GIG REVIEW: An Evening With MACHINE HEAD Live At Hammersmith Odeon, UK
It is rare that one gets the opportunity to see a band with such a diverse and beloved back catalogue as Machine Head, particularly in heavy metal, but that was the opportunity I was presented with when the group stopped off at the now Eventim Apollo for a show as part of their “An Evening With Machine Head” tour, in which the band plays for a significantly long period of time with no support acts.
Anticipation for the performance was particularly high from the start, and you could sense the excitement in the cold air outside the iconic venue as the line of fans grew and grew continuously as time went on. Once inside the building, I found an ideal spot about thirteen or fourteen rows back on the left hand side of the crowd as Metallica’s “Sad but True” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary of a Madman” boomed over the PA to get the audience in the appropriate mood. The lights went down followed by a loud cheer from the thousands gathered in the Hammersmith, with the band consequently opening with “Clenching the Fists of Dissent” before pulling no punches with follow-up tracks “Beautiful Morning” and “Now We Die” from their latest studio offering Bloodstone and Diamonds. At least one song from all eight of Machine Head’s records was performed on the night, including all but one of the tracks from the band’s 2007 highlight The Blackening. Particular highlights of the set included “Killers & Kings” (featuring possibly the biggest circle pit I have seen in my time of going to shows), “From this Day”, the chorus of which sounded monumental to the point that it swamped the entire auditorium, and “Davidian” which caused the energy of the audience to skyrocket. It is always refreshing when a band is able to construct their setlist to incorporate every one of their releases, but then again when a band plays for the best part of three hours it’s almost expected that every studio album will be represented in some way.
“Darkness Within”, “Locust”, “Ten Ton Hammer”, “Aesthetics of Hate”, “Blood for Blood”, “Crashing Around You” – the list of quality songs that Machine Head performed on the night was nothing short of staggering and the general vibe was nothing but utmost positivity. The amount of headbangers at certain points of the set was brilliant to see. “Desire to Fire” from The Burning Red got its first live performance since 2002, which was a treat for the die-hards in the audience. Three encores ended with a climactic performance of “Halo” from the aforementioned record The Blackening, which rounded off things nicely.
In conclusion, Machine Head’s performance as part of the “An Evening With Machine Head” tour was an undeniable triumph. The fact that a band that formed 25 years ago can play with such intense ferocity and blast out those songs with the same level of precision, and still draw a crowd of such a vast size with no support acts is incredibly commendable. If you haven’t seen this band live before, I implore you to do so. You will not regret it.