Live Music + Gig Reviews

Machine Head + God Forbid + Caliban @ Brixton Academy, London

5 December 2004


Having escaped a queue that engulfs the perimeter of the whole block, I enter a surprisingly full Brixton Academy, to be greeted by five young Germans thrashing about on stage like Jaws now attacks on land.

Much more entertaining than the efforts of the widely unknown Caliban prancing around on stage, however, is the spectacle of a Harry Potter lookalike and his Hogwarts “massive” showing off their latest hardcore moves and getting swatted like flies in the process.

After a surprisingly short change over, Americans God Forbid start to warm up the tepid crowd with a sound that matches the look of their footman – butch. Still a little less than pleased with the recent election results in their homeland, God Forbid play better songs than they do banter between them; but by the second song, where they demand to see mobiles/lighters in the air as an intro, things are getting just a little too disjointed and I am forced to seek liquid refreshment.

We are subjected to some abhorrently loud opera as the headliners finally take to the stage under a sea of blue lights. As it fades, new boy Phil Demmel picks his way boldly into Imperium. The crowd goes ape as soon as they sniff the impending chaos that wafts through the PA. The drums signal the start of a two hour onslaught of sweaty bodies and fists raised in unison, as we are treated to a wall of pyrotechnics that must have singed the ceiling. Rising suitably to the challenge, the entire venue bounces in unison to the Machine’s latest anthem.

Wasting little time with introductions, Robert Flynn cues his band into Old from 1994’s Burn My Eyes debut, thus encouraging all the more puritan fans to also join in the mayhem. Supercharger seems a peculiar follow up, but keeps a minority bouncing along, before a couple more old timers pave the way for Descend The Shades. This is Machine Head’s Stairway To Heaven and they know it. Looking much less “metal” and getting all serious musician on us, with eyes closed and acoustic firmly strummed, the latest epic offering goes down an absolute treat with an adoring crowd.

The majority of the set sees new (Left Unfinished, Days Turn Blue To Gray) and old (Ten Ton Hammer) spliced with deadly precision, but the Bay Area boys manage to take things to a whole new plain when they drop the inevitable, wholly genius masterpiece that is Davidian. With the benefit of a vantage point at the rear, even Harry Potter’s parents are shacking out, heads bobbing in time to the monstrous tour de force which I only hope the cameras filming tonight’s performance can capture the essence of.

Clocking in at well over 75 minutes before the first encore, I am left in awe that these veterans really know how to pull off an amazing show. If that wasn’t enough, a medley of covers that takes in early Sepultura, Metallica‘s Seek And Destroy, a brief glimpse of Maiden‘s The Trooper and most of the mighty Pantera‘s Walk, leaves the crowd breathless, exhausted and scrambling for their beds.

If Machine Head still had something to prove to fans they’d lost in their Supercharger era, they have not only done that but also just re-established themselves as one of the best heavy metal bands on the planet.


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More on Machine Head
Machine Head – The Blackening
Interview: Machine Head
Machine Head + God Forbid + Caliban @ Brixton Academy, London
Machine Head – Through The Ashes Of Empires