Date: March 6th, 2016
Venue: The Olympia, Dublin
Line-up: Machine Head
Machine Head have been frequent visitors to our shores, ensuring a show every couple of years, this time they come under the guise of their “An Evening with Machine Head” tour. The show was touted as one for the fans, with no support slots and a promise of a two and a half hour set each night covering all eras of the bands. This was for the real fans, a show that could not be overlooked.
The lights dimmed down for the epic finale of the Ozzy Osbourne classic “Diary of a Madman”, which had been blaring over the PA, before the members of Machine Head took to the stage. In their opening song alone, “Clenching the Fists of Dissent”, they had the crowd headbanging, moshing and singing along all in equal measure. “Beautiful Mourning” was relentless in its sheer aggression while the more melodic “Now We Die” had the crowd singing back its huge chorus of “Ashes to ashes, the ocean crashes, Louder and louder it cries”.
While many metal bands grew ashamed of periods in their career, choosing to simply ignore tracks from these eras, Machine Head continue to play music from their brief dabble in alternative/nu-metal. A welcome change from the onslaught of their heavier material, tracks like “From This Day”, “Bulldozer” and the rare appearance of “Exhale the Vile”, gave the crowd a break from the pits and instead had them happily singing along instead.
A setlist favourite since its release, “Darkness Within” from 2011’s Unto the Locust is vocalist Robb Flynn’s tribute to music and often uses this time to reminisce on their career and previous tours. Every time I’ve seen Machine Head play in Dublin Robb grinningly tells us the story of the band playing here with Slayer for their first show outside of the US more than 20 years ago. He continues on with his list of ‘firsts’ for the band that have happened here including their first show with guitarist Phil Demmel. All throughout the night Flynn gives his performance his all, owning the crowd and putting all that energy back into his performance.
Continuing on with the instantly recognisable “Davidian” and the chants of “let freedom ring with a shotgun blast”, the latter half of the set pulled out some of their heaviest and hard hitting material. “Now I Lay Thee Down” was my introduction to Machine Head nearly 10 years ago and it’s always great to see it get an airing, its crunchy riffs and blistering dual guitar leads get the crowd fired up. “Imperium” and “Aesthetics of Hate” test the crowd’s endurance, and their necks, some two hours into the set. They threw “Block” into the mix to much excitement before rounding out the night with the anthem “Halo”.
Besides the questionable instrumental solo sections, this was a night packed full of the best that Machine Head have to offer. With a burst of smoke from the stage, and the air filled with confetti and chants of “Machine fuckin’ Head”, the band took their leave with smug grins plastered across their faces.