Machine Head bulldoze Tel-Aviv
"…I've done like 5 interview today and they all opened with: 'we have been waiting for you guys for 14 f**king years', so have we!" – Robb Flynn, 10/3/08
The thousand or so metalheads at the "Theatre club" in Jaffa (Tel-Aviv) sure gave Machine Head's Robb Flynn more than a reason to say such lines on the night of March 10th. The atmosphere was electrifying, and aside from gallons of sweat and cigarette smoke mixed in with heaps of testosterone to a not-so-pleasing cocktail, it is confident that most if not all present will remember this show as simply staggering.
The excitement started even hours before the show, when a bunch of juniors were already sitting on the venue's stoop wondering what songs would be done, and asking "Is that Robb Flynn???" right after they spotted him through a back door walking from one interview to another. Even though some of 'em were quite young, the atmosphere later was just like in the old days, when a metal show stood for good music in good company and a neck sprained from headbanging.
Machine Head showed immense presence on stage, which magnitudes as the crowd roared on "Machine F**king Head! Machine F**king Head!" like a gigantic metallic snowball, crushing everything in its way – that's how it went; 13 songs in total were played, both old and new but altogether without a single a weak spot.
Oakland's 4-piece heavy metal outfit have been touring extensively for more than a year now, and in coming to play in Israel had made their first "headlining show in some time" as Flynn kindly mentioned, following that with "We're gonna play a lot of f**king songs tonight".
As a bonus, Israel's own Betzefer made a solid warm-up appearance. Only sinning with too many new and yet unreleased (from a forthcoming album) songs on their setlist. Betzefer's sound was with little place for improvements; vocalist Avital Tamir sounded clearer than ever, while guitarist Matan Cohen could have used a bit of a sharper sound for some of his solos. Powerful breakdowns, a tight lineup and great groove stand for Betzefer – what doesn't? A 14-years-in-starvation crowd that can't wait to see one of the bands they used to (and may still) listen to in their growing years in their bedroom.
A little time to let the crowd steam in its own juices and a sudden shift upwards in volume in a good old heavy metal song is all it took to set the mood for the Californian metalheads to rise and give the first notes of "Clenching the Fists of Dissent".
Perfection in terms of execution, yet absence in clearer sound made this a real metal show. Flynn's clean vocals got kinda shadowed by the distortion wall and uncomplimenting acoustics the club is known for and the occasional riff got swallowed by feedback, but the band's attitude simply bulldozed these minor setbacks and went on to play well-known songs like "Imperium", "Ten Ton Hammer" and (fittingly) "Bulldozer".
Out of "The Blackening" (the album this tour is for) the sweeping "Now I Lay Thee Down" was executed to the crowd's roars, along the fierce "Halo" with it's grabbing shredding riffs and "Aesthetics Of Hate" got a spine-chilling performance done in honor of the late Dimebag Darrel, and marked one of the night's highpoints.
A combination of a great setlist and even greater energy was what “made” the show; “Burn My Eyes”, the band’s first album (also considered by some its finest), got a fine representation with “Old”, “Davidian” and “None But My Own”, while one of the band’s mellowest tracks “Descend The Shades Of Night” got an electric performance as opposed to an acoustic one (due to some technical difficulties) and those made the difference between an album-promoting show and a true metal show, done for the sake of enjoying some drinks, some distortion, and making some new sweaty friends.
Setlist - 10/3/08:
1. Clenching The Fists Of Dissent
3. Now I Lay Thee Down
4. Ten Ton Hammer
5. None But My Own
7. Blood Sweat And Tears
8. Aesthetics Of Hate
11. Take My Scars
12. Descend The Shades Of Night
Who would have believed that one day Machine Head, Machine F**king Head, would play a live show in the holy land? Surely, if asked a couple of years ago, most local metalheads would’ve dismissed the idea for being hopeless. The same occurred when Swedish prog-death mongers Opeth crushed the stage of the same “Theatre Club” in 2006, and now they’re planned to reappear this summer in a mysterious metal-fest. In 2006, after Opeth’s breathtaking show, the band promised to come back; considering the amazing feedback from the crowd in this case as well, it is positive that the ten ton hammer will land on one of our stages again…‘Till then, as Flynn said, Lechaim!