An Evening With Machine Head: Metal’s Finest Roar Into Reims


“Are you ready?” screams Machine Head’s vocalist Robb Flynn one hour into the show, you could be forgiven that he has no mercy on a crowd who haven’t stopped screaming every word of every song together with creating a seemingly non-stop pit. For the first time in the Oakland band’s history they came to Reims as part of their tour of France. Bands of this stature rarely come to this city just forty five minutes outside of Paris, and for the whole night, which was a sell-out, you could see the appreciation the fans had for Machine Head stopping by.


Photo Credit: Jern Watson

Machine Head’s latest European tour has been all about the music and the fans. Billed as ‘An Evening with Machine Head’, the band decided to go on the road with no support which means shows that can last nearly 3 hours. This one comes just short of two and a half as the gig kicks off with the intro to Ozzy Osbourne’s 1981 classic “Diary of a Madman”.

“Imperium” from album “Through the Ashes of Empires” starts proceedings and the band take us on a history trip which stretches back 22 years. When Flynn strikes the chords to “Davidian”  it’s hard to know what hits the floor faster, the collective jaws of everyone in the room or the pile up of bodies in the pit? Two other numbers are played from the same album, their debut one, “Burn My Eyes”, which were “Old” and “A Nation on Fire” – the latter played for just the second time on this tour.

Watching Machine Head is watching a band that genuinely loves what they are doing. Phil Demmel’s incredible guitar solo felt like a ritual, Dave McClain’s intensively brilliant drum solo followed and Jared MacEachran seems like he’s been in the mix with the band for ten not three years. We are even treated to snippets of a bass solo.


Photo Credit: Jern Watson

And then there is Robb Flynn, the only original member who has consistently been on his game for two decades. You watch him mostly with his eyes closed, the way he presents himself, the way he plays there’s something there that reminds you of Lemmy. If that torch is going to be passed one day Flynn seems more than capable. When he talks you listen because you know he has something important to say and it’s done straight from the heart.

Sandwiched in between the solos is “Darkness Within”, which Flynn dedicates to the audience. He talked about how the band were due to originally play at The Bataclan in Paris before the tragic events of last year and said that France had been “through a lot of shit”, it was then that he became emotional but he kept it together to give a sterling performance of the song.

We get two encores which include “Sail into the Black”, “Now I lay Thee Down” and “Game Over” two of those from their last album “Bloodstone & Diamonds”. Dimebag Darrell gets a shout out and a dedication when the band launch into “Aesthetics of Hate” from their 2007 effort “The Blackening”. And at the third time of Flynn asking we get a proper circle pit- the first two were akin to an omelette falling apart within seconds. But the crowd get it right this time. At the end of the song Flynn points upwards in honor of Dimebag.

Despite the emotion of playing in France and just wrapping up their show in Paris two days prior to this gig, Flynn is in good spirits. He apologizes to the crowd that he could not pronounce the city of Reims properly. It should be said as Ranze but he can be forgiven since a recent study unearthed that Reims is the hardest French city to pronounce for English speakers.

“Halo” closes a set that included 22 songs of brutal intensity which more than satisfied the sold out crowd who had waited a month longer to see the band given that this show had to be rescheduled after Flynn came down with a throat infection. But this penultimate show of their European tour was well worth waiting for and another success in the Machine Head resume it’s quite clear that they will be welcome back to France with open arms and open hearts.