Tonight is the second of Machine Head‘s sold out back to back “Evening With” nights at the 1,700 capacity Roundhouse in London, a pair of dates slap-bang in the middle of the Oakland California Metaller’s eight date UK run. From the opening bars of “Imperium” to the ticker-tape fall of “Halo” the show is a celebration of all things Machine Head.
It’s a long wait from doors at 18:30 to the start of Machine Head’s set, during which we are exposed to an eclectic mix of Metal in varying forms (including Muse) as well as being over indulged by the smoke machine. Throughout tonight’s set, the band switch between core colours of lighting to introduce songs “Unto The Locust” material being green, “From The Ashes of Empires” blue and you’ve guessed it “The Burning Red” being Red. Being “An Evening With” set, to state that obvious, it’s Machine Head for the better part of 3 hours with no support bands. It’s something the band have being doing for a while, partly to allow themselves to play deeper cuts from their back catalogue and partly a response to criticism of support acts – they took a lot of flack for bringing out a “Sucide Season” era Bring Me The Horizon on “The Blackening” tour, despite their then popularity.
Tonight is solely intended for the Machine Head fan. It’s all about the Oakland California heroes and they deliver from first to last. Every album is covered, no stone left unturned and it never fails to be captivating. Every time you think the band could drop the ball, they up the pace. The set is deliberately designed to give the audience breathing space with the likes of the huge sing-a-long “Descend The Shades of Night” and even “Bastards” given their moment in the limelight, while heavier tracks like “Blood for Blood” and “Asthetics of Hate” deliver for circle pit fans. Regular drops in the lights to plunge the auditorium into darkness before bathing it in light also help to build the atmosphere and with the band in fine form, we could have happily watched them for another 3 hours.
Highlights? Well, aside from the obvious, guitarist Phil Demmel gets a solo in the spotlight, as does drummer Dave McClain. The surprises in the set include “From This Day” and “Game Over” while a welcome inclusion of Iron Maiden cover “Hallowed Be Thy Name” brings the house down. If someone asked us what Metal was, we’d point to Machine Head’s “Davidian” which goes down a storm tonight and “Burn My Eyes” has to rank with the likes of Metallica‘s “Master Of Puppets” as one of the all time greats. The truth is, when you deliver such a brilliant debut, you’re always going to struggle to repeat the magic and as a result, a lot of people talk nonsense about Machine Head. If you wanted to argue about a weakest link in their back catalogue, it could easily be the heavily criticized “Supercharger”. But tonight “Bulldozer” and “Crashing Around You” both go down a storm. New album “Catharsis” has also seen its fair share of negativity but still delivers a number of powerful cuts including the title track, “Volatile” and “Triple Beam” that sit neatly alongside an obviously carefully chosen set. Tonight is a master class from both veterans and heroes on how Metal should be done. [10/10]