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Machine Head - November 18, 2007 - Ambassador Theatre - Dublin, Ireland

By: Ken McGrath

There’s someone called Gary on the stage. He’s got a bra on his head and is chugging a drink with Rob Flynn. Alcohol downed Gary takes, with Flynn’s encouragement, takes a jump of the stage into the waiting arms of the first few rows. “Where did you learn to stage dive? Offspring videos?” Flynn snipes, to the delight of the rammed Ambassador crowd.

The last of two warm-up shows before they hit the road properly for The Black Crusade Tour with Trivium, Arch Enemy and Shadows Fall it’s a chance to get back into the routine of playing live, without too much pressure. Loved in Ireland the show is completely sold out, it’s doubtful anyone here really misses any of the big names they’re going to be playing with. Sure the pit is as violent as you’d expect and Machine Head themselves sound absolutely perfect but there’s a relaxed air in the place, as if, for now the weight of having to defend their position at the top of the metal pile is off their shoulders. Rob Flynn is in a chatty mood, joking around, throwing drinks to the crowd, which he alternates between praising and swearing profusely at, and encouraging more circle pits to open up than legs in a whore house.

Sticking to the first two and last two albums, completely skipping over The Burning Red and (thankfully) Supercharger releases, the set is rammed with killer material. “Imperium” and “Ten Ton Hammer” are thrown to the wolves early on, while the bulk of the show is lifted from The Blackening, one of this year’s undisputed top albums. ‘Halo’ is easily one of the best metal songs going, a soon to be considered classic and in the live setting it simply shreds. Promising that they’re not playing it anywhere else on the upcoming tour “A Farewell To Arms” builds up majestically, finally erupting into levelling distortion and riff smashing riff. How Dave McClain’s kit holds itself together is anyone’s guess he pounds it so relentlessly. Phil Demmell takes centre stage for the occasional solo, but it’s when himself and Rob Flynn get down to some serious guitar sparring and back to back rocking action that things almost take off. Adam Duce haunts the far right of the stage, finally back to full strength after an accident put him off the road earlier in the year.

High energy all the way, apart from the acoustic breaks in “Days Turn Blue To Grey”, the highlight (although everyone will have their own) comes when the jagged, barbed opening riff to “Take My Scars” splits open into a massive chant along chorus and foot stomping breakdown. “Davidian” starts of surprisingly sloppily and slightly out of time, before they pull it together coming out of the intro and you can’t help but feel a slight pang of jealousy at the thought of them playing this every single night and provoking such a frenzied reaction.

So with two days to go before they head off on their “Black Crusade,” Machine Head prove that anyone trying to climb up the side of their throne is going to have a hard time of it. It’s a good thing all gigs aren’t like this one, ‘cause it makes them stand out all the more when they come around.


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