Wembley… are you ready to do this?
That is the mantra of the night as Amon Amarth and Machine Head rolled into London, with The Halo Effect in tow. The Vikings and Lionhearts Tour 2022. A spectacular night of metal, the intensity of the music only matched by the dazzling brilliance of the stage show from each band.
So, Wembley Arena aka The OVO Arena. One of my least-liked venues. Mainly because I must travel across London to get there. First world problems, eh? But also because I’m just not a fan of arenas in general. The size, the beers, corporate feel and the queues. Speaking of which, Wembley’s one meant our stupid expectation of just waltzing in thirty minutes after doors opening was way off.
Sadly, that meant we missed almost all of The Halo Effect. Managing to get in, use the toilet and grab a beer (awful selection that would get worse as the night went on thanks to issues at the pumps) and into the cavernous main floor for the last two songs. Well, half of the penultimate track and the finale of Shadowminds. Which sounded immense. It made me bitterly regret not getting there much earlier but at least it looked like they had a hell of a crowd.
Amon Amarth and Machine Head are joint headliners on this tour but tonight, it’s the former up first. After a very snappy turnover, all the more impressive when you see just how big and elaborate their stage show is, it’s time for some heavy Viking metal. Amon Amarth literally explode on to the stage, smashing through Guardians of Asgaard, Raven’s Flight and The Great Heathen Army in quick succession.
The sound is enormous but what makes Amon Amarth and tracks like these all the grander is the visuals. Seriously, three tracks in, I turned to my wife and simply said ‘wow’. I don’t think I’ve seen a show with this much pyro outside of a Rammstein gig. It was spectacular.
As was the music and track selection, and that’s coming from someone who wouldn’t call himself a big Amon Amarth fan. Yet, because of how grand everything sounded and because of how intense Amon and the watching masses were, I really got into it. Tracks like Deceiver of the Gods, Put Your Back into the Oar, The Pursuit of Vikings, First Kill and Raise Your Horns were just head-banging fun to hear.
On any other night, and probably tonight in a lot of people’s eyes, Amon Amarth would be untouchable but we are looking at a revitalised and renewed Machine Head. A fresh line-up, a reset of how they do shows, a new album and a back catalogue that any band would dream of. It’s Machine Head’s night and once again, they prove that nothing can keep them down.
Opting for an array of incredible lights over intense pyro (although there is some), the roar that greets their arrival is loud enough to be heard on the other side of London. Wembley Arena is rocking, from the floor to the highest seat, there’s not a single person who isn’t head-banging to BECØME THE FIRESTØRM. Taken from the brand-new album, ØF KINGDØM AND CRØWN. In classic Machine Head style, it’s a heavy track that sounds even heavier live.
Strangely though, that is the only new track we will hear tonight.
Even stranger, barely a word is said from frontman Robb Flynn as they smash their way through a rousing Imperium and a gargantuan Ten Ton Hammer. Aside from his usual antics of commanding the pit and demanding everyone goes harder and faster.
There is a chance for everyone to catch their breath though, thanks to the intro of I Am Hell (Sonata in C#) before it’s back to chaos with the ferocious Aesthetics of Hate. To say that Machine Head are on form here is an understatement.
Finally with Darkness Within, Robb gets his chance to talk to the crowd as he remarks upon the experience, pays tribute to the Queen Elizabeth II and encourages every single person to find their own meaning in the track. It is always an immensely powerful song, and its impact is felt in every corner of the arena. The long outro, the band leaving the crowd to sing along on their own, is incredibly stirring.
Continuing to showcase just how great their back catalogue is, Locust gets a dusting off and it sounds bigger than ever. From This Day gets just about everyone moving and Davidian has all the velocity of a shotgun blast. Before Machine Head’s set and the night comes to a close with the much beloved Halo. A track that I’ll never get tired of hearing live, it is such a phenomenal piece of music, and the confetti cannons going off at the end made it feel all the more special.
After a troubled few years, it felt like a triumphant return for Machine Head and everyone in that arena lapped it up. That this came after such an incredible showing by Amon Amarth and The Halo Effect (as little as was seen), really does make this one of the best shows of the year.
The Vikings and Lionhearts Tour at The OVO Arena, Wembley, London (10/09/22)
Machine Head - 9.5/10
Amon Amarth - 9/10
The Halo Effect - 8.5/10