Machine Head [9/10] are a very special band, their fan base have an unwavering loyalty to them, for that reason the bands booked to support them face an uphill battle as the crowd either don’t show up or don’t want to see them. For that reason, combined with Machine Head going on stage at the early time of 8:30, I skipped seeing the openers. As soon as you walked into the academy, you could tell Machine Head were in town, the dead giveaways were the long hair, tattoos, beards, the smell of beer and cigarettes and the near constant chants of “Machine F***ing Head” at every available opportunity from locations such as the mens toilets, the smoking area or inside the actual academy.
The band publically declared they were not appearing at any festivals next summer in order to play long sets on this tour, and by playing 19 songs, pushing almost 2 and a half hours of material, this was definitely a set for the die hard Machine Head fan. Opening the night with ‘Imperium’, no song has ever sounded that huge or heavy inside the Academy. The venue quickly saw mosh pits that were the size of Olympic swimming pools and became human demolition derbies with bodies flying left, right and center. Quickly following ‘Imperium’ were the incredible ‘Beautiful Morning’ then their new single ‘Now We Die’, demonstrating that tracks from every Machine Head albums would be played, you would get the singles as well as other great tracks. However this failed the band at times, as there were periods that were filled with tracks that only the most die-hard Machine Head fan would know. With this Birmingham date being the end of a 7 week tour, you would have expected there to be signs of fatigue showing however the band sounded as tight as ever, with Rob Flynn’s vocals sounding at their best. What really helped was the band bought their own sound desk, rather than relying on the pretty rubbish standard one in the venue (something that I have been critical of in many past reviews), and this really added to the sound with every song sounding absolutely massive. This set was a definitely marathon for the more casual fan, however Machine Head were conscious to sprinkle their big hitters throughout their set. When ‘Davidian’ hit, the place almost became a riot scene with enmass headbanging and moshing however all this momentum built from it was quickly lost by playing the slow, fairly unknown, ‘Sail Into The Black’. December is a very emotional time for metal fans, it was the month that Dimebag Darrell was killed 10 years ago now, and following the shooting an article called the Aesthetics of Hate was written, this article was so insulting it lead to Machine Head writing a song in response of the same name. When the opening riff of ‘Aesthetics of Hate’ hit, anarchy ensued, this is the anthem for metalheads around the world and, even though The Blackening was released 7 years ago, this track is still a metal masterpiece. It wasn’t all serious business with Machine Head though; Rob Flynn kept teasing the crowd with playing Christmas songs much to a very drunk crowds delight. Bringing the night to a close was ‘Halo’, a track that sounded incredible, the quality of the mix really helped the band. The impressive light show that accompanied the show throughout really hit another level for the ending, all it was missing was some pyro. Overall Machine Head proved that they are the sort of band that only comes around once in a generation, the constant chants of “Machine F***ing Head” throughout the set by the crowd, demonstrates just how partisan the crowd were. While they may not ever be a band to headline stadiums, tonight showed that they are beloved by all in the metal community, and that they are a band who love the metal community too.