Let me take you back to the noughties. I am fully engrossed in my awkward teenage years and my playlist is full of music that would scare your grandmother. Of these long-haired, screaming, growling bands one stood out above all the rest – Slipknot. I didn’t love Slipknot, I was obsessed with them. I knew every song, every lyric and more about the personal lives of the nine members then is probably healthy.
These days my musical taste can perhaps best be described as ‘Soft boy’. My playlists full of corduroyed, beanie-hatted indie guys rather than leather-clad machismo-filled rockers. But some things never change and Slipknot are one of the few Spotify survivors from my metal head days. So when I found out last year that the mighty ‘Knot’ were returning to Newcastle for the first time since 2015 I jumped at the opportunity and bought myself, my 16-year old brother and my cousin – and more importantly, oldest friend – tickets and counted down the days until I could strain my neck head banging and scream my voice raw. On Friday 17th January my wait was over.
Support Act – Behemoth
Before Slipknot took to the stage we were treated to the the Satanic glory of Polish black/death metal act Behemoth or, as a middle-aged metalhead on the Metro called them ‘Bahimeoth?’ Nergal and co played for around 45 minutes and eight songs, including three from their 2018-acclaimed effort ‘I Love You at Your Darkest’ – ‘Wolves ov Siberia’, ‘Rom 8:5’ and the ritualistic ‘Bartzabel’. Slipknot are known to the wider public as a ‘heavy’ band but compared to Behemoth they are more like the Wiggles. Therefore, when they came on stage and the blast-beats started there were more than a few members of the audience who had confused looks on their faces. Just a note – the stadium was only half-full for Behemoth with many people still waiting in the lobby. This is a really bad habit I have noticed at gigs. The way I see it the band you have gone to see picked their support act for a reason and then you should also respect them enough to watch that group. However, I am glad to report that once a few songs have passed the crowd got on side and their set went off great. Sadly, despite my best efforts no demons were summoned forth and the band left the stage to a great reception.
After a thirty-minute wait while the elaborate stage set was constructed the opening notes of AC/DCs ‘For Those About To Rock’ blared and the crowd was whipped into a frenzy – a great choice of walk on music. Then the lights dimmed, the stage lights came to life and the band walked onto the stage one-by-one with the instrumental into track ‘Insert Coin’ played – all went dark and then there was a roar unlike anything I have ever heard at a concert before. Whatever you think of their music, no one can deny that few in the music world understand what their fans want like Slipknot.
Back in August 2019 the band released their sixth album, the critically acclaimed ‘We Are Not Your Kind‘ and it was the lead single from that album – the melodic, swaying ‘Unsainted’ – that opened the show and with every war-cry of “Let me see your motherfucking hands in the air” the crowd responded as one with a sea of Devil horns bouncing up and down in a orgy of mosh.
The band played 17 songs and the gig lasted a good 90-odd minutes. Alongside the expect singles from their latest album – The groovy ‘Nero Forte’, and the creepy as fuck ‘Solway Firth’ (oddly named after the real-life Solway Firth up in Scotland) – the band also surprised fans with an unexpected outing for the fan favorite album track ‘Birth of the Cruel’. Of all the songs on the new album that was the one I was hoping they pulled out and my scream at the opening riffs would have been deafening had anyone around had an hearing capabilities left.
Last year was the 20th anniversary of the bands debut self-titled album ‘Slipknot‘ and to mark to occasion the group seemed to make a concerted effort to play their heaviest tracks and bring back some old school, almost death metal style tracks such as the brutal ‘Eeyore’ and the devastating ‘New Abortion’ (which I only discovered recently was a Cliff Richard cover). Slower tracks from recent albums once a staple of live shows such as ‘Killpop’ & ‘Dead Memories’ were tossed aside – for now – as each song acted as a boxers blow with no relenting. Slipknot came out to destroy with this set and they succeed.
Alongside the new stuff and the older rarities the band of course played many of their concert staples and fan anthems such as ‘Before I Forget’ and ‘Duality’. It was during these songs, songs once on constant repetition on my old MP3 player, that it finally hit home what this music actually means not just to me but to the thousands of others in the crowd singing at the top of their lungs in a mass cathartic almost spiritual experience. Male/female, black/white, young/old and of all sexualities came together as one. As Corey says we one “Great big fucking family“. Corney. Maybe. But in that moment it feels as true a statement as has ever been said.
As if to illustrate the point while myself, my younger brother and my cousin James were waiting in the line to go through security we noticed an older guy by himself. We talked to him and discovered he was in his seventies and had checked himself out of his nursing home especially to see the gig. Behind us in the venue were a father and his 7 year-old son, both resplendent in path-filled denim jackets who sang his little heart out with his dad through every song. It will be a night he will remember forever.
The last decade has been a pretty messed up one for the band. The tragic death of founding member and primary composer Paul Gray (1972-2010) and the departure of drummer Joey Jordison in 2013 and percussionist Chris Fehn last year has seen the once solid Nine fragment. This breaking apart was clear on the reflective album before last ‘.5: The Gray Chapter‘ but with a new decade upon us there is a distinctive feeling that all this turmoil is now behind them and the group (new members included) are returning to their early days and the reason they play music in the first place.
At many points throughout the gig lead singer Corey Taylor thanked the fans for their unwavering support across the decades and while all musicians take part in the cliche “You guys are amazing. The best crowd ever!” stuff when it comes to Slipknot you just know they mean it. The fans – the ‘Maggots’ as they are known – have always been at the heart of everything this band does and this gig reminded me that once a Maggot always a maggot. Come back soon Slipknot so I can feel that release once again.
Last modified: 21st February 2020