Machine Head at The Academy, Dublin – Review
Without a support act to open for them, tonight’s action and energy lies on their shoulders. For many acts out there, that may seem like a daunting task. For a band like Machine Head, who have been performing for the past 20 years or so, this is almost second nature to them, and their veteran-like nature certainly shines through tonight with an impressive 19 song set list and quite an outstanding performance style. This is a band that have gone from supporting bands like Slayer back in 1994 to selling out headlining shows worldwide, with their show here being no exception. The word veteran becomes an understatement, with no words being able to describe the level of professionalism.
With tonight’s blue lights blinding everyone in the front row, they kick off their set with ‘Imperium’, and all hell breaks loose, with the crowd as wild as the wind. Bodies fly left, right and centre. With the constant ‘Machine F*****g Head’ chant between tracks, this is a crowd who mean business. Not only do the crowd love it, frontman Robb Flynn laps it up. Robb Flynn is a well-known character in the metal scene. Whether you know him for being in Machine Head or for his opinionated blog posts, he certainly is one of the head honchos of this genre. Tonight’s performance proved him to be a lot more than these things: he represents the real passion behind the genre, and means every word he sings and says, with this passion shining through strongly in ‘Darkness Within’. As David Draiman (frontman of Disturbed/Device) once said: “Music may be the most effective and powerful means of expression, catharsis, reflection and empowerment afforded to the human race”, and it’s clear that their music is all of these things and more, adding to their veteran-like status and the connection with their music that everyone can make. You may disagree with his opinions, but one opinion he has that you can’t deny is true is that one of the most important things to a band like Machine Head is their diehard fans (and there are a ridiculous amount of them) making touring and recording possible. It’s clear Machine Head appreciate every single one of their fans, and this is shown through the interaction between them and the audience. This interaction included Robb Flynn throwing drinks into the crowd in the hopes that someone would catch them (they almost always didn’t). They know exactly what it’s like to be a fan watching their favourite band live, and make it as interactive and enjoyable as possible.
There was a song for everyone in the crowd, with the set list spanning their entire career, with particular highlights for me being ‘Beautiful Mourning’, ‘Now We Die’, ‘Locust’, ‘Ten Ton Hammer’, ‘Davidian’ (unsurprisingly one of the loudest sing-a-longs of the entire night) and ‘Aesthetics of Hate’. What is a metal show without a sing-a-long of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’? A pretty normal one, actually.. But this is no normal metal show, this is a Machine Head show, and they’ll do almost anything to have a good time. They close their set with ‘Old’ and return to the stage for a very emotional and rampaging encore of ‘Halo’. I’d like to give a huge shout out to their new bass man Jared MacEachern. He seemed comfortable with the audience and had a very relaxed stage presence (when he wasn’t almost snapping his neck head-banging). It’s a comfort that would make you think he had been in the band for 20 years, and I look forward to seeing him play again in the future.
You were in some serious luck and in for an amazing time if you went to Fibbers after the show, as Machine Head played a surprise covers set after the show, covering classics from legends like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Pantera. Machine Head are a band who gives more than just a concert for their fans; they take it a step further and make it a full blown, unique experience. They were raw and fierce, yet emotive and flawless. I was left speechless, and await their return to the Emerald Isle. Machine F*****g Head indeed.
Review by Shauna Collins