|» Machine Head 2010 02 18||
Due to my late arrival, I only catch the last song by the first band
on tonight's bill, Man Must Die, which makes it difficult to assess their
performance. Next band though, Bleeding Through from Orange County, California,
proves a good start to the evening. Attention is inevitably drawn to keyboardist
Marta Peterson - not only because of her looks but also her red mane being
swung wildly, windmill-style. Overall, the up-and-coming band deliver
their aggressive metalcore/death metal with skill, conviction and force.
Also, although I am not too familiar with the band's material, their short
set reveals they do have some fine melodies and songs in their repertoire.
6 chalices of 10
(sorry, no setlist)
Although Hatebreed does not quite operate in the same field, the pairing with Machine Head for this tour seemed very appealing beforehand. Like their fellow Americans, Hatebreed are known to put on a show which gets the crowd going. Tonight, they sure live up to their reputation. While the five-piece are anything but newcomers, with a large fanbase of their own, many at the Brixton Academy are there mainly for the headliners. But that does not stop Hatebreed from getting a tremendous response, rarely seen with a support act. It's the pedal to the metal straight away with one of their most known songs, I Will Be Heard. It is followed by one crushing tune after another, such as This Is Now, Destroy Everything and To The Threshold.
Apart from witnessing fans going bananas at the front, when looking left and right from my spot further back one can see everyone in the audience nodding their head to every beat. Without doubt, the band's hybrid of viciously aggressive, heavy hardcore and metal is a treat live, with rhythms that are very in-your-face, but at the same time very catchy and groovy. The music is played razor-sharp by the instrumentalists in the band, while singer Jamey Jasta is his usual dynamic self, flinging his limbs about and regularly directing and galvanising the crowd.
Another important ingredient in the Hatebreed experience is the motivating,
call-to-arms lyrics which are sung passionately by Jasta - not to mention
the crowd, who are injected with further adrenaline. Jasta's mention of
a future Hatebreed headline tour in the UK is greeted by a massive cheer.
Certainly, with tonight's brilliant display, Hatebreed demonstrate that
such an event is a must to mark down in the calendar.
8 chalices of 10
(sorry, no setlist)
Since releasing The Blackening in 2007, Machine head have been riding a wave that has not looked even close to subsiding; on the contrary, it has continuously gained new momentum. It has surely been a remarkable period for Robb Flynn and his cohorts. Apart from excellent album sales, The Blackening has, most rightfully, spawned endless praise from not only fans and media but also many of the band's peers. This success has also earned them high-profile, extensive support slots to giants like Metallica and Slipknot, resulting in even more admirers along the road. While these offers were simply too good to turn down, this has, in a sense, brought with it some sacrifices. Fact is, this tour, dubbed The Black Procession, is Machine Head's first proper headline tour in support of The Blackening, something which Flynn reminds us tonight. As such, it is long-awaited, not least from the band themselves, and it is obvious they intend to make it memorable.
The epic Clenching The Fists Of Dissent, by now the standard opener at a MH gig, sets the tone, before the blood really gets pumping with first a breathtaking rendition of the colossal Imperium and then the old gem Take My Scars. Then, in line with the band's wish to mess with the setlist on this tour, we get the first surprise in the set: Bite The Bullet in a massive version. After Ten Ton Hammer it's back to two more tracks from their latest offering. Actually, with today's trend of playing albums in their entirety, I had hoped for a chance to hear the whole of The Blackening, a genuine masterpiece. At the same time, one can appreciate the band's wish to finally present a traditional headline set covering their career up until now.
With all of the band's albums represented in the setlist, there are songs included which rarely have been played live, at least recently. Actually, one number, All Falls Down, is performed live for the first time. Along with another rare one, Exhale The Vile, it works well if not perfect. The return of The Burning Red, meanwhile, is just fantastic; painfully emotive and soul-baring, it serves as a fabulous breather from the metal assault.
The effort onstage is first class as usual: Robb Flynn leads his troops with huge stage presence and sincere devotion. It is also once again evident that Flynn and guitarist Phil Demmel, of course former colleagues in Vio-Lence, enjoy being back together, leaning against each other's backs while taking turns guitar soloing. Basist Adam Duce, adding a fat bottom-end, is more laid-back but clearly enjoying himself, while Dave McClain's drumming is thunderous. However, the overall volume really is on the verge of being too excessive, being VERY loud indeed, affecting the sound somewhat.
The finish of the show is immense: after a ferocious version of Block,
another fan favourite, Halo, with its irresistible twin guitar melodies
and vocal harmonies, works brilliantly as a first encore, before everyone
in the audience goes mental to the classic Davidian. As the music stops,
the band gets a long, elated ovation, with some devotees, shirts off,
even standing on the shoulders of their fellow moshpit participants. It
is a sign of the strong relationship that exists between Machine Head
and their army of fans in the UK. Visibly taken by the euphoric scenes,
Robb Flynn soaks in the moment. Before the encores, the frontman has expressed
his gratitude towards Machine Head's UK fan base in the most ultimate
of ways: by handing out a silver disc award presented to the band - celebrating
UK sales of The Blackening - to a lucky fan in the front row, with the
words "this isn't for me, this is for you". Surely, such an
attitude is guaranteed to generate even more support for the unstoppable
Machine Head crusade.
8,5 chalices of 10
Clenching The Fists Of Dissent