I attended my final gig of 2014 last night as Machine Head played Birmingham’s o2 Academy. They’re a band I’ve seen once before, while very tipsy at Download Festival. They’re also a band I never really “got” until the first moment I saw Rob Flynn walk on stage and my stomach dropped due to the stern look on his face. He’s definitely a man to make you quake in your boots.
I’m familiar with some of their bigger hits, but have really invested my listening time in their latest album Bloodstone and Diamonds (which sounds absolutely ridiculous on a 180 gram vinyl). With a two and a half hour set though, Machine Head delivered a mix of new and old music. One track was from fifteen years ago. Fifteen! I was seven when it was released. Seven and very much in love with Nick from Backstreet Boys and pretending to be Posh from the Spice Girls. Whatever the track was sounded absolutely timeless, as if it had been released yesterday.
The gig was heavy, the loudest I’ve been to (with shit hot sound quality in the academy) and engaging. Despite the intimidating look, Rob Flynn is a great frontman with a really good sense of humour. From singing a bit of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, chucking beers at the audience and thanking us all humbly, it was a wonderful thing to feel connected to the band – even stood right at the back.
My favourite thing about seeing rock and metal live shows in Birmingham is that the visiting bands always acknowledge how great this city is. Machine Head raised their glasses to Black Sabbath, Judas Priest – the fact that this city is the home of metal and something to be proud of. It reminds me why I’ll always feel my home city deep in bones, wherever I am.
I had a wicked night with friends watching an incredible set of live music, one that has set my appreciation for Machine Head in stone. I get them now. I got it for sure the instant they started their set, stood in front of a magnificent backdrop. Most of all, I certainly felt the hair rise up on my neck when Rob Flynn pointed out that live shows are for the ones who were raised with and turn to music, whatever the occasion.