Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 2/11/2020, I started my year of concerts with an inspiring club show by Machine Head.
The Vogue in Broad Ripple, Indianapolis was the intimate venue for a rampaging 3 hour performance by the venerable metal band led by Robert Flynn.
Machine Head were in town in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Burn My Eyes, which they played in its entirety during the second half of their marathon display of metal superiority. For me, personally, it was a revelation to see this band get such a great opportunity to stretch their musical muscles. I had previously seen Machine Head 3 times, but always as part of a festival setting, with constricted time limits. I was beyond impressed at the endurance of Rob Flynn’s vocal chords. The man has a superhuman set of pipes, and definitely wasn’t holding back at any point in the show.
During the first set, Flynn led the reconstituted lineup (last year, longtime lead guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain left the band) featuring Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka, drummer Matt Alston, and bassist/vocalist Jared MacEachern through a strong list of fan favorites that covered a wide range of material from various phases of the band’s career.
Kieltyka, a veteran of bands such as Decapitated, Lux Occulta, and Vader, was particularly impressive, playing a mixture of lead styles with ferocity, complexity, and soaring tone that cut through the mix to perfection.
Robert Flynn has grown into a pretty fierce lead guitarist, also, and he went toe to toe with his new partner in several thrilling displays of pyrotechnic guitar battles.
Flynn is a master at getting the audience involved in the action, and he had the small but vocal crowd singing along at every chance, and incited boisterous circle pits throughout the evening.
Some of the highlights from the first set included the massive opener, Imperium, savage versions of Take My Scars, Beautiful Mourning, Locust, I Am Hell (Sonata in C#), Aesthetics Of Hate, Ten Ton Hammer, and Halo. My personal favorite was Darkness Within, where Flynn strummed chords and delivered a 7 minute speech that began on a lighthearted note and gradually became a passionate description of the power that music has to lift us out of depression, eventually beginning the song on solo acoustic guitar and then building into a colossal crescendo of power from the full band, ending with the entire audience vocalizing the melody of the song under Flynn’s direction…a totally breathtaking experience.
After Halo closed the first act on an amazing high note of musical bliss, Flynn brought out original Machine Head members Logan Mader (lead guitar), and Chris Kontos (drums), to pulverize the faithful with a blistering gallop through Burn My Eyes.
Kicking off with the massive tour-de-force Davidian, through other ragers like Old, A Thousand Lies, None But My Own, Blood For Blood, and I’m Your God Now, Machine Head consistently played as if they were headlining a stadium gig instead of a less than capacity club. Before the crushing finale of Block, Flynn and the boys treated us to a medley of Metallica, White Zombie, and Slayer classics that comprised Welcome Home (Sanitarium), One, Seek and Destroy, Thunder Kiss ’65, South Of Heaven, and Raining Blood, that was pure magic!
At the end of the show, Machine Head brought out bags full of guitar picks commemorating the event, and made sure that most of the crowd got at least one. In truth, we got much more than that. We got an evening with a band that proved their love of music beyond all doubt, and delivered a performance of phenomenal power.