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By James Cerche
26th June 2015

The line of black-shirted metal-heads snakes its way through the alleys surrounding the old Billboards venue on a freezing Monday night that marks the beginning of Machine Head’s first Australian tour in five years. Despite the 7:30pm door time listed we are still fighting the cold after 9, the band themselves finally taking to the stage a good two hours later than expected. This was the first of many rock’n’roll tropes to come up during a lengthy career spanning setlist from the metal veterans.

Machine Head put up a good case as the archetypal heavy metal act. Deafeningly loud with coarse vocals booming over speedy riffs running up and down guitar necks while a bearded drummer hammers the kit within an inch of destruction. 'An Evening With Machine Head' delivered exactly what was promised to fans: no support act and two hours of nonstop metal mayhem from the one of the genre's most enduring and resilient acts. As always, the crowd is a central focus at a metal gig. From having your knuckles tickled by the luscious locks of the guy in front of you to dodging dreadlocks, throwing horns and head banding with the man next to you, the sense of community is always strong.

Frontman Robb Flynn works hard to rile the crowd into frenzy. “I was talking to the bartender earlier... she says you guys would all be gone by 11:30. She thinks you guys don't know how to party on a Monday night.” He challenges and encourages the room regularly, urging the mob to respond while the band slam out one epic tune after another. “You’re at a Machine Head gig, you can be as loud as you want. That’s why you’re here isn't it?! Get it out!” he taunts.

The show Flynn fronts runs like a well oiled machine. It moves with surgical precision with not a note out of place. The emphasis on creating a slick and theatrical experience is clearly one of the group’s foremost objectives. Onstage antics between the soloing guitarists recalls the showy displays of 80s hair metal giants fuelled with the power of early Metallica. The setlist vaults throughout the band’s 21 year catalogue, wisely leaning on 2007’s stunning opus ‘The Blackening’. Tracks like ‘Beautiful Mourning’ and ‘Now I Lay Thee Down’ were especially thrilling to behold in a live setting. A mid set monologue from Flynn thanks us all for choosing to support live musicians over “some DJ hitting a fucking space bar”.

The show Flynn fronts runs like a well oiled machine. It moves with surgical precision with not a note out of place.

The desire for tangibility in music is evidently as strong as ever with almost every date sold out before the band touched down. In Flynn’s own words, “This music is not for everyone,” but it is made special for many on nights like this. The elated faithful filled back out into the chill well after midnight, slightly deafened, likely sore, and hardly seeming to mind that the trains weren’t running.

BAND: Machine Head
MEMBERS: Robb Flynn
Dave McClain
Phil Demmel
Jared Maceachern
FORMED: 1991
FROM: Oakland, California
SOUND: Metal
FACEBOOK: Machine Head
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