Concert Review: Machine Head Play Final Show With Phil Demmel & Dave McClain In Santa Cruz, CA

On November 24, I attended Machine Head’s concert at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA and it was an awesome show that saw guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain take the stage with the band one last time.

The group kicked off the three hour set with “Imperium” and the crowd lost their minds. The energy in the room was infectious right from the beginning and it was sustained throughout the night as the band continued to power through tracks like “Volatile,” “Now We Die,” and “Beautiful Mourning.” The group were solid on all fronts and were definitely trying to put on an amazing performance in light of Demmel and McClain’s impending exit. Frontman Robb Flynn was even trying to get the entire audience involved with fist pumping, clapping, moshing, and more.

After about seven songs in, Demmel was given a chance to show off his skills with an insane guitar solo. It was kind of a bittersweet moment, considering he will no longer be performing with Machine Head, but the crowd loved every second of it. As he finished, people started to chant “thank you Phil” for his years of work with the group. From there, they launched into “Darkness Within” followed by the title track to their latest album “Catharsis.”

The band then played six more tracks, including: “Is There Anybody Out There?,” a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Locust,” etc., before it was time for McClain to say goodbye with an epic drum solo. It was another bittersweet moment since McClain’s thunderous beats will no longer be present in the band’s live shows, but everyone was awestruck nonetheless. The solo paved the way for three more killer songs, “Bulldozer,” “Killers & Kings,” and the crowd favorite “Davidian.”

After that, the show began to reach its end, but the energy never faded. In fact, it actually grew as the group rocked a covers medley featuring tracks from Metallica, Bon Jovi, Queen, Guns N’ Roses, and Alice In Chains. As if that wasn’t enough, they followed it with “Aesthetics Of Hate,” “Game Over,” and “Old” as the main set came to a close. The audience then screamed “Machine Fucking Head” repeatedly until they returned for their encore song “Halo.”

At the conclusion of the track, Flynn thanked everyone for coming out, and said it was kind of a weird moment since it was Demmel and McClain’s last show, but the two did have an incredible sendoff as the crowed yelled “thank you Phil and Dave.” Demmel seemed to be a little emotional and gave a Flynn a long hug, before all the members ended up hugging each other. Demmel and McClain then took center stage for one last bow as everyone screamed. With that, the latest chapter of the band was officially closed on a high note. However, there is still a bit of uncertainty regarding their future, so it will be interesting to see where Flynn takes things next.

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One response to “Concert Review: Machine Head Play Final Show With Phil Demmel & Dave McClain In Santa Cruz, CA

  1. Would’ve been a helluva show to be at. I caught them a few months ago, fortunately, and was reminded of just how fantastic a live band this current line-up has been – unquestionably the greatest live band I’ve seen both at this show and the last time I saw them, back in 2016.