Famed science fiction writer William S Burroughs wrote about rock shows that the essential ingredients were the exchange of energy between the artists and the audience.
While Borroughs may have been writing about a Led Zeppelin show in the 70s the realisation of his analysis was in the feral nature of a triple bill played in a cow shed in Belfast…
Billed with Machine Head as headliners with Killswitch Engage and Chimira as support acts the exigencies of ferry travel to Download forced Machine Head to be the middle act of the trio.
And, of course, for all three acts this was only meant to be a warm-up for Download….
Not that the crowd thought so….when there is crowd surfing and mosh pits in the queue you know it’s going to be something more than a warm-up.
For Chimira it was a daunting enough task…Opening with a truncated set (in line with Download set listing and timing) they ripped through the tunes with a smattering of tunes from new album Resurrection as well as old faves such that ‘Hate Song’
With Blackening receiving rave reviews Machine Head had one real task….live up to the hype.
There has been so much press about Rob Flynn coming back from the dead, re-signing to the label that dumped the band, coming back to rave reviews for the past two releases…could they match up to the recorded promise in the live setting.
Ermm….clear the room there’s pits a plenty.
If there are two phrases to sum up Machine Head they are: literate and intense.
Literate in the lyrical guitar work and thought-provoking lyrics (introducing Descend…as an 8-minute meditation on death); intense as in a stage presence that almost commands attention.
Halo and Imperium stood out for different reasons – Imperium for its viciously delivered lyrical content, Halo for the multi-facetted guitar work.
Machine Head are simply doing what they do best…playing heavy metal in a fine, honest way…as delivered with pummelling power during the awesome diatribe against the fundamentalists who slagged off Dimebagafter he died…Machine Head’s Aesthetics of Hate redressed the balance.
The Dimebag connection continued as Machine Head left for their ferry. With Adam Dutkiewicz recovering from surgery, former Damageplan vocalist Pat Lachman was filling in on guitar and backing vocal duties.
For Killswitch it was a challenge…Machine Head had ripped such a hole in the Balmoral Hall.
They opened well (apart from Howard Jones admonitions for the crowd to respond to having three top line acts…and his clichéd left vs right singalongs) but sagged in the middle. Much as I like Killswitch, at times their material can be one-dimensional.
But having offered that note, they grew as the set progressed, using the larger stage better, with Pat and bassist Mike D’Antonio egged on by the crowd, combined with Jones’ call for crowd surfing…Belfast engaged with Killswitch.
Of course there were things that could have been better, overall, with the gig…not least the patchy sound.
It was a testament to the audience and the artists that a cow shed was transformed into an altar to worship metal…may Chimira, Killswitch and Machine Head return soon!
Hello to the Farm Lodge mosh crew (busted noses and all…) junior metalheadsreunited editor Nadia, Avril, Kyle, Mikey from Residual, the l’il moshing dudes (respect!) and a big fuck off to the too-drunk dicks trying to feel girl’s asses