It seems weird to consider that headlining Wembley Arena is a big deal for Slipknot given the fact that in the time between their last UK tour and this one they have headlined 3 festivals to between 60-80,000 people. This is still something of a prestigious night though, as even a year ago the thought of a Slipknot UK tour seemed unfathomable, let alone one of this size. This may well be Slipknot‘s night and their resurrection, but they aren’t alone. Coming along for the ride are Korn, who are going through a rebirth of their own, and King 810 who may well have been the metal worlds most talked about band in 2014.
News reports detailing tales of violent crime ring out and echo through the arena signalling the arrival of the aforementioned King 810 to the stage. Tonight they are bereft of the thuggish theatrics that accompanied their recent UK headline tour. King 810 still pack an almighty punch live even without the added extras, opening with a soul rattling rendition of ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and it takes literally mere seconds for them to justify the ongoing praise that surrounds them. They sound as visceral and vital as anything that has hit metal in the last 10 years. Frontman David Gunn stalks and throws himself around the stage like a man possessed, every word that comes out of his mouth is laced with venom and bile, and is like a shock to the system. The musical side of the band holds up their end of the bargain, proving to be much tighter and more comfortable than you would expect from a band that hasn’t been around for very long, especially in front of a crowd this size.
King 810 keep the set tight and compact hitting some of the harder edged songs from their album, and closing with a frenzied ‘Fat Around The Heart’ they show tonight the kind of promise that many bands threaten but ultimately never deliver on. Time will tell if they can keep the momentum up, but rest assured they have a bright future ahead of them if they can.
Korn are a band that has had somewhat of a bumpy ride over the years, but who as of right now seem to be firing on all cylinders. That sentiment is no more apparent than when they stride onstage to a massive pop from the audience, and blast straight into ‘Twist’ which still sounds as fresh today as it did upon its release.
Korn are possibly the best band to put in this situation, as they have weathered the storms and gone on to become old reliable over the last couple of years, plus they have a built in set chock full of hits at their disposal which almost guarantees a healthy crowd response.
Tonight they seem focused and energised. ‘Here To Stay’ and ‘Right Now’ sounding particularly heavy and on point this evening. It would be easy at times to dismiss Korn for not being the band they once were, but when they are on they are virtually untouchable (no pun intended). Over the course of over 20 years they have written some of metal’s biggest and heaviest anthems and even this far into their career they can still go toe to toe with even the hungriest of young bands, which isn’t something every band can say at their stage of their careers.
They even manage to inject a fun highlight into the set by having members of Slipknot coming onstage to cover ‘Sabotage’ by Beastie Boys which provides something unique and special for the fans here tonight. Rounding their set out with a crushing rendition of ‘Blind’ they bring their set to a thunderous conclusion and perfectly set the stage for what comes next.
Slipknot are a different animal entirely. An 18 legged hate fuelled monster that has been waiting to strike for a long time now. With this being the band’s first time in London in 7 years, anticipation is justifiably and expectedly high this evening. So high that right above my head there is a drunk guy hanging from the balcony of the seating area, but I digress.
As the opening of ‘XIX’ plays over the arena, and the crowd starts to clap and sing along, you can see lighters and phones held aloft. You can sense something special is coming, something big is about to happen.
As the curtain covering the stage comes up and the nine appear, the entire arena erupts. This is happening…this is really happening. It takes a moment to sink in that they are actually here in front of me, but its a moment that can’t be dwelled on, as soon as you catch your breath, they have already come at you with ‘The Heretic Anthem’ which is a statement of intent if ever there was one.
Slipknot seem like they have come for a fight tonight, there is a fire here that hasn’t been seen in a long time, both figuratively and literally as tonight they have enough firepower to put Iron Man to shame, but also you can see it on the stage, right now each of these nine men is giving you every single thing they have to give.
Watching Slipknot in 2015, you realise just how far they have come from being the band that scared the shit out of the mainstream public on TFI Friday all those years ago, the band that used to nearly kill themselves onstage every night, and who came within an inch of self destruction in the process. Over the course of the last 16 years, they have morphed into one of the greatest metal bands to ever do it. The testament to that is in the songs played here tonight.
The sheer volume of great songs that they have nowadays means that they can never ever play anything less than a stellar setlist, that even songs noticeable by their absence aren’t really missed all that much. The new material sounds as heavy as you expect in the live setting with ‘Custer’ and ‘The Negative one’ sounding especially colossal, as if they are about to level the building itself, and that is exactly what Slipknot should sound like.
It’s a fitting tribute to the type of band Slipknot are now that people aren’t here waiting to hear ‘Wait and Bleed’ or ‘Spit it out’ and while those songs do get an airing, they are dwarfed in comparison to the reaction that songs like ‘Eyeless’, ‘Psychosocial’ and ‘Duality’ receive. These are the songs that have defined a generation and have conquered both dance floors and festival sites alike.
The stage show that accompanies and frames tonight’s chaos seemingly takes a visual cue from Clown’s time working on the film ‘The Devil’s Carnival’ featuring strings of bulbs, a demon goat head, fun house mirror and a backdrop with the ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ art on it, as well as the aforementioned pyrotechnics. Its simple but suitably impressive for a show of this size.
Tonight as they rip through a greatest hits set, the likes of which may never be matched, Slipknot do not set a foot wrong. The name of the Prepare For Hell tour is very apt as Slipknot have brought hell with them and then some, just one look at the war zone that is the standing area proves just how long fans have waited for this and both the crowd and the band do not disappoint.Its interesting to note that Slipknot are one of the few bands that can go away for 7 years, (festival slots aside) and still retain their original fanbase whilst pulling in a whole new one in their absence
Last time I saw Slipknot I wrote that I was disappointed and it seemed as though the band was going through the motions, but it seems that new material and some new blood has injected some new life into them, and they are back to firing at full tilt again, they are back to being the hungry hate filled behemoth they once were, and for that I could not be happier.
Much has been made in recent years about Slipknot‘s future and if they even had one, but I think that rumours of their demise have proven to be greatly unfounded. I am now more convinced than ever than when the end of the world comes Slipknot will not only soundtrack it but they will also be the only thing left standing.
Tonight has been an absolutely stunning return from a band that no one ever should have doubted, myself included. Long live the nine.
Photos by Sabrina Ramdoyal.