I went to go see (an evening with) Machine Head live at Manchester Academy on Tuesday the 8th March 2016. This was my second time seeing the band (read about the first here) and luckily I had tonight off work as buying concert tickets is a bit of a gamble as a working adult and not just a student or teenager. Last time I saw the band I was really crushed and felt a little in fear for my and other’s safety at times so I was initially reluctant to head towards the front, added to which, just two days ago I’d been violently vomiting (all over my own legs at one stage in a very sudden onset situation) and the day after that (yesterday) I’d been glued to the toilet with diarrhea. I know heavy metal has certain clichés but no I did not want to rock so hard that I shat my pants in public… after a while umming and ahhing and assessing my intestinal well-being I took a risk, and headed towards the front and miraculously got within two people of the very front, with an utterly unspoiled view all night, and for most of the concert was not crushed, harassed or injured (apart from once when as usual I got kicked in the face by a fat crowd surfer too old and heavy to still be doing it… …SO MANY TIMES in the last few years…why always my face?).
There was no support band just two and a half hours of Machine Head… most welcome! There was a brief guitar solo, and a surprisingly tasteful and rhythmic and non-wanky drum solo (you know, a good one where they play musically and not just lots of fast rolls with no groove or rhythm to it).
The band where enthusiastic, good with the crowd, very intereactive and the crowd were totally into it. (There was even a very loud sing along to Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’ over the PA beforehand, let alone to the most famous Machine Head songs).
The setlist was great. They played 5/8ths of the modern-classic The Blackening, 3 tracks from my favourite album The Locust, the 3 best songs from the new album, as well as old favourites such as: ‘Block,’ ‘Davidian,’ ‘Take My Scars,’ ‘Ten Ton Hammer,’ ‘The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears’ and the rap filled ‘From This Day’ as well as crushing live favourites like ‘Bulldozer’ and ‘Imperium’ which caused quite a stir.
The lighting did that cool thing where songs from The Locust has green lighting, songs from The Burning Red had Red Lighting, then when they played ‘Days Turn Blue To Grey’ there was blue lighting. The stage was covered in big banners and logos and it all looked like a lot of effort had gone into it.
Sound…perfect. Performance… perfect. Atmosphere… perfect. One of the best live show I’ve seen. And the best Machine Head show I’ve been to since I didn’t fear imminent hospitalization at any point.
It was also cool that the setlist was varied up a bit. Last time had ‘Old’ ‘Beneath The Silt,’ ‘In Comes The Flood,’ ‘Now I Lay Thee Down’ ‘Descend The Shades Of Night,’ and ‘Bite The Bullet.’
This time had ‘Clenching The Fists Of Dissent,’ ‘A Farewell To Arms,’ ‘This Is The End,’ ‘Days Turn Blue To Grey,’ ‘Elegy,’ ‘Take My Scars’ and ‘Block’ instead. Pretty cool. I’m slightly jealous that Ireland got ‘Exhale The Vile’ but I’m a minority opinion in that so I don’t mind…I’m very glad it’s a possibility for the band though, such an underrated tune!
Its amazing they played the three longest songs off The Blackening at one gig… those three songs together is an entire 31 minutes. Try fitting that in a festival slot and still play the hits!
Overall, a very brilliant concert from a very brilliant band on a constant ascent. If you haven’t seen ‘em live, do so. The likes of ‘Darkness Within’ and ‘Aesthetics Of Hate’ live cannot be beaten!