California’s Machine Head return to our shores after a long 3-year wait, in support of their latest release Catharsis. On their last visit in 2015, we were gifted ‘An Evening with Machine Head‘ show for the first time, which was 3 hours of pure American metal glory! No support acts, just straight up Machine Head! I am such a big fan that I went to three shows on that tour, including driving from Sydney to Brisbane. They demolished every single night, selling out all 9 shows in Australia and New Zealand. A Spotify AD would inform me that tonight’s show at the Enmore Theatre is the same principle yet again with HOURS of Machine Head coming for us.
The “MACHINE FUCKING HEAD” chants begin well before the road crew is finished fine-tuning the stage, only to pause momentarily to sing along to Diary of a Madman through the speakers, as the lights go down halfway through the track the audience roars in excitement. Normally we love some Ozzy, although the 6-minute track seems to endure for so much longer due to the ascending anticipation.
Rob Flynn waltzes out on stage with his axe around his neck with a cheeky grin as if to say ‘you do not even know what we have in store for you’. Dave McClain kicks off the beat to Imperium, the circle pit is spread out and the fun begins. From the moment Robb bellows the words ‘Hear me now’ the energy skyrockets and sets a precedent for the rest of the night. For a band that has been doing this for 27 years, they have never sounded tighter. New track Volatile nestled in between classic tracks transitions effortlessly and if it weren’t for the huge reaction from the crowd, you would think it was a setlist staple.
The setlist tonight is built to make any headcase ecstatic, with a surprise selection ranging from their first album 1994’s Burn My Eyes to this year’s release. Party track The Blood, The Sweat, the Tears gets a huge response with beers cast high to the ceiling in salute. Jared MacEachern took over bass duties in 2013, and I must say he has been a perfect addition to an already great band. With his long hair flicking around and dramatic stances, he only lifts the visual aspect of the monster that is Machine Head.
The unity felt at a Machine Head show is second to none. As the band departs the stage leaving just Robb with an acoustic guitar and his electric on his back, he speaks of dealing with hard times that plague us all before gracing us with a heartfelt performance Darkness Within. Metalheads stand arm in arm, belting out the words as though they were their own, created an incredibly powerful atmosphere, until the very end singing the outro well past the end of the song. This made Robb stand proud beating his chest in respect to the roaring crowd.
Unsuspecting fans turn in excitement to their fellow pit buddies when they cover Iron Maiden’s Hallowed Be Thy Name. They also tease the first verse of The Trooper before launching into Locust which spreads out the circle pit wide once again. This sure is a fan favourite. Beyond The Pale from their new album is the ultimate headbanging track, with a huge chorus and killer riffs.
Seminal Machine Head tracks Bulldozer and Davidian display the true power of this band in all their glory. Robb commands the biggest circles pit of the night for the powerhouse that is Killers and Kings, from their previous album Bloodstone and Diamonds. This song is non stop headbanging and running in the mammoth circle pit, but when someone falls the metal family picks them right back up. The respect is strong, and it makes for an incredibly enjoyable pit! The guitar solo showcases the many faces of Phil Demmel, contorting his face as the strings are bent locking eyes with die-hard fans in the front row.
Robb thanks the crowd for coming out, noting how excited he is to see females in the crowd of late. Metal shows will always have a healthy dose of angry male fans ready to release the pressures of everyday life in the pit, but they are now met with equally as tough girls throwing down just as hard. Jared and Dave begin to jam along to Would by Alice in Chains to the crowd’s delight, Robb and Phil follow through and sing a few verses with the venue.
It’s time to get down to business with the monster Aesthetics of Hate. Forever dedicated to the memory of our fallen brother Dimebag Darrell although it is now in memoriam to both of the Abbott Brothers with the recent passing of Vinnie Paul. Their 3-hour annihilation of Sydney concludes with Halo which gave everyone on that floor one last chance to throw down with our favourite metal titans Machine fucking Head.
Tonight’s performance was the kind of show you wish you could watch every time they came to your town. Hours upon hours of unwavering dedication from the four men onstage, reciprocating the energy cast forward from the hungry fans. Tired, sore, sweaty and incredibly happy bodies flood out of the venue to catch their breath exclaiming how good tonight has been. Machine Head have been playing music longer than I have been alive and they continue to evolve and strengthen their craft. They will go down as one of the best live acts in heavy metal, and the head cases of Australia will forever welcome back their onslaught. Thank you Machine Head and Metropolis Touring for a truly memorable night.
Review Contributed by Megan Milner