First off credit must be given credit for Machine Head’s ambitious ‘An Evening With’ tours that they have been taking around the globe over the past few years. It is a big gamble being the sole band and playing each night for close to three hours but judging by these two sold-out evenings at London’s Roundhouse it seems to be a gamble worth taking. Basically it means no support band but more ‘Head for your money which for die-hard fans can only be a good thing. The band’s refusal to compromise and to continue to produce some of the best heavy-as-hell music over the last three decades leaves them with a wealth of material to choose from for tours of this kind.
The stage set is simple but effective with Dave McClain’s drums up high as the centre piece of a mainly white, blood splattered back drop wraps around the playing area with the band logo above the drums.
As the sound of Ozzy’s Diary Of A Madman fades from the speakers they open with a blistering version of Imperium from 2003’s Through The Ashes Of Empires album. After the luke-warm reception of current release Catharsis it wasn’t clear how many new ones they would play live. Second song in was the superb Volatile which certainly sounded better in a live setting than on said LP. With its belter of a riff driving the song forward I can’t see this one leaving their set for some time. As it turned out five tracks were slotted in throughout the evening amongst the ‘classic’ Head fodder. Next up was the crushing Now We Die, followed quickly by Beautiful Mourning and fan favourite The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears as huge circle pits open up on the floor.
The pacing of the show is superb, partly because the band members have to pace themselves for a three hour marathon. Guitarist Phil Demmell gets to showcase his shredding skills during a short solo before frontman Robb Flynn returns to the stage strumming an acoustic guitar paying tribute to Chris Cornell before unleashing the sublime Darkness Within. A clever mixture of old and new material follows as Robb has the crowd eating out of his hands as he requests middle fingers, fists and horns to be raised the whole time. The temperature reached a peak as Ten Ton Hammer, Is There Anybody Out There?, Locust and Beyond The Pale follow in quick succession before a brief solo from Dave McClain proves why he is one of Metal’s most underrated drummers. Robb Flynn has hinted in interview that he feels uncomfortable singing Davidian in the current political climate with its ‘Let freedom ring with a shot gun blast’ refrain but it is such a stunner of a song that it demands attention tonight as bodies constantly go surfing across the crowd as the biggest pit of the night creates mayhem on the floor. The closing riff of that song tonight is absolutely stunning as they slow it down towards the crash ending.
After a well-earned break the band return for the seldom played Descend The Shades Of Night, two new ones – Exhale The Vile and Triple Beam followed by a pummeling Aesthetics Of Hate which was dedicated to band friend, the late Dimebag as always. Game Over and another from the debut album – Old, made way for show closer Halo which has some of the best duel soloing by any band, simply stunning.
Even after close to three hours fans were requesting other songs but no setlist could fully quench their thirst for the band’s fast, aggressive style of playing as the whole crowd chants ‘Machine f+++++g Head’ until the house light come on.
Now We Die
The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears
Clenching The Fists Of Descent
From This Day
Ten Ton Hammer
Is There Anybody Out There
Beyond The Pale
Killers & Kings
Descend The Shades Of Night
Exhale The Vile
Aesthetics Of Hate
Text written by Phil Ashdown.
Our very own Phil is such a huge fan he even has a custom guitar featuring the groups logo, but that is not all, he also went to the VIP event for this show to meet the band and had his guitar signed.
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