U.D.O. - LIVE: Islington Academy, London 2015

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Decadent Tour
April 4 (20:10 - 22:10)
Capacity 800

The last time U.D.O. played in London was 2002, on the tour for the Man And Machine album. In the intervening 13 years, they've released another seven albums, and the latest, Decadent, has finally convinced UK promoters to book the band for some shows.

With fellow Germans Sister Sin and Austrians Garagedays in tow across most of Europe, the aim was to heavily promote the new album, and with the addition of UK dates, the two-month Decadent Tour is their most geographically extensive for a long time.

Decking out their stage very effectively in camouflage netting - probably the best-looking stage design U.D.O. have had for a long time - the band took the stage to an air raid siren and launched straight into Speeder, probably the fastest track from the new album. For most London fans this was their first look at new live-wire guitar duo Kasperi Heikkinen and Andrey Smirnov, who spent as much time at the front of the stage as band namesake and front-man Udo Dirkschneider. They are liveliest pair of guitarists U.D.O. have had for a long time, and with Udo's young son Sven now on drums, the band has a new energy which translates into their performance.

It turns out Udo himself was actually suffering badly with flu, and had stayed cooped up in his hotel room all day in order to be able to do the show. The fans were none the wiser, as he sounded outstanding. Looking in excellent shape he gave no sign at all that he was ill, nailing every scream better than he has in years, including on the string of classic Accept hits at the end of a set which, as has become the band's way, was completely different to their last tour.

Right off the bat, after the Speeder opener, the band have plucked Blitz of Lightning from obscurity to give long-time fans a real rarity. An album track from Faceless World, it hasn't been played live for 15 years. Naturally plenty more new songs from Decadent feature in the new-look set, along with two from previous album Steelhammer keeping their places (Never Cross My Way and the muscular King of Mean) and a few ever-green classics, but fans were treated to more rarities later on. Black Widow for the first time since 1988, Faceless World itself for the first time in a regular set since 1990, and a brilliant rendition of emotional power ballad Tears of A Clown from 2007's Mastercutor for the first time ever.

As is customary, the band finished with a string of Accept classics which this time included their cover of I'm A Rebel instead of more established numbers like Princess of The Dawn or Restless And Wild, but by that point everyone is waiting for one thing, huge-riffed closer Balls To The Wall, which never disappoints. If U.D.O. don't get invited back on the next album cycle, UK promoters are doing it wrong. This was a perfect evening of metal.

“ nailing every scream better than he has in years ”

Sister Sin setlist: Food For Worms / Outrage / Chaos Royale / Heading For Hell / 24/7 / Desert Queen / Fight Song / Hearts of Cold

U.D.O. setlist: Speeder / Blitz of Lightning / King of Mean / Decadent / Independence Day / Black Widow / Never Cross My Way / The Bullet And The Bomb / Under Your Skin / Tears of A Clown / Secrets In Paradise / Faceless World / Pain / Untouchable / Let Me Out / Metal Machine / Metal Eater // Break The Rules / Metal Heart / I'm A Rebel / Fast As A Shark / Balls to The Wall

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2015, Gigs, Heavy Metal, ,

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