Closing out Sonisphere 2011 were the colossal Slipknot with what was a hugely emotional and powerful set. The untimely death of bass player Paul Gray last year set into focus how fragile life can be and the Slipknot Maggot Meet-Up held on Sunday morning was a stark reminder of how much the music of Paul Gray had had on many, many people. But as Corey Taylor said as he took up the mic on the raining Sunday night “…this is a time for celebration….” and that is exactly what it was!

With the rain pouring down 60,000 people walked in unison as the sounds of  ‘742617000027’ rang out across the festival site, it was like a call to arms for the crowd to head to the Apollo Stage to witness the most anticipated set of the weekend.

Dressed in their original red boiler suits, but with later masks, Slipknot began the concert of their lives. ‘(sic)’, ‘Eyeless’ and ‘Wait And Bleed’ got the crowd warmed up as did the pyrotechnics, we could feel the heat from the flames from 100 yards away… As is customary Shawn ‘The Clown’ Crahan and Chris Fehn were jumping from their drum risers and throwing the beer kegs around the stage. Another treat was seeing Sid Wilson crowd surf all the way from the stage to the sound booth 100+ yards away and then proceed to climb it and jump off into the crowd, just brilliant to see!

One abiding memory that will last for a long time, which also demonstrates the power of Slipknot, was seeing 60,000 fans drop to the floor under the say so of Corey Taylor, remember that it had been raining for several hours and was still raining at the time, and all but a handful dropped to the muddy, rain drenched floor for what felt like an age… it was a seriously powerful moment!

As ‘Spit It Out’ closed the main set, the band left the stage, the lights dimmed and a lone Slipknot S was drenched in flames, the first of many poignant moments to come… The encore was announced by ‘(515)’ blasting through the PA speakers as the Slipknot boys returned to the stage to perform ‘People = Shit’ and ‘Surfacing’.

That was when the emotions took over… with ”Til We Die’ playing in the background, all of the video screens displayed a huge number 2 and Paul Gray‘s bass guitar and boiler suit were brought to the front of the stage. Even the most stoic in the crowd must have had a lump in their throat as each of the band members, now including Donnie Steele who had been playing bass off stage, took their turn in hugging Gray‘s boiler suit and facing the giant video screen at the back of the stage displaying the number 2… a moment that will live with us forever.

A very emotional end to a wonderful weekend, filled with excellent bands, great people and many, many memories! Same again next year? Oh, we think so…

Slipknot setlist:
Wait And Bleed
The Blister Exists
Before I Forget
Pulse Of The Maggots
Frail Limb Nursery
Left Behind
The Heretic Anthem
Only One
Spit It Out

People = Shit

‘Til We Die