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MACHINE HEAD Live In Ottawa, Canada

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Monday, December 21, 2015 @ 5:48 PM


Bay Area Veterans Literally Kick It Old School At My Old School, The Bronson Center, Ottawa, Canada, November 22, 2015

- advertisement -
“Mommy told me/Stay in school/Don’t rock ‘n roll/But this is my American high!”

The Bronson Center has come a long way from back in the day when it was formally known as my old alma mater, Immaculata High School. It was a former all-girls’ school founded by Reverend J.J. O’Gorman, acting on the advice of what was deemed as a “higher ecclesiastical authority” and was run by the Grey Sisters for several years. Being a Catholic school down to the core, it imposed a strict school uniform policy of a blue sweater/cardigan and grey dress pants/knee-length skirt ensemble which pretty much everyone enrolled at the school violated from time to time. Famous alumni who attended the school at the time included the following people:

  • Craig Lauzon, comedian/accomplished actor from the Royal Canadian Air Farce comedy troupe/series
  • Sally Clelford, former actress-turned talent agency scout now based in Hollywood
  • Megan Jerome, accomplished jazz singer/musician who had one of her CD’s in my KNAC Top Ten list a few years ago, possibly 2009 or 2010 which saw her sharing room with QUEENSRYCHE and KATAKLYSM
  • Alanis Morrissette, former teen pop star-turned mid-90’s post-grunge diva who spent Grade 7 and 8 at Mac bragging about how MADONNA got a copy of her lyrics for her first album and wanted to sign her to her label at the time. She also delivered a decent cover of “The Greatest Love Of All” by Whitney Houston at one of our school’s talent festivals and we responded by booing her performance mercilessly since we had gotten tired of her non-stop bragging by then.
It’s irrelevant information to share for those outside Ottawa reading this review. However, if you’re anyone in legendary Bay Area thrash quartet MACHINE HEAD who were playing Ottawa for the first time in their 20+ year career at a former all-girls school-turned-concert venue, this was information which was best that you, you, you oughta know.

Luckily, for the lineup of frontman/guitarist Robb Flynn, bassist Jared MacEachern, guitarist Phil Demmel (brandishing a replica Randy Rhoads Flying V guitar throughout most of the show) and drummer Dave McClain, their two and a half-hour set was comprised solely of 20 years’ worth of ferocious groove-inspired thrash masterpieces stemming from their debut album Burn My Eyes to 2014’s Bloodstone & Diamonds. The band’s performance in Ottawa was part of their extensive tour simply billed as "An Evening With....", which, according to Flynn, allowed for them to play longer sets and include some deep cuts from their catalogue rarely played live - a treat especially for fans who have never seen MACHINE HEAD before, which would explain why the band had been playing in new territory during this tour and reaching out to as many fans as possible. The audience also happened to include my brother-in-law Hubert who wanted to tag along with me at the last minute, aware of MACHINE HEAD’s popularity solidifying in Europe during the 90’s when Burn My Eyes was released. He would not be disappointed by the concert that night though he did opt to watch it from a reasonable distance.

Once the first soft opening melodic chords of “Imperium” were played and made way for the mighty percussion crash that followed, MACHINE HEAD were well-tuned and ready to take the fans on a nearly 3-hour trip through their extensive discography. From their groove-heavy nu-metal sound to their current progressive and aggressive thrash sound, MACHINE HEAD showed that they were not only a band that was adept to various musical changes including those that were the least popular during the time, but also capable of bridging their past and future sounds together. They also proved that they could rile up a crowd as Robb Flynn kept pressing the audience to “make a giant fucking circle pit” during many of the band’s faster numbers later on, such as “Bulldozer”, “The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears” and “Aesthetics Of Hate”. The crowd complied and even took the action up a notch with lots of old-school crowdsurfing spotted on the floor.

Elsewhere, Flynn was also a frontman of several stories which he was eager to share with his new audience of Undesirables. Armed with an acoustic guitar before launching into “Descend The Shades Of Night”, he told his favorite story about the Iraq war vet who saw MACHINE HEAD at a show in Wisconsin after returning from active duty and thanked Flynn personally for his music helping him get through several long nights of sentry duty, presenting him with a Purple Heart which Flynn displayed on the strap of the guitar he was playing.

Even as the show came to a close, MACHINE HEAD were all about time management and value as they gave their last three numbers of the evening - “Game Over”, “Old” and “Halo” - an extended workout as both Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel dueled each other by trading solos and riffs with lots of supercharged string-bending aplomb. Once the house lights went on, it was time for the band to take a selfie with 1,000 of their newest friends. New fans left awestruck of MACHINE HEAD’s first Ottawa performance, particularly Hubert who declared their set to be twice the value that he got compared to when he saw the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS play for barely even an hour at a show in Scotland a decade ago. And the band celebrated another successful tour stop in a new city likely by downing lots of complimentary bottles of Molson kept chilled by the frozen tears of several of my former female classmates whose dreams of having the NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK headline a school prom would remain unfulfilled.

Whereas rock and roll and staying in school paid off for my (North) American high and MACHINE HEAD could finally be crossed off my bucket list of the most anticipated bands to see live. Break the rules and catch this tour in your town.

http://www.machinehead1.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MachineHead/

Setlist:

  • “Imperium”
  • “Beautiful Mourning”
  • “Now We Die”
  • “Bite The Bullet”
  • “Locust”
  • “From This Day”
  • “Ten Ton Hammer”
  • “This Is The End”
  • “Elegy”
  • “The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears”
  • “Crashing Around You”
  • “Darkness Within”
  • “Bulldozer”
  • “Killers And Kings”
  • “Davidian”
  • “Descend The Shades Of Night”
  • “Now I Lay Thee Down”
  • “Take Me Through The Fire”
  • “Aesthetics Of Hate”
Encores:
  • “Game Over”
  • “Old”
  • “Halo”


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