The Machine Head Marathon
This is an odd concert review as it is a review of the same band at three gigs in the same week. It is also a long time coming as it has been a hectic few months.
- Date(s) – 14th, 15th & 19th May 2018
- Venues – CARDIFF UNIVERSITY GREAT HALL / O2 BRISTOL ACADEMY / THE ROUNDHOUSE
- Artist(s) – MACHINE HEAD
‘Machine Head’ brought their ‘Catharsis’ tour to the UK for a short run of shows. Here at Loud Adventures we thought it would be a fun idea to follow them slightly across the UK, we went to Cardiff, Bristol and London.
14th May – Cardiff
This show was set to be played in Y-Plas, the newly renovated venue that stands at around 1000 people. The show was moved to the Great Hall which has a slightly larger capacity of 1500. The reason for this move was due to the demand of tickets, but honestly, the show was not anywhere near to selling out the Universities venue. Getting to the show early was a slight waste of time as there was no supports. This was another ‘Evening with’ ‘Machine Head’ tour. That meant at least two and a half hours of back to back metal with no brakes applied. The doors opened at 6:30pm but the band did not appear till about 8pm. This was a little frustrating to say the least as we were stood around in a dimly lit room waiting for Robb and Co.
Each set across the week started the same way, ‘Diary of a Madman’ by ‘Ozzy’ was played via playback and then the band came on to play ‘Imperium’. Cardiff’s set saw a 26 song onslaught of metal. The crowd was incredibly enthusiastic and at points a little to dangerous for my liking. Playing ‘Behind a Mask’, ‘Beyond the Pale’, ‘Catharsis’, ‘Kaleidoscope’, ‘Triple Beam’ and ‘Volatile’ all from the new album, left 20 songs to fill the rest of the set with. All in all this was an eye opening set from the band. Having previously seen the band on their last ‘An Evening With…’ a few years ago in the Hammersmith Apollo, the rest of the week began to look like a challenge. Three nights of a possible 3 hours moshing.
15th May – Bristol
Learning from the night before, we turned up slightly later to the o2 Academy. The crowd was packing in nice and tight and there were some familiar faces in the crowd from the night before. Our idea did not seem so crazy after all. Being as we both hold full time jobs, we decided to book off the 16th as a recovery day so the we could throw ourselves into the Bristol gig at full power. Starting the same way and with the majority of the same crowd pleasing songs, they played ‘Bastards’ instead of ‘Beyond the Pale’ off ‘Catharsis’ which meant it was a different set. This felt like it was a great decision to follow the band. The crowd was better this time around. Less punchy. It looked like no one was there for a scrap and they were there for the hard hitting Oakland metal giants. The reason why I mention the crowd being rough is because at their Southampton gig a member of the crowd was severely injured, which is just not cool for a metal show. In one of Robb’s speeches he said “Keep your WWE shit at home, it’s not welcome here”. Everyone played nice and again endured a 2.5hr monster set.
19th May – London
The final date of our trip took us to the legendary Roundhouse in Camden. After a day of travelling around the city we descended upon our Airbnb, popped in our contact lenses and went to the pub to prepare for the biggest one of the week yet. This was the second London date (the first being the 18th May) so the stage was all set and ready to rock. This was expected to the be the longest and toughest gig of the week. As it was the last London date of the tour, the band usually pull something out of the bag. This came in the form of an ‘Iron Maiden’ cover, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’. This was a track not played the night previous. As the night went on, the crowd were energetic throughout but after hearing Phil Demmel’s guitar solo for the third time I was a little impatient for the next track. Likewise with the Dave McClain 5 minute drum solo. I found myself looking around the venue as I had never been there before, this attracted some odd looks from the crowd. Dropping to only 4 songs from ‘Catharsis’ tonight this really opened up the set for some gems. Such as ‘Descend the Shades of Night’ in the encore. Not played at either O2 or the Great Hall shows. It had, however, been played elsewhere in the UK.
After a final rendition of ‘Halo’ the crowd roared with applause and chants of “MACHINE FUCKIN’ HEAD”. It was at this point that my buddy and I looked at each other and breathed a sigh of relief that we had made it without any major injuries. This was the longest ‘Machine Head’ show to date. A whopping three and a bit hours! I see this as top value for money. With the week long experience over, we headed to Spoons for a well deserved beer.
If a band comes around who does not tour that often and you can afford to follow them around a little, I highly recommend it. It can be expensive but it is one hell of an experience. You may get bored of the same set but if it is a band who likes to play differently each night, you are in luck. It also shows you what crowds are like in different cities across the UK. London had fans from across the world whereas Bristol and Cardiff had mainly local fans. Being as ‘Machine Head’ seem to tour the UK every 2/3 years on their own, you need to be prepared for a long night. Being as the tickets where around £30, £10 an hour was not a bad price for what I got to see and hear. Bring on the next time…