A few months back I found myself wandering Sunset Strip, soaking in the rock history. Every breath of air on that street seems to have a classic riff lingering in it. Okay, it may also be hallucinations from the smog-filled LA air. As I passed the Whiskey, the acetate letters warped me back 20 years, they spelled out the word Prong. I contemplated for a second, the bouncer looked at me and my friend and said: “I won’t charge you guys the cover, just promise to buy drinks.” I walked in to find a sparse collection of people who looked like they still lived in 1995, head banging as much as their bodies allowed.
This marks me because 20 years ago, I remember going to the listening booth in the metal section of HMV and being blown away by 2 albums, Prong’s Cleansing and Machine Head’s Burn My Eyes. I brought both home and went through quite a few AA’s with these in my Walkman. These bands were going to keep thrash going for a long time.
Fast forward to modern day and I can say I was at least half right.
Walking into the Corona Theatre you looked at the stage set up, you knew this was going to rock. Machine Head love setting up their stage as if Julius Caesar himself was about to hold a rally for the glory of Rome.
A trip to the merch booth was rather disappointing. I love merch tables, while I don’t go to HMV much anymore, I do love supporting bands. If you just released a kickass new album, you’re damn sure I’m going to buy a copy from you… unless all you have is a 45$ vinyl. I get the vinyl premium, I’ll pay an extra 5, maybe even 10 for a vinyl copy, but 45$? This is a trend I’m seeing far too much lately. Sorry guys, I’m out.
The crowd is a good mix of young and old(er). When the lights dim, there is no divide. Fists in the air chanting “Machine fucking Head! Machine fucking Head!” The band seemed more than happy to deliver, stepping onstage to a blistering Imperium. They first ventured into new album Bloodstone & Diamonds with opening track Now We Die. The crowd’s reaction was a testament that this band isn’t a relic touring on the strength of past glories. After 2 decades, they’re still making music people love and making new fans.
After a good 45 minutes of mayhem, circles pits and rock horns, the band exited the stage and frontman Rob Flynn returned with an acoustic guitar. This was a rare sight for old school fans, it looked odd to see something so gentle in his hands. After a bit of prose on the meaning of rock and the feeling of gathering for live music, Flynn went into Sail Into the Black, a dark brooding drack from the new disc. The oddness went away as the crowd sang along in approval. This 5 minutes of break in the mosh made some sense of the tour’s title “An Evening with Machine Head”.
The encore pause featured an epic battle between people chanting “Machine fucking Head” and our fair city’s default battle cry of “ole ole ole”. The first camp appeared to win.
The band hit the stage for one last song, The Blackening fan favorite Halo. During the bridge, Flynn paid homage to the crowd by beginning to chant “ole ole ole” himself. They walked off stage as they walked on, to a crowd with fists raised chanting their name.
Into their third decade, not a single sign of slowing down. Machine fucking Head.
Now We Die
Bite the Bullet
From This Day
Ten Ton Hammer
Killers & Kings
Sail Into the Black
Now I Lay Thee Down
Aesthetics of Hate
Review – Richard Brunette
Photos – Steve Gerrard