Machine Head + Bring Me The Horizon + DevilDriver + Darkest Hour @ Birmingham NIA, 4th December 2011


Over the past few years Machine Head have clawed their way back into the realms of metal royalty, thanks mainly to the phenomenal 2007 album, The Blackening, which saw the band receive its first Grammy nomination. After 20 years together it seems the band are finally getting the recognition they deserve, and this arena tour sees them playing their biggest headlining gigs yet.

Having said that, standing in an arena that seems only little more than half full, one can’t help feeling that tonight’s show would have been better placed in a venue like the Academy or Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall. The vastness of the National Indoor Arena means their usually immense sound loses some of its impact as it desperately tries to fill the space.


First up tonight, however, we have three established support bands to try to warm up proceedings. Washington DC’s Darkest Hour do their best to grab the attention of those who’ve made it into the arena early enough, but despite some strong songs and plenty of energy, it’s only the first few rows who really seem to be paying attention.

DevilDriver fare much better, with frontman, Dez Fafara, expertly winning over a crowd more than ready for the band’s solid riffs and driving rhythms.


Bring Me The Horizon manage to divide the crowd in a quite dramatic manner. While they certainly have a well established fan base and plenty of critical acclaim, tonight they’re greeted with constant boos from large portions of the crowd who seem to view them as some emo pretenders who don’t deserve to be on the same bill as Machine Head. This behavior from much of the crowd is, frankly, quite pathetic and one I’m sure the headliners would be saddened by. BMTH vocalist, Oli Sykes, confronts some of his detractors face to face on occasion but tonight, his band is fighting a losing battle. They do their best to rise above the abuse but the usual intensity of a BMTH gig is never realized tonight.


Machine Head take to the stage in a very no-nonsense fashion and, for the next 90 minutes, deliver a pulverizing set of anthemic songs which show many shades of the metal palette. Locust and Darkness Within prove that their new material is some of their strongest to date, but oldies such as The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears still sound ferocious in a live setting.

Rob Flynn is an enigmatic frontman with true rockstar appeal and seems to genuinely appreciate his audience. His bandmates never let him down either and each proves himself to be an important and talented element of the Machine Head sound.


Occasionally some clichés rear their head, most notably on the metal-by-numbers lyrical refrain of Who We Are, but these are minor complaints and for the most part Machine Head prove tonight that they’re more than worthy of their growing status. The standout moment tonight is easily the majestic Halo which takes things up a level for the encore before the bonafide classic that is Davidian leaves the audience more than satisfied as they head out into the cold Birmingham night.

Review & photos – Steve Gerrard

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6 thoughts on “Machine Head + Bring Me The Horizon + DevilDriver + Darkest Hour @ Birmingham NIA, 4th December 2011

  1. I was at the concert. thought Bring Me The Horizon were fantastic, the most energetic and impressive band of the night! I had never heard of them before but have bought their album already. Fantastic performance inspite of the crowd.

    Machine Head’s stage set was poor, with a basic 4 piece layout and some screens to play visual clips when they could be bothered. Several songs had nothing playing on the screens.

    The band members were almost glued to the spot, not moving around much, not very rock. It felt like they had no energy or will to put on a good show like the many that i have watched on youtube where they appear fantastic. The lead guitarist’s expressions, gestures and moves were so ‘scripted’ and weak – i want to see a bank rock hard and not wave his arm in the aitr like a member of Jusin Biebers backing crew.

    I wanted to see Machine Head live for years and felt thoroughly disapointed. I love their albums/music and hope to see them live again in the future to give them another chance to rock-hard like i know they can.

    Felt more like aging rockers than hard core metal. Sorry guys – its a must do better from me!

  2. I couldn’t disagree more!!! BMTH are awful, each song has to have an intro, they all sound the same, singer was constantly insulting the crowd who to be fare we’re giving it back!!!
    Devildriver should of been main support, they had the crowd going amazing!!!
    MH were ok, I’ve seen them 4-5 times now normally in a smaller venue and that’s where they should of played this time. But, enjoyable!!!
    What I will say is it was the loudest gig I’ve ever been to, my ears were still ring 36hrs later!!!!!

  3. Fair comment about DevilDriver – they were not to my taste but the crowd on the whole loved them!

    BMTH were hated before they got on stage, people throwing stuff at them, etc…. I thought they were ace and the people who were singled out in the crowd and insulted were most likey being morons (throwing the bottles and stuff).

