at Mojoe's, Joliet, IL, USA, April 20, 2013

Ex-Accept vocalist and the main man behind the band U.D.O., Udo Dirkschneider, just came off the month of April touring North America after a twelve-year stateside hiatus. This was an opportune time to break the dry spell since U.D.O.’s newest studio release hits the market in May, and this tour follows the 20th Anniversary re-releases of U.D.O.’s earliest works (many of which were available for purchase at the show).

One of the band’s last stops in America was a small Rock Club named Mojoe’s near Chicago, Illinois. Mojoe’s has become the best place to see great live Metal acts in the Midwest, and this night was no exception!

HesslerThe evening started out with a couple of local acts to fill the “warm-up” role. First up was Hëssler — a group of youngsters playing Traditional Metal and clad in leather, spandex, mascara and fronted by a female Polish bombshell in Lariyah Daniels. They appear to be “rising stars”, emerging from Chicago and they performed well, putting on an enjoyable, energetic set, which was well-received by the scant crowd in attendance.

Next up was another local band Moments Of Sanity. The group consists of four average looking guys with short hair who were dressed casually (compared to Hëssler) in jeans and cotton shirts. Their music seemed to be a mix of Modern and Progressive Metal, and at times seemed to tread into Dream Theater waters. The band performed well and sounded tight, but unfortunately seemed to be underappreciated by the crowd on hand — perhaps just an unlucky musical mix with the more Traditional Metal musings of Hëssler and U.D.O..

Halcyon WayAs if two warm-up acts weren’t enough, how about throwing in the stellar Progressive Metal band from Atlanta, Halcyon Way? Led by main man and guitarist Jon Bodan, the band definitely made an impression on this Chicagoland crowd. The four-piece Nightmare Records recording artist made full use of the limited stage they had and came across punchy on tracks like “Death Of A Dream”. Vocalist Steve Braun had no trouble hitting all the highs and right notes on material culled mostly from their Building The Towers release. Bodan was on the money with his lead work and occasional supporting “growl” vocals. Overall, the group was energetic and entertaining to watch and was as good as the last time Metal Express Radio caught them at ProgPower USA. Hopefully, the band can get another full album under their belts, now that Jon’s health has returned, and they’ll consider revisiting the “Windy City”.

Heikkinen & SmirnovOf course after three support acts, the crowd was more than ready to welcome U.D.O. onto the stage. Opening at around 10:30 pm, the band blasted on stage with their newest guitarists in tow, the Russian Andrey Smirnov and from Finland, Kasperi Heikkinen. The gents had no trouble commanding U.D.O. classics such as “Thunderball”, “They Want War” and the new single, “Metal Machine” from the forthcoming Steelhammer release. Both gents provided plenty of head banging, hair slinging, back-up chant vocal support, and dual guitar formation slinging, as well as both providing entertaining guitar solos with the nod going to Mr. Smirnov.

Make no mistake though, Udo the man certainly had no trouble belting out his unique vocals on both U.D.O. and Accept classics and sounded like the man fans remember from the ’80s. Speaking of Accept, it only took five songs before the crowd heard an Udo-era Accept classic in “Screaming For A Love Bite”. While the crowd appreciated live U.D.O. material, there’s no denying their exuberance upon hearing Udo sing his infamous Accept material like “Head Over Heels”.

SmirnovOf course, at the end of the set when the band made their initial exit everyone’s thoughts and cheers were focused on what the band would play for an encore. Is it only in America where U.D.O. has no choice but to play an encore full of Accept tracks? In this case the crowd didn’t care as they ate up “Metal Heart” and the obligatory crowd-assisted “Balls To The Wall” with help from Halcyon Way’s Bodan, who made a single pass strut across the stage with a huge, penis shaped blow-up. Nothing against current Accept vocalist Mark Turnillo, but having heard both vocalists cover “Balls To The Wall” live … there’s just no denying that Udo’s rendition is the true winner, sounding exactly as one would expect it to. Udo then teased the crowd for their appetite to hear a third encore song, which only led to shouts of requests for “Restless & Wild” and other Accept classics. It seemed like a no-brainer that “Fast As A Shark” would be the obvious choice, and it was, especially when Udo tested the crowd by helping him sing the infamous opening lines “Hi-dee-hi-do-hi-da!”

U.D.O.Overall, U.D.O. performed an excellent show to a rather scant crowd in a country where one can say to most Americans, “I’m going to see U.D.O. perform tonight” and they would probably say “who?” followed by “you know the guy that sang Balls To The Wall” … which always illicits the response, “Oh yeah, I remember that guy”.


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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