Machine Head gives Orange stage a much needed wake-up call

***** (5 stars out of 6) July 8; Orange Stage, Roskilde Festival

”Roskilde, are you ready to wake the f*ck up?” Machine Head’s frontman Robb Flynn wasn’t asking, he was commanding the audience to unleash all inhibitions and enjoy metal in its purest, rawest form.

The time was 17:30 and the weather was hotter than hell, causing a large part of the audience to chill lazily in the sun, rather than standing up and paying proper tribute to the thrash-metal legends from Oakland, California.

The Orange scene wasn’t quite itself, especially compared to Saturday, when a pin couldn’t be dropped without hitting an audience member. But none of it stopped Machine Head from putting on one of the best – if not the best – metal show of this year’s festival.

No strangers to Roskilde – they played in 2000 and 2007, both times at the Arena stage – Machine Head nearly destroyed the venue’s speakers. They were hands-down the loudest band I saw at Orange this year. The sound levels were sadly unstable but Machine Head rose above. They truly are in their own league when it comes to performing live. They could play in the middle of a tornado and still manage to maintain the audience’s support.

‘I am Hell’ from their seventh full-length studio album Unto the Locust kick-started the show. The heavy riffs filled the summer air and lazy or not, there wasn’t a soul in the venue who didn’t feel the band’s powerful vibes ripping through their insides.

A string of classics followed, including ‘Old’ from their 1994 debut Burn my Eyes, ‘Imperium’ from Through the Ashes of Empires (2003) and ‘Halo’ and ‘Beautiful Mourning’ from The Blackening (2007).

About halfway through the show, respect was paid to the late Dimebag Darrell from Pantera and Damageplan. “This is to our brother,” Flynn said. “Your brother.” And ‘Aesthetics Of Hate’ from The Blackening marked the moment in pure thrash-metal fashion.

Flynn’s onstage charisma truly is legendary. He was in charge and he knew it. Constantly engaging with the audience, Flynn had the mosh-pit right where he wanted them. They were like clay in his hands, literally doing anything he asked. And he was not about to go soft on anyone. Pushed to their limit, the pit was quite the sight – a testament to the band’s ability to unleash havoc anywhere they perform.

Flynn went on to complement Roskilde Festival and claimed this was the first time he ever got to see the sun shinning in Denmark. He reminisced about playing at the festival in 2000, opening for country legend Willie Nelson and how they mutually supported each other, despite their obviously different music genres.

Not a shy man, Flynn talked about his upbringing and how music has always played a major role in his life. “It has carried me through ups and downs,” he said. The thing about Flynn is that when he talks, the crowd actually listens. His words are somehow just as compelling as his growling. There is a duality about him: on the one hand is the awesome metal god but on the other hand, he’s just a metal-head, like the rest of the crowd.

‘Darkness Within’ from Unto the Locust was then dedicated to music in general and it was performed half-acoustically. What is it about metal bands and their ability to make beautiful ballads? In fact, there were several quiet, peaceful moments, where Flynn’s vocals were accompanied by little more than the guitar.

Machine Head lived up to their reputation and put on a devilish performance, despite the Orange scene’s lack of energy and the absence of the song ‘Davidian’ and its unforgettable line "Let freedom ring with the shotgun blast".