The cur­rent line-up of MA­CHINE HEAD play their fi­nal show. We shed tears and raise beers.

THE CAT­A­LYST, SANTA CRUZ The Phil Demmel and Dave McClain era ends with an emo­tional fi­nal feast

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - JOE DALY

this past septem­ber closed with a stun­ning an­nounce­ment: long­time Ma­chine Head gui­tarist Phil Demmel and drum­mer Dave McClain would be leav­ing the band at the end of the 2018 au­tumn tour. Re­vealed by Robb Flynn via Face­book Live, the singer was quick to clar­ify that the an­nounce­ment spelled the end of this par­tic­u­lar line-up of the band, but that Ma­chine Head were a long way from call­ing it quits. In the wake of the news, the band re­leased a state­ment that read, “Ma­chine Head wish to thank Phil and Dave for their sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the band, both mu­si­cally and lyri­cally, as well for the spirit, gen­uine pas­sion they in­fused into the mu­sic, and leg­endary live per­for­mances brought along the way.” Tonight we ar­rive at The Cat­a­lyst, in the groovy beach­side haven of Santa Cruz, to watch the cel­e­brated line-up per­form to­gether one fi­nal time.

Keep­ing pace with the rest of the tour, tonight’s show is a sold-out af­fair, with no open­ing act. It’s been an in­ter­est­ing – and re­sound­ingly suc­cess­ful – ap­proach. Prac­ti­cally, it al­lows the band to play for up­wards of three hours a night, in­clud­ing am­ple deep cuts and a few cov­ers. Over the PA sys­tem, Ozzy Os­bourne’s Di­ary Of A Mad­man ends sharply as Ma­chine Head en­ter to thun­der­ing chants of “Ma­chine Fuck­ing Head!” They rip into Im­perium and just like that, the fi­nal show of the Demmel/McClain era is un­der­way. With un­re­lent­ing in­ten­sity, the band storm through Volatile, Now We Die and Beau­ti­ful Mourn­ing. Though we’re all acutely aware of the sig­nif­i­cance of this par­tic­u­lar show, there’s no sense of melan­choly – not yet, any­way.

Un­der Robb’s growl­ing com­mands, the floor erupts into a swarm­ing pit of flail­ing limbs and throaty roars. Af­ter Clench­ing The Fists Of Dis­sent,

Phil takes a lu­mi­nous solo that pays trib­ute to his gui­tar idol Randy Rhoads with a faith­ful nod to Ozzy’s Rev­e­la­tion (Mother Earth). “Friends and fam­ily, it’s been a hell of a ride. Thank you,” he says as chants of “Phil!” erupt. Con­spiCu­ously posted through­out the venue are large signs read­ing, “Ma­chine Head has re­quested a strict pol­icy of no smok­ing of any kind at any time dur­ing tonight’s con­cert. Thank you for honor­ing the artist’s re­quest. Any vi­o­la­tions will re­sult in you be­ing asked to leave!!! Thank you for your co­op­er­a­tion!!” Un­sur­pris­ingly, the fans dis­re­gard these signs with glee­ful dis­dain, caus­ing Robb to note with a chuckle, “You’ll get a con­tact high up here!” Through­out the show, video clips be­tween songs show old footage and in­ter­views with the band. Dur­ing one clip, Robb ex­plains, “I don’t con­sider us nec­es­sar­ily a thrash band, but we’ve kept that thrash spirit alive in our mu­sic. Be­cause that’s how fuck­ing pow­er­ful it was.” The com­ment per­fectly en­cap­su­lates the depth of Ma­chine Head’s cat­a­logue – a blis­ter­ing fu­sion of classic metal, Bay Area thrash and mod­ern ex­treme metal that sounds as po­tent and rev­e­la­tory tonight as it ever has. They cover

Iron Maiden’s Hal­lowed Be Thy Name, fol­lowed by Lo­cust, Beyond The Pale and a dizzy­ing drum solo from Dave that pushes the crowd to ri­otous ex­tremes. When Robb asks the au­di­ence dur­ing Killers & Kings to open the big­gest cir­clepit he’s ever seen, they du­ti­fully com­ply, set­ting in mo­tion the wild, fi­nal throes of the set.

Phil and Robb fire off a siege of neck-snap­ping riffage that ig­nites eu­phoric ren­di­tions of Da­vid­ian, De­scend The Shades Of Night and a rous­ing Ex­hale The Vile. An eclec­tic ar­ray of cov­ers fol­lows, in­clud­ing Me­tal­lica’s Wel­come Home (Sanitarium), Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead Or Alive, and Kiss’s Cold Gin, which prompts Robb to dryly note, “I fuck­ing hate Kiss. God, I hate Kiss! But I’m gonna sing this song…”

Al­though we’ve now hit the three­hour mark, it feels like both band and au­di­ence could go for an­other three. Yet, as that pithy say­ing about all good things goes, the end draws in­evitably nigh on the heels of ut­terly breath­less per­for­mances of Aes­thet­ics Of Hate (ded­i­cated to Dime­bag Dar­rell), Game Over and Old. Af­ter a shout out to his kids in the bal­cony (“This is the long­est my kids have ever stayed at a Ma­chine Head show,” he says), Robb says what’s been on ev­ery­body’s mind all night – that tonight marks a mon­u­men­tal oc­ca­sion, be­cause af­ter 23 years on drums and 15 years on gui­tar, Dave and Phil are leav­ing Ma­chine Head. The crowd chants “Phil and Dave!” un­til, with one fi­nal nod to each other, the four men pile full-speed into Halo.

It is tran­scen­dent from start to fin­ish, re­duc­ing both band and house to a heav­ing mass of sweat, grins and sore mus­cles. ‘Bit­ter­sweet’ doesn’t come close to de­scrib­ing the mo­ment. As the guys, arms draped around each other, take one last bow to­gether, it feels like an un­qual­i­fied cel­e­bra­tion of time well-spent, of an en­dur­ing broth­er­hood forged and of lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties ahead. Thank you, guys. The plea­sure has been en­tirely ours.

the Gen­eral’s army is halved af­ter this evening

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.