These titans of metal are still putting everyone else to shame.
I must admit, this is the easiest gig I’ve ever had to cover, having been a huge fan of Machine Head since I first saw them thirteen years ago, almost to the day. Back then, I was a scrawny GCSE student, having been given a lift to Newport and back by my awesome father, who dropped my crew off round the corner from the venue so as not to cramp our style. Naturally I thought I was the coolest kid in school, easily capable of moshing with the big boys. Well, I wasn’t. More on that later, however.
Fast forward to tonight, and 1500 rabid metalheads are shaking with anticipation as it approaches half eight, when our demi-godly headliners are due on. The lights go out. Everyone screams at the top of their lungs the obligatory chant of “Machine fuckin’ Head! Machine fuckin’ Head!” The unmistakable drum intro for ‘Imperium’ comes in, and frontman Robb Flynn screams “Hear me now!” Thing is, he’s actually quite difficult to hear. Not because of bad sound levels or anything (which were spot on), but because no PA system can compete with an entire crowd of of burly nutcases who have been waiting ten years for the objects of their adulation to come back to Bristol.
Following this, we’re treated to some choice cuts from the most recent albums, including new single ‘Now We Die’, and the crushing breakdowns of ‘Locust’. Next up however, is the moment where I feel I’ve come full circle. You see, back in Newport in 2001, I was handling the mosh pit pretty well, until the song ‘From This Day’ was played, and everything went so completely apeshit that I damn near broke in half. So here we are in Bristol, and Flynn is introducing the very same song. The pit is equally insane tonight, but this time I pass with flying colours. Epic.
As the set progresses, we’re treated to some old songs (such as ‘Ten Ton Hammer’), some new songs (such as ‘Killers and Kings’, which generates a circle pit spanning almost the entire floor), some surprises (‘Now I Lay Thee Down’), and some wonderful crowd interaction, such as the incredible moment when they play an impromptu cover of the Batman TV series theme, in tribute to a magnificent lunatic throwing himself around the crowd all night long in a Batman mask. Flynn even throws a drink, which Batman duly catches, and receives a hearty round of applause.
Machine fuckin’ Head are most of the way through their two hour beast of a set by now, but the real highlight is yet to come. Of course, it’s ‘Aesthetics of Hate’, which follows a heartfelt tribute to Dimebag Darrell, gone but not forgotten. The band and crowd let out every bit of rage in their hearts in a moment of pure, unbridled catharsis. The penultimate song for the evening is ‘Block’, another surprising inclusion, before Machine Head pay tribute to the ridiculous crowd and finally close with the soaring ‘Halo’. Twenty-two years into their career and thirteen years since my own first gig, these titans of metal are still putting everyone else to shame.
Check out some amateur footage of ‘Aesthetics of Hate’ from the show itself here: