration which powered Metallica in their early days was evident as Raven stormed through their classic set. Mark Gallagher expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the crowd’s support, and talked about a new Raven album which is currently in the works. It is definitely a good time to be a fan of heavy metal music, with so much new life coming from the genre’s old guard.

Speaking of new life, Teutonic thrashers Accept got a healthy dose of their own when Jersey born singer Mark Tornillo took over the mic from Udo Dirkschneider, injecting guitarist Wolf Hoffmann’s venerable beast with the shot in the arm they needed. The results of that lineup change spoke for themselves Monday night. A huge backdrop featuring the menacing bull off their new album Blind Rage hung behind the stage, the potential energy of a roaring charge mirrored by the energy of the crowd. Appetites whetted by Raven’s performance, the anticipation flavored the air like the tang of sweat and the waft of spilled beer.

A healthy roar accompanied the boys as they took the stage, charging into “Stampede” and then on into “Stalingrad,” both songs penned after 2010 by a band who began in the late 60’s; both songs ratcheting up the excitement like it was ‘back then’ all over again. They gave us classics like “Restless and Wild” and “London Leatherboys” right alongside new anthems like “200 Years” and “Shadow Soldiers.” This last one Mark dedicated to soldiers serving at home and abroad, just as he has done in the past. The svelte vocalist may not be much younger than his band mates, but he is clearly a man who has taken care of himself. His vocal attack and his energy cannot be denied.

Wolf Hoffmann and charismatic bass player Peter Baltes engaged in a bass solo/guitar solo interplay during the song “No Shelter,” conjuring memories of Cliff Burton and generally wowing the crowd into a rush of loud jubilation. One of the new numbers Accept debuted, “From the Ashes We Rise,” features a great eponymous singalong which should ensure this song remains in their set-list going forward. Same goes for “Dark Side of My Heart,” a mid-paced fist-in-the-air rocker that stands tall alongside their classic material.

“Princess of the Dawn” was aired out, as was the inimitable “Fast as a Shark.” One of thrash metal’s greatest anthems, the double bass attack churned the pit into something you would see at a death metal show. What a way to finish! Thankfully, they returned for an encore of “Metal Heart,” “Teutonic Terror,” and “Balls to the Wall,” the last one eliciting a wall-to-wall singalong that virtually brought the house crashing to the ground.

Accept know how to rock. They are at a height in their career perhaps not seen since the early eighties, and New York City was treated to a showcase of a band in control. Bring them back again soon – it is always a blast.

Read the review of Accept's Blind Rage here
Read the review of Accept’s Blind Rage here

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