In England they have played many times before. Today DEEP MACHINE would play for the first time on the continent though. A giant trip to Aalst in Belgium was the only way to be able to see this cult NWOBHM band. DEEP MACHINE has got a past, which is surrounded by gold and therefore this was something that I wouldn’t like to miss. John Wiggins of TOKYO BLADE was one of the founding band members and ANGEL WITCH front man Kevin Heybourne also was a member of the band once . Besides these two people, TOKYO BLADE guitar player Andy Wrighton also played in this fabulous monster band. Add to this the great gig, that they played in Gouda in 1982 with AVALON being their support act and a few great demo tapes to their name and you have a handful of more good reasons to travel down to Aalst. Our guides in Aalst are Eddy and Christine, both metal fans to the bone. To find Negasonic is a true challenge, if you don’t know where to go. But with the right guides it was easy to find the small club in the centre of Aalst. A long, small bar divides the entrée of the club from the small stage. The lack of space becomes very obvious, when you see how the band has to find their way on the stage. Despite the small stage, there have been gigs here of bands like ANVIL, RAVEN and SACRED OATH. Today it is time for DEEP MACHINE to unleash a full set of NWOBHM. The music, that was played during the break, could very well have been from my own record collection. The most obscure NWOBHM songs are played at the club, which creates a real eighties atmosphere. Then finally the moment is there, that the band enters the stage. Original member Bob Hooker on guitar is accompanied by Nigel Martindale, who is his tandem mate. Drummer in the band is Chas Towler and on bass we have John Riley. Vocalist Lenny Baxter makes you think back to the heydays of JUDAS PRIEST. He is not only a very sympathetic front man, but he also shows that Rob Halford is his big inspiration. When the band starts their show with “Demon Preacher”, one thing becomes quite clear to me. This will be a night, that you can be proud of that you have been there to see it all happen. Or that can make you pull your hair out, because you were not there. DEEP MACHINE is in very good shape en with “Witchild” they already play another song from that legendary first demo. After “Whispers In The Black”, we also hear “Asylum” from the same demo. The highlights of the show are in the middle of the set with great performances of songs like “Iron Cross” and especially “Black Priestess”. “The Gladiator” is an immense heavy song and the show comes to and end with the last song of the well-known four track demo, which is called “Deep Machine”. The song is filled with twin solos and where possible Lenny jumps a bit in front of the stage to cheer up the public and make some heavy poses. Of course there were some encores needed to quiet down the crowd a bit, that really went insane during the show. And what’s the best way to please your audience with someone like Lenny in your band? Yep, you’ve guessed it already! By playing a few JUDAS PRIEST songs, like “Running Wild” and “Hell Bent For Leather”. These two songs take care of a big climate change in the Negasonic, that is really steaming now. At least in front of the stage, the temperature is rising very fast. But wait, there are even a few more nice surprises to follow. Rumour has it, that John Wiggins (TOKYO BLADE) would play a couple of songs with the band tonight as well. This happens after the regular set. The band performs the four songs of the demo once again, but this time with Bob Hooker and John Wiggins on guitar. These are the moments, that you won’t easily forget in the very cozy Negasonic in Aalst. Those Belgians know how to rock. After the show, the great atmosphere remains for a long time and the rock classics keep coming out of the speakers for many more hours. DEEP MACHINE members take the time to socialize with their fans and before you know it, it becomes late……..very late. We didn’t want to have missed this though. Thanks go out to our guides Eddy and Christine, Guido and of course Rita, who had to take pictures in some very difficult poses, because of the lack of space in front of the stage. Hopefully, we will be able to see the band again soon on the continent. Don’t miss that or you will be very sorry!
Setlist DEEP MACHINE:
Whispers In The Black
Running Wild (JUDAS PRIEST cover)
Hell Bent For Leather (JUDAS PRIEST cover)
Encores with John Wiggins:
*Written by: Toine van Poorten/December 2011
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten [www.metalmaidens.com]