Plymouth Pavilions 16/02/10

Towards the end of tonight’s show, Machine Head’s frontman and founding member Robb Flynn states that the band are coming to the end of a three-year tour in support of their sixth album ‘The Blackening’. Most would agree that three years of constant touring is impressive by anyone’s standards. Especially for a heavy metal group that has achieved so much in this time. The album has earned Machine Head some of the best reviews of their career, as well as a Grammy award nomination, and Metal Hammer recently named it Album of the Decade.

Their ten-minute track ‘Clenching The Fists Of Dissent’, which opens ‘The Blackening’, begins proceedings tonight and gets the packed venue in the mood to hear the well-received album in all its live glory. However, Flynn goes on to ask the Plymouth crowd whether they have “brushed up” on their older Machine Head CDs, as a few earlier favourites would be making an appearance. Then, much to the audience’s approval, they launch into ‘Bite The Bullet’ from previous album ‘Through The Ashes Of Empires’. The vocalist claims that they only recently started including this one on the setlist, but it proves to be a welcome addition.

One of the most striking and refreshing things about Machine Head’s stage presence is their relaxed demeanour. The band’s hard-rock exterior comes naturally, so they don’t have to waste too much effort trying to force it, unlike many metal groups. For this reason, they can spend more time just enjoying the show and it is obvious that this is the case. This is mostly true of Flynn himself, who spends much of the time in between songs speaking to the crowd. At one point, he encourages the somewhat reserved front rows to be a bit louder. “No one is going to judge you at a Machine Head concert”, he tells them. “The crazier you get, the crazier we get.”

Flynn goes on to thank the band’s UK fans for their passion, echoing comments made by Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed, who supported them earlier in the evening. The impressive moshpits created by the said warm-up act were outdone only by those of tonight’s headliners. Songs such as ‘Aesthetics Of Hate’ and ‘Now I Lay Thee Down’ have much of the huge crowd bouncing and head-banging like lunatics. Later, they perform ‘Block’ from their 1994 debut ‘Burn My Eyes’, which has since become known as one of the great heavy metal albums of the 90s. This particular track provokes the biggest circle pit of the night. One of the calmer sections of the show sees them play the title track from album ‘The Burning Red’ and many of the moshers pause to wave their lighters in the air.

Their most well-known song ‘Davidian’ closes tonight’s performance and, as the lights come on, the fans begin to head for the exits with the music still ringing in their ears. Machine Head may not be one of the biggest metal bands in the world and maybe not even one of the best. However, looking back over the last three years, no one can deny that they are one of the most hard-working. They have proved with ‘The Blackening’ that they continue to create great heavy metal music and, maybe, they will go on to become one of the most longstanding metal acts of all time.