The mammoth Machine Head Eighth Plague tour rolled into Glasgow tonight with a stellar four band line-up. Well almost stellar.
Darkest Hour arrived on stage at 1830 whilst the venue hardly had any visitors. This did nothing to deter them and especially lead singer John Henry jumping and running his way around the stage as if playing a stadium! They had a short set, but also ironically had the best sound setup in the venue of all bands this night. Darkest Hour were enjoyable and very competent but their music was not set the world alight stuff, which after seven albums is a real shame.
DevilDriver were up next – with Dez Fafara resplendent in a kilt – they were strong though suffered from muddy sound. This made little sense given how clear the audio was for Darkest Hour. DevilDriver have much material to choose from and with only 30 minutes ripped through a highlights as best they could. By the end it was clear they wanted to keep playing, and the crowd seemed as if they didn’t want them to leave. To be fair to the crowd that may well have been because they were enjoying them, but it may however have been as Bring Me The Horizon were up next!
Even as the band’s album cover backdrop was raised at the back of the stage the boos rising from the crowd were ominous! The band exploded on stage to what can only be described as sheer noise. Yes, I’m maybe too old, but also not ill-informed. I know good music, some would argue I know bad, I have varied tastes, and do like some of the heaviest bands around. BMTH were neither heavy, melodic, tuneful, rock, goth, emo, or anything in between. This reviewer left after the first song. Musicscramble reviewer, Paul lasted one more song and then left. Ironically we were not alone – in the bar area outside the main arena it felt as if the whole arena had left too!! I have no idea how many people watched them, but the incessant noise of their set made me want to rename them ‘Bring Me The Earplugs’! Paul opted for ‘Bring Me The Shotgun’. An impartial observer likened them to Ear Cancer…
After that atrocity Machine Head need only turn up to be crowned kings of this particular plague. And arriving on stage 10 minutes earlier than their 9:30 slot proceeded to show everyone before them how it should be done!!
With a set clocking in at just short of two hours – and taking the SECC to one of its latest gigs I’ve witnessed (Guns N Roses excepting!) – Machine Head said goodnight at 11:15. During that time there was a healthy focus on new album Unto The Locust. A strong showing from The Blackening and fond memories of older albums.
The light show was immensely powerful to accompany the immensely powerful sound and exemplary playing from Machine Head. Robb Flynn spent a long time talking to the crowd at one point thanking the fans – the band seemed overwhelmed by the response during the gig – and name checking their peers Trivium and In Flames who were in the crowd. Both bands were playing Glasgow the following night.
Machine Head have a phenomenal arsenal of music at their disposal, and tonight was a lesson for others in how to put on a heavy, ear-bleeding, face-melting show. If only one criticism, and I accept it is a minor one – with a set time just shy of two hours by the time ‘Bulldozer’ came around the atmosphere seemed to flatten a little and this lasted around 15 minutes. Soon after the encore and brilliant double-whammy ending of ‘Halo’ and ‘Davidian’ put an end to any lull.
Perhaps it is simply their type of music, as there is just no let up – a constant barrage which eventually tires. A break in momentum or style would have been welcome. But simply shortening the set by two tracks – remember rarely is a track much shy of 7 minutes – would have had the same effect.
All in all, phenomenal value for money at sub-£30, and three out of four brilliant bands playing real heavy music on a touring bill you’d be happy to see on a festival line-up.