How can a band play without their lead singer and still sound awesome? That’s exactly what the mighty Accept delivered to the city of Toronto on one of the weirdest concerts the city has ever seen.
As I had just returned from Ottawa after seeing Iron Maiden kick some ass again, I had the “mission” to gather all the energy left in me after almost five hours on the road to head to Toronto to see the one and only German Heavy Metal institution ACCEPT deliver the purest form of Heavy Metal you can think of during their Too Mean To Die Tour 2022, and because of that I was extremely late to The Phoenix Concert Theatre and missed ALL opening acts, those being Barrie, Ontario’s Heavy/Thrash Metal band JUGULAR, Toronto, Ontario’s Hard Rock squad RUSTIK, Toronto, Ontario’s Thrash Metal horde KORROSIVE, and South Carolina’s own Death Metal outfit NARCOTIC WASTELAND. I’m really sorry, guys, but my body was asking for some rest, otherwise I would have simply passed out during one of the opening shows. Those bands are amazing, though, and if you enjoy exploring the underground I would highly recommend you go after their music, in special Narcotic Wasteland if you’re a diehard admirer of old school Death Metal.
It was 9:30pm on a nice and not-so-cold night in Toronto when the mighty ACCEPT hit the stage at The Phoenix Concert Theatre, but it wasn’t their regular concert where the lights would go out and the entire band would start kicking ass with the song “Zombie Apocalypse”, from their 2021 opus Too Mean To Die. What we got was all bands members except Mark Tornillo walking to the stage with the lights still on, with Mr. Wolf Hoffmann grabbing the microphone and saying “as you can see we’re one man down”, explaining Mark had some very serious vocal issues, being prohibited to sing just 20 minutes before the concert otherwise his doctor said he could lose his voice forever. Wolf then asked if we were still OK to have a concert even without their lead singer, saying they would share the vocal duties among themselves and also ask for our help to sing along with them. Well, we were all there eager for some Accept, so what happened next was one of the weirdest and most unique live concerts ever.
Imagine five extremely talented and hardworking musicians playing first-class metal music from the bottom of their (metal) hearts, trying to sing their songs as best as they could, with no frontman to lead the crew. Is that a recipe for a massive failure? Maybe for another band, but not for Accept, who were absurdly professional and gave all they had to entertain their Torontonian fans. It was a much shorter setlist than their usual one, with all songs form their latest album being removed from their performance (probably because none of the band members could sing those), but at least we were smashed by an avalanche of classic the likes of Restless and Wild, Fast as a Shark, Metal Heart, Teutonic Terror, and of course, Balls to the Wall. Wolf was fantastic, brilliant, charismatic and perfect from start to finish, with his guitar screaming Heavy Metal and invading our minds and souls majestically. However, the man of the night for me was drummer Christopher Williams, who not only hammered his drums in great fashion the entire night, but he was the one responsible for most of the vocal parts, making his job even harder but at the same time more fun to watch. Mr. Christopher Williams, you’re a true metal beast! Thank you!
When the show was over after around only one hour there was of course a sense of frustration among some of their fans at the venue, but at the same time a lot of respect and admiration for the band for delivering a really good show even after the disastrous news shortly before their time to hit the stage. Of course I would have loved to see Mark Tornillo roaring in our faces on stage, but health always comes before any type of entertainment. I wish Mr. Tornillo a fast recovery, and may he come back screaming in the name of Heavy Metal faster than a shark. And did I mention there were plenty of mosh pits during Accept’s eccentric performance? That only shows how much those guys were professional and incendiary, inspiring some of the fans at the venue to crush their skulls into the pit even without a lead singer on stage asking them to do so. Hopefully the band will make up for such weird night on a not-so-distant future, returning to Toronto with a bigger, faster, heavier and more infernal set, but for now all I can say is that I’m proud to be an Accept fan, a band that will never surrender and always keep on fighting in the name of Heavy Metal.
Restless and Wild
Hung, Drawn and Quartered
Demon’s Night / Starlight / Losers and Winners / Flash Rockin’ Man
Fast as a Shark
Balls to the Wall
Mark Tornillo – lead vocals*
Wolf Hoffmann – guitar
Uwe Lulis – guitar
Philip Shouse – guitar
Martin Motnik – bass
Christopher Williams – drums
*Vocalist Mark Tornillo was absent due to illness. Bassist Martin Motnik and drummer Christopher Williams shared lead vocal duties.