U.D.O. – Live In Bulgaria 2020: Pandemic Survival Show

Live In Bulgaria 2020, Pandemic Survival Show Album Cover Art

U.D.O. – Live In Bulgaria 2020: Pandemic Survival Show
AFM Records
Release Date: 19/03/2021
Running Time: 178:15
Review by Simon Black

Although Udo Dirkschneider has arguably been more successful outside of Accept with his U.D.O. project than he was in Accept (or certainly than Accept have been since he left them), I seem to have managed to largely miss out on his contribution to the Metal world (OK, I heard ‘Balls To The Wall’ back in the day, but it never did much for me). Which makes this quite an interesting experience to listen to, as it means I’m coming to this German Heavy Metal stalwart as if for the first time. The show was recorded last year in a socially distanced Roman amphitheatre environment in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and although the crowd size was clearly limited, that’s not slowing their enthusiasm down noticeably.

This is primarily about a visual release, with dual DVD/CD and Blu-Ray/CD formats being available alongside a strictly limited vinyl audio only pressing, which is why for those encountering this on audio streaming only the full two hours and eighteen minutes running time might seem a little daunting. Given that there’s been plenty of live material from the man in recent years it might be argued that this wasn’t necessary, but then the environment is rather visually special if you go for that format and his fans tend to be very loyal and therefore more than happy to shell out for it.

It’s straight ahead traditional Metal and so it should be, with a fair number of Accept tracks alongside the solo material just in case anyone has forgotten where he came from. The track choice is worth dwelling on for a moment as it’s got plenty of less obvious choices in there, which although this gives the release something to distinguish itself from other recent live offerings, does mean it’s not necessarily as engaging for the casual audience member. Not that this is pitched at anything other than the hardened core of his very loyal fan base.

There’s plenty of live energy here and that distinctive gravelly voice is still there but does sometime seem to struggle with the sustain and vibrato, but then he is nearly seventy (which is still probably older than the combined ages of everyone else in the band). Dirkschneider also manages to keep the crowd well engaged, interacting well and encouraging huge amounts of enthusiasm (although to be fair at this point in 2020 I would have started a circle pit at my kids’ school play if they had been allowed to hold it). With twenty-five tracks you also get value for money, but I forgive anyone if they chose to skip the drum or bass solo segments, as quite frankly they’re one part of the 80’s best left in the past.

As for the musical performance, the band are tight enough, and work well together, but are very much in the background of the mix to the vocals. There’s a lot of energy coming off of the band, but unfortunately it’s let down by the fact that his voice although maintaining that distinctive timbre just doesn’t have the strength and power it had in the past. Consequently with much of the music being in a key he has a chance of hitting, that up tempo energy of the older material just doesn’t quite materialise.

01. Tongue Reaper
02. Make The Move
03. Midnight Mover
04. Wrong Side Of Midnight
05. Metal Machine
06. Independence Day
07. Rose In The Desert
08. Vendetta
09. Rising High
10. Prologue: The Great Unknown
11. In The Darkness
12. I Give As Good As I Get
13. Princess Of The Dawn
14. Timebomb
15. Drum Solo
16. Bass Solo
17. Hungry And Angry
18. One Heart One Soul
19. Man And Machine
20. Animal House
21. They Want War
22. Metal Heart
23. Fast As Shark
24. Balls To The Wall
25. Outro (Stillness Of Time)

Udo Dirkschneider – Vocals
Andrey Smirnov – Guitar
Sven Dirkschneider – Drums
Fabian Dee Dammers – Guitar
Tilen Hudrap – Bass


U.D.O. Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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