Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

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

Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Date: March 19th, 2021

If anyone told me in March 2020 that Rhapsody of Fire will be my very last show, I would not believe it. Now, almost a year later, when the whole world is turned upside down, going to a concert is in the domain of science fiction. Some bands postponed tours, some cancelled tours, some have chosen live stream shows and some were brave or crazy enough to risk and play against all odds.

A true living legend, Udo Dirkschneider, not that just decided to play in front of real live fans, but he decided Plovdiv, Bulgaria, would be the best choice for something he called Pandemic Survival Show. In front of 2 500 souls, at The Roman theater of Philippopolis, on September 18th, 2020, international crew despite the risks (Corona pandemic, hygiene measures, rules and regulations… that differ in European countries and change every day), signed in the book of metal history as the first band who held the show during the pandemic chaos when the whole world was in lockdown. I believe there was a fear from both sides (band and fans), but also that moment when the band hit the stage was the moment where all the rules of common sense have been broken. 

It is absolutely ungrateful to write a review of a live album, especially a band that I have not had the opportunity to listen live to so far, but this concert is so special, so surreal, so weird, so risky that I can’t resist writing a few words. My imagination is an unexplored field, as well as my curiosity. But still…

Listening to this, 5th live album in U.D.O.’s career, might be anything special. Audio experience as expected is good, but if you add a video experience through official video for “Man and the Machine” and a bunch of amateur videos posted on YT, then, as Udo said:

“We just felt goose bumps. You could tell by the people that they could hardly believe they were finally going to see a concert again. The mood that emanated from each one of them and us gave us all an incredible boost. None of us have ever experienced anything like this before.”

And I absolutely agree. If I felt goose bumps watching poor quality videos with horrible sound blurred vision, I could imagine how I would feel one day, when we get the hell out of this pandemic nightmare and finally back to gigs again. I hope I won’t be that old for a heart attack, but I count at least on those goose bumps.

Set list is a cross-section of Udo’s over half of century long career covering everything from the Accept era over his 24 years long solo career. One is sure: Udo and his band mates made the smart move. Metal machine, hungry and angry, fast as a shark, like a rose in the desert, rose high 2 500 metal hearts in the darkness of Plovdiv. They all sang as one heart, one soul…

It is clear that the Romans, building this amphitheater in the 1st century AD, did not foresee even in their craziest dreams that metal concerts would ever take place during the pandemic of unknown disease on their legacy. Once upon a time, in the 5th century AD, Attila the Hun damaged this theater. If he could have listened to the metal in that place during his time, I’m sure it wouldn’t be even in the back of his mind to demolish this magnificent place. I deeply believe that metal is immortal, and this album will the subject of study and a great testimony to future generations that mankind found the way to resist monotonous life during the Corona era.