The Prepare For Hell Tour brings both the fathers of Nu Metal, KoRn and the kings of the ‘modern’ Metal world, Slipknot. Its one of those tours that people talk about for months before and for years after, not only because of the significance of the bands, but their unbeatable stage performances. Slipknot hit Nottingham tonight for the first time since the tragic loss of Paul Gray and the first time this decade. Its not quite so long since KoRn have visited (2011 if I remember rightly), but, their absence in this city has made the fans ever more hungry to see them in the flesh.
KoRn are ‘Special Guests’ for Slipknot on this tour, but still have an 11-song set that spans across their 22-year-long career. They open up with the frenetic and eccentric “Twist” and all of Nottingham attempts their best Jonathan Davis beatbox impression, followed by a huge roar after its abrupt close. This becomes a pattern throughout their set. It’s a pattern that works pretty well, though, and one that gets a reaction of a similar size each time.
Aside from two tracks off of most recent release The Paradigm Shift, their set is steeped in classics, which tend to receive the biggest response from the crowd. As frontman Davis points out quite rightly, “Freak On A Leash” is older than some of the audience, which isn’t something that can be said for most concerts. For KoRn, though, who are still releasing such modern and relevant music, it’s unsurprising. They are strong tonight and even bring out the bagpipes for a stomping rendition of the peculiar nursery rhyme medley ‘Shoots And Ladders’.
The 30-minute wait that follows KoRn’s set is a wait that is almost agonising. The atmosphere that builds during this time could fill the Capital FM Arena ten-fold, as 10,000 hungry Metalheads buzz for the duration. Lights appear behind the stage curtain and the music playing though the PA stops suddenly, resulting in yet another roar from tonight’s crowd, before the opening chimes of “XIX”. Cue thousands of voices screaming the surprisingly melodic opener of .5: The Gray Chapter. As it comes to a close, the curtain drops and 9 suited and masked men take to the stage. The singing of Nottingham’s fans is now replaced by the raucous screams of frontman Corey Taylor as Slipknot launch into a guttural and visceral set, as all hell breaks loose. It’s not only those in the standing area that are in raptures, but those ‘seated’ all around them.
Slipknot’s stage setup tonight is by no means that of your run of the mill Rock band. The stage that they play on is an elaborately thought out, theatrical masterpiece. It’s flanked with two house-height drum-risers (for anyone that’s seen Slipknot before, they’ll know that they aren’t in fact ‘drums’, more so a grouping of metal barrels that the two clown-like figures mount to smash now and then with a metal rods and baseball bats.) It has two spring-based platforms for the synth players, a huge walkway lined with pyro-cannons, a corridor lined with lighting and a suspended devil’s head above it all.
Likewise, Slipknot’s set isn’t one comparable to that of your run of the mill band. Its viciously intense, its aggressive, yet melodic and its an all round brilliant show. It almost makes their six-year absence from Nottingham seem worth the wait. There’s good news amongst the mayhem, too, as Corey promises that the nine-piece will indeed return to Nottingham (or Slipknottingham as he dubs it earlier in the set). Most of the highlights tonight unsurprisingly come from all of the songs that Rock clubs around the globe have become accustomed to – “Psychosocial”, “Dead Memories”, “Before I Forget”, “Duality” and of course “Spit It Out”. Corey commanding a sea of thousands to “JUMP THE FUCK UP!” will never grow old. It’s the reactions to the new songs, though, that