As I’m sure any of you who know me are aware, I really, really like Slipknot. They were the first band I really loved. I’ll never forget buying my copy of Iowa back in 2006 from Virgin Megastores in Barnstaple. From the first time I heard People = Shit, I was hooked. In the following years, I bought all the albums (special editions, too), the t shirts, and at time of writing I’ve seen them four times, including their now iconic performance at Download Festival in 2009. Now, don’t get me wrong, they’ve been outstanding every time, but there’s never been a Slipknot show that’s recaptured the energy, effort and drive of that one. Will their show at London’s Wembley Arena manage it? With huge support from nu-metal brothers Korn, can Slipknot rise to the top once again?
First band of the night, King 810 hit the stage with varying degrees of success. On record, I’m unconvinced, and that hasn’t changed here. Whilst the band manage to get a great audience reaction for some of their more catchy tracks, the decision to drop the slower, more considered Write About Us half way through their set really kills any momentum the band were building up throughout. Musically, the band are tight, with special attention to the fantastic drummer holding everything together. Unfortunately, vocalist Gunn is the weakest link here, losing steam almost as soon as the last note of opener Killem All hits. Add to this the incredibly cringe-worthy subject matter of the majority of their lyrics, as well as their truly dire intro tape and you have a performance that’s more laughs than sing-a-long. I’d be lying if I said there was NOTHING to enjoy here, as I had a relatively fun time watching the band play through their set. Maybe some way down the line King 810 might pull out a performance that changes everything, but until then, they need to be concentrating on playing the smaller rooms and honing their craft. 5/10
Next up, main support Korn hit the stage in spectacular fashion with Twist, and from the outset it’s clear they’re here to prove a match for Slipknot later in the night. The set is cultivated neatly, with each song better than the last in it’s own right. I sometimes find Korn can be incredibly hit and miss in a live setting, but at Wembley they’re on absolute top form, smashing out hits like it’s any other day. Stage banter is kept to a minimum as usual, but this time it doesn’t matter. Jonathon Davis’ vocals are more than enough to keep the crowd happy, rabid and pumped for the main event.
However, the real highlight of the set comes toward the end, as headliners Slipknot are brought out for a crushingly heavy rendition of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, just forcing this performance even further into the spotlight. It’s clear this is a historic moment in each band’s careers, and seeing them perform together on the same stage is something everyone in the room has been dreaming about for decades. Korn really pulled it out of the bag tonight, and left us all wondering why the band aren’t headlining these rooms like their brothers higher up the bill. 9/10
As excitement for what everyone just witnessed still hangs in the air, we’re given the intro tape to the band we’re all here to see. Beginning in usual spectacular fashion, Slipknot hit the stage with new album opener Sarcastrophe, and it’s clear from the get go the band aren’t messing around. Jumping straight into The Heretic Anthem, the night is absolutely filled with stone cold classics throughout. The band have a renewed enthusiasm about them, as lead vocalist Corey Taylor speeds around the stage. It’s hard to keep your eyes on just one component of this manic show, as percussionists Chris Fehn and Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan rise above the crowd on precarious looking drum risers, flame spits from the back of the stage and DJ Sid Wilson uses the stage as his own personal playground. For the first time since 2009, what we’re seeing is a new Slipknot, ready to take the world’s stages by storm once again with ferocity and blood.
Another thing that’s changed since those older shows is the setlist. Finally deciding to drop in blinding tracks such as My Plague & Three Nil alongside newcomers The Devil In I, Custer, The Negative One and Sarcastrophe creates a contrast fans have longed for since the release of 2008’s All Hope Is Gone, an album with some great material that never got any live airing. This just showcases new confidence, in both new songs and the two new members. Both performed fantastically, with specific praise for the drummer, picking up on Joey Jordison’s past presence with flair and respect.
What truly changed, though, is how I felt coming away from this show. Before, I felt satisfied, happy to have seen such a vicious band defeat every other player in the game once again. But this time was different. I was excited, sad, but incredibly hopeful. I was ready for another round. It all went past in such a blur. It was obvious that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, too. On several occasions during the night, patrons in the seating sections were clambering over balconies to join the carnage down on the floor, only to be thwarted by security. With their upcoming headline slot at Download this year, I have every reason to be excited beyond belief. And so do you. Let’s just hope it isn’t another seven years before we see another tour from the Nine.
The Heretic Anthem
The Devil In I
Before I Forget
Wait and Bleed
Spit It Out
People = Shit