These are certainly exciting times for Machine Head. They managed to follow up The Blackening with an equally stunning record, which penetrated many lists as a highlight of heavy metal in 2011 including our very own Thrash Hits Top 20. Tonight they play Wembley Arena, not as second fiddle to the likes of Metallica or Slipknot, but as headliners in their own right. Hopefully…
Six things we found out when we went to see Machine Head at Wembley:
1) Let’s be honest here – most Devildriver fans would have come anyway to see Machine Head, so in that respect they were a good booking. The more bang for buck, the more bums on seats, so to speak, but it’s hard to feel enthusiastic about a band that have very little substance beyond the hype and epitomise how generic modern metal can be. This isn’t helped by Dez Fafara’s tendency to be very static on stage, and tonight’s performance does little more than just satisfy the die-hards on the front row. And what of Darkest Hour…
2) This tour has essentially ruined Machine Head’s chances of headlining a festival and moving up into regular arena tours. No one has ever doubted their ability to headline Brixton Academy or support Metallica at the O2 Arena, but if they want to prove they are ready to become a major league metal band like Slipknot did a few years ago, they need to deliver. With Download Festival booker Andy Copping watching intently from the side of stage and a Facebook campaign, the pressure sure is on for Machine Fuckin’ Head. Sadly, it’s fucking empty in here and there are rumours that this tour has lost promoters a total of £250,000. OUCH.
3) Machine Head are going to be stuck playing to the same 5,000 fans for the rest of their career. To sell 12,000 tickets, the promoters and booking agents really should’ve focused more on the line-up and value for money. Announcing Bring Me The Horizon right from the start was seen as a bold move in the UK but Machine Head tour very regularly with BMTH peers, Suicide Silence across the USA. BMTH don’t sell that many fewer tickets than Machine Head in the UK so would’ve commanded a decent fee in exchange for bringing fans. Sadly, young BMTH fans will be less likely to be able to afford a £30 ticket to see their favourite band playing with Machine Head – a band that hasn’t really translated to a younger audience yet, and won’t ever whilst charging those kinds of prices.
4) Bring Me The Horizon always knew this was going to be a tough tour. It was inevitable they would be getting bottled heavily (even by their standards), though these dates also presented them with a great opportunity – the chance to win over some of their biggest doubters and Machine Head fans are probably only second to Slayer fans in their scepticism toward new music. Luckily, Oliver Sykes is a fucking hero, as exemplified by this incredible quote.
“This song’s called, ‘I’m On Tour With Your Favourite Band So Suck My Fucking Dick.'”
Cue: applause. More, please. More… Anyway, judging by the size of the circle pit at the end of the set, BMTH won over more than their fair share of new fans and toured in luxury. At least it was a success for them.
5) It was all going so well, until at the very end of the set, images of fans looking emotional holding messages like, “Machine Head saved my life” are projected behind the band. Whilst we would never doubt the impact their music has had on people, it’s a bit much for a heavy metal concert and closer to a Michael Jackson level of self-indulgency. Shamone.
6) With seven albums under their belt, Machine Head can play a two-hour set that is absolutely rammed to the rafters with heavy metal anthems. Who can deny the power of ‘Davidian’, after all? Anyone with an average interest in this genre would be familiar with at least half of tonight’s setlist – and that says a lot about how important Machine Head are today.