    Your right about it being loud. May be they would be better in a smaller venue – it was embarrasing when they put up the lights to the seated crowd only to see it was 1/4 full at best!

    The whole blah blah about “we did Wembly last night, they were a better crowd” was laughable – are we at pantomime or a rock concert?

  4. BMTH are a good band, and progress throughout every album. Which is more than can be said for machine head. I used to be into machine head until i got bored with them, and the closed minded crowd they bring along.
    These metal heads don’t take the time to actually listen to the music, they see skinny jeans and just go ape sh*t. If BMTH looked anything like Machine head, they wouldn’t have anywhere near as many haters as they do.
    BMTH shouldn’t have deserved that from the crowd – an absolute disgrace. Metal Heads care more about image than anyone else, how ironic

  5. Just to set the record straight, I am both a fan of Machine Head and BMTH…slate me.

    First of all it seemed a shame that Darkest Hour weren’t on longer just so more people could of seen them, they were very energetic and to say this was the first time I had seen them, I almost felt into their songs straight away.

    Devil Driver aren’t to my taste, that doesn’t mean I’m going to slate them. They did their job got the crowd warmed up and ready to go. Very powerful music, but unfortunately goes over my head. I should probably give more time to their music.

    BMTH didn’t sound too great, I hated the fact they they got heckled constantly and things thrown at them. I admit Oli Sykes can be a bit of an idiot, but when you’re pumped and into your songs any person near the front who is giving you the finger or whatever is going to seriously annoy you and you’re going to feel like saying something back! those people who are chucking things and shouting things are seriously narrow minded…BMTH have their place whether you like it or not. Machine Head like them and have got more fans from this. I see BMTH as a gateway band to people who might progress on to other things like Machine head…isnt that a good thing? Slipknot were once quite hated, look at them now… If you don’t like a band go and have a beer, rather than chucking your fluids (9 times out of 10 covering the people in front of you rather than getting the band) towards the front.

    Machine Head were epic, yes it was disappointing to see the gaps…but what can you do? rubbish weather and poor economical times will contribute I’m sure. It didn’t stop them putting on a powerful display of their finest work. (8/10)

  6. Latecomer to the discussion here but my general impression was….

    Darkest Hour – I had a gripe here, it was advertised and also printed on the ticket that the show started at 19:00 with the doors opening about an hour before that….well we got there at 18:30 and Darkest hour were 2-3 songs into their set so not a great start, also with it being early doors meant not everyone was there and the arena seemed empty and lacking atmosphere, also add in the fact that I’m not really familiar with the band so all I can really say is that I can see the appeal and “potential” of the band but wasn’t really “feeling” it on the night for the above reasons.

    Devil Driver – This is a band I am familiar with, and as soon as they stepped on stage the place came to life, arena was still half empty but pushing myself further forward into the crowd and keeping my eyes firmly fixed on the stage in front of me and not on the half empty hall behind me allowed that feeling of “atmosphere” to seep in, these guys were great, got the crowd warmed up very nicely a few decent pits in full swing, this is what its all about.

    Bring me the horizon – Will say from the outset right from when i first purchased my ticket I was resentful of the fact that these were the penultimate act before MH…a spot that as far as i’m concerned belonged to devil driver, however I can say i’m not one of those petty dick heads booing and throwing stuff at them on stage, they just aint my cup of tea, when they came on, I went toilet, grabbed a beer got some food and came back when they were done…nuff said.

    Machine Head – Epic is the word I would use to describe them, and I mean that in the true definition of the word and not in the way the word has come to be used in “internet speak” recently. All the fan favorites were on the set list (with the exception of raising the fist of decent *angry face* lol) they did have me worried at one point when it looked like they were gonna wrap it up with who we are and not play the godly Davidian but the encore set it straight :-). By the time MH got on stage the arena floor seemed about 3/4 full and getting as close to the front as I could and in amongst the crowd much like with devildriver ensured that special feeling of electricity was present and accounted for, and I think Rob Flynn hit the nail on the head when he said that the band feeds off that atmosphere as much as we do and you could tell, by the end of the performance the guy was buzzing, fist pumping etc as they left the stage obviously pleased with the reception from the crowd, little touches like that where you know that the band on stage is loving being there performing as much as you’re loving being there listening makes the whole thing that much better.

    Awesome gig, would have been better in a smaller venue and minus BMTH (my opinion, don’t like it…tough) but overall £30 well spent.


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