Nostalgic pleasure. Those are the two words I’d use to summarise last night’s affair at the SSE Hydro. The trip back to my teenage years was prompted when Korn sloped out from the darkness, bursting into what was pretty much the greatest hits.
Jonathan Davis – who was celebrating his forty-fourth birthday was up for this one – his energy seemingly being absorbed by those around him and lifting the performance above anything else I’ve had the pleasure of viewing in Glasgow’s premium venue.
An impromptu birthday celebration for Davis was squeezed in midway through the set, to which he got a full-house rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. A touching moment for the man with a thousand kilts and a penchant for bagpipes no doubt.
The crowd were clearly here, not only to see headliners Slipknot, but also Korn who are now entering into their third decade together. The participation and interaction between Davis and the surging waves of fans packed into the standing area around us was electric.
The separation of guitars from Munky and Head along with the driving bass fueled by slap-a-tastic Fieldy was flawless. The sound was magnificent and you could pick out each part note by note. Either the Hydro is improving or the guys at the sound-desk were playing a blinder. Either way, it was an impressive feat in a building that can, at times, seem very cavernous and hollow.
‘Here to Stay’, ‘Right Now’, Got the Life and ‘Freak on a Leash’ got the best out of everyone in attendance but for me it was set-closer ‘Blind’ that pushed things up to a ten. That intro, slow in its build fired everyone into a frenzy and before we knew it the lights were going up and Davis was collecting his second birthday cake of the night, this time from a semi-dressed Slipknot. Happy Birthday Jonathan!
The curtain was drawn as the set was readied and the build up to the main event was upon us. ‘XIX’ ringing through the PA, within a minute the creepy notes of ‘Sarcastrophe’ rung out – a frenzy ensued, with the crowd surging forward as I would only expect from all the ‘maggots’ in attendance.
One reservation I had pre-gig was that there were nine musicians sharing the same stage and essentially the same sound space and judging on the melded sound I’d experienced in The Hydro before I thought it was going to be one big, heavy rumbling noise – it turns out that my fears were unfounded and the sound was in fact tremendous.
The tempo throughout the set was that of a steam-train, it didn’t let up at all. So much so that as ‘The Devil in I’ kicked in I found myself being pulled further into the crowd and eventually into the middle of a pit which had formed around ten deep from the barrier at centre-stage. It was like the good old days when I didn’t have the back of a 90-year-old and was able to keep up with the best of them for a full set.
The formidable Mick Thomson a.k.a. “Number Seven” was only yards in front of me, shredding out lick upon lick and after reading a lot about how technically gifted this man is it was something else being there in front of him, watching the effortlessness of his playing – simply mesmerising stuff that justified the plaudits and praise that accompanies his name.
We know this isn’t a one-man show, there are another eight guys jumping and moving around the stage on what you could easily mistake for a horror version of Cirque Du Soleil. I’m surprised there hasn’t been any fatal injuries over the years with the way they throw themselves around while pyrotechnics shoot flames meters into the air above them.
Corey Taylor is the type of guy who comes across as a bit of a gent and a humbled one at that. Onstage he is a completely different beast. The man belted out everything note perfect as if it was played straight from the albums we know so well. The guy is an absolute demon with a microphone, I guess that’s why he’s so suited to this band. It’s not a million miles from his Stone Sour persona but it is definitely one of a more “mental” ilk.
In support of the latest effort – 5: The Gray Chapter – we had a varied mix of old and new – just the right amount of both – but I must admit there was slight disappointment at the omission of crowd-pleaser ‘Wait and Bleed’. I honestly thought that this would’ve been a stick-on for any set. We were however treated to the likes of ‘Psychosocial’, ‘Opium of the People’ and ‘Duality’, which almost had the roof off, amongst newer tracks ‘Sarcastrophe’ the show opener, and ‘Custer’ which was a surprise for me given that it was one of my least favourite tracks on the album.
There is so much going on at a Slipknot gig that you would be excused for missing half of it. With nine guys moving around and never really standing in the one place for any distinct amount of time it’s enough to send you into a dizzy state. However, what you do get from that is a little piece of everything. Whether that be the maniacal percussion of Clown and Long Nose on their spinning drum-lifts or the acrobatics of DJ Starscream. Session drummer Allessandro Venturella aside, the only static performer on the stage was The Killer. Not that it was a bad thing, I mean – he obviously knew he couldn’t stray too far from his station if he wanted to actually do what he was there to do.
As the night was coming to a close we were treated to a three-song encore following time-filler ‘742617000027’ starting with ‘People = Shit’, ‘Surfacing’ (another face-melter) and ”Till We Die’. However, not before Taylor could endear himself to the crowd with a heart-felt verse on coming to Glasgow and how much it means to them.
I’m not sure we’ll see them again but it will be tragic if that’s the case as these guys really know how to put on an intoxicating, loud, varied show.