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Review: Slipknot, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Middle-aged metallers, led by Corey Taylor, put in a slick performance on Tyneside from behind their emotionless masks

****

 

Prior to the Prepare For Hell Tour, Corey Taylor felt it necessary to reiterate the fact that Slipknot’s visceral anger was genuine in the early days. Perhaps the angst doesn’t flow quite as freely for the multi-millionaire middle-aged metallers 20 years down the line but there’s still plenty of fury where the Des Moines massive is concerned.

A degree of rage is surely a pre-requisite when delivering sickening crowd-pleasers The Heretic Anthem, Spit It Out and People = S**t – these combustible metal classics would be mere cliché without Taylor’s vitriolic vocal. His may well be a well-honed act hiding the slow drift towards mid-life contentment but it’s convincing enough in front of thousands of screaming Maggots (the name coined to describe a mass of Slipknot fans) who wouldn’t settle for anything less than a full-on show of fury from their band’s charismatic frontman.

Taylor aside, it’s increasingly difficult to gauge just what this band means to the remaining eight members. Founder Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan has confessed to finding himself at something of a career crossroads – hinting in a recent interview with British metal bible Kerrang! that Slipknot were far from united on their biggest tour to date.

Taylor’s long-serving right hand man Jim Root, meanwhile, is a master of the fretboard who, for long periods of a predictable yet potent set, played within himself. A blistering solo on Psychosocial offered a timely reminder of the towering guitarist’s unique talent but within this multi-faceted circus act he’s too often forced to play second fiddle. It’s a waste.

Neither Root nor Crahan appear entirely comfortable with their lot but who really knows the truth as long as the money rolls in and the Grammy nominations keep coming?

Behind their customised, contrived, emotionless masks, Slipknot’s various members can comfortably hide those knowing glances, cutting stares and beaming smiles that reveal so much about a band on the road.

On the face of it the tightest set of their career – those who remember the muddled, chaotic, early days must pinch themselves when presented with this super slick arena machine – screams togetherness. The reality may be very different.

Of course Slipknot have never cared much for reality. This is a show where those with energy to burn can lose themselves in a sea of pent-up emotion and the circle pits were typically brutal. It’s a show where fantasy trumps the cold, hard truth and a full-on aural assault is Taylor-made to batter the senses.

It’s also a show without Paul Gray and for all their manufactured bluster, Slipknot’s devotion to their deceased bass player is genuine. In fact Sarcastrophe, The Devil In I and The Negative One – hewn from pseudo-tribute album .5: The Gray Chapter – served as a timely reminder that even without their youthful anger this is a band that continues to evolve as a surprisingly evocative songwriting team.

Simon Rushworth

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