Machine Head – SECC, Glasgow – 5/12/11

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.

Great.

Machine Head Setlist S.E.C.C., Glasgow, Scotland 2011, The Eighth Plague Tour

Gareth Fraser
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6 thoughts on “Machine Head – SECC, Glasgow – 5/12/11

  1. Pingback: Defenders of the Faith III @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 06/12/11 « musicscramble

  2. While this was an amazing gig, I disagree strongly with what you say about BMTH – to describe them as “neither heavy nor melodic” is simply absolute nonsense, and you’re hardly in a position to make such a judgement when you left after one song and therefore missed some of their most crushingly heavy songs, complete with brutal riffs and earth-shattering bass drops, in Drop A# and even as low as Drop G, as well as the beautiful ambient interludes between certain songs. You say you’re not ill-informed, but it’s pretty clear you are – fair enough, I understand they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s completely unfair to write them off as “sheer noise” on the basis of hearing one song live. BMTH are a phenomenal band and were simply amazing from start to finish at this gig – as they have been every time I’ve seen them live. <3 I wasn't even keen on them when I first listened to them but I gave them a chance and I'm so glad I did – maybe you should do the same…

    • Howdy Colin. I’m actually a BMTH fan myself and so I was really looking forward to seeing what they had to offer live as I’d never seen them before. Gareth is slightly incorrect in saying I left during the second song as I reckon I saw maybe half the set before deciding the bar was the better place to be. I just didn’t think they cut it live at all.

      You’re quite right in that they can be heavy yet melodic, but I felt none of that translated well to the live show and it came across as a wave of unmitigated noise to me. Thanks for the comments though. It’s good to see music prompting some debate and good comments rather than flaming and “bmth ftw lol pwnd” level responses ^_^

    • Thank you for your comment – there certainly is nothing better than a passion for music to elicit such a strong response!

      As the writer of the review I have to say that I stand by my comment. I have more than a passing interest on BMTH, have listened to their albums many times and this show was not the first time I’ve seen them.

      In terms of being ill-informed – I can assure you I am not with over 900 shows under my belt. This isnt said as arrogance or in any form of showing off, just that you know, I have got other gigs to compare it to. As a live show, there was nothing exemplary or worthy in it.

      Indeed I did leave after one song, but since you were there will know that bar is just out of line of sight, and hardly out of hearing distance from the stage. In fact the bar is closer than the back of the standing arena. I could clearly(!?) hear every grunt, rumble and squeal of BMTH set. Sure I missed the visuals, but at no point in my review did I complain or mention those – I’m hardly placed to do so.

      I’m glad you enjoyed their set; I did not. As a reviewer I have to tell it like it was for me, no matter how painful that may be – read Paul’s heartache at Mötley Crüe later that same week as a case in point.

      I appreciate you taking the time to read the review and even more so in commenting. Sure, it’s emotive and even though our opinions may differ nobody is wrong and a passionate love of music should always spur such discussion.

  3. Thanks for the replies guys. It’s good to get discussions going with articulate music fans who don’t feel the need to resort to petty name-calling or whatnot.

    In this case, BMTH are my favourite band, so they were always going to be the highlight of this gig for me. I think the fact that they had such a hostile reception from parts of the crowd brought those of us who were there to see them more closely together to show our support for them. Personally, I’ve never come across a band that captures so much emotion and feeling in their music which makes for such a powerful effect as BMTH does in certain songs, and every time I’ve seen them, these songs come across every bit as powerful live as they do on record. It’s this that makes them the best live band I’ve ever seen, and will probably ever see. Again, I understand if you’re not so into them watching their live show wouldn’t have the same effect – personally, though, they’ve given me some of the best experiences of my life from their gigs.

    As for the other bands, I thought Darkest Hour and DevilDriver were really good, and Machine Head were incredible – this was a surprise for me, as I didn’t know any of their songs and I wasn’t even sure beforehand if I would stay to see them, but they were genuinely incredible and really topped off a fantastic gig…epic times! ^_^

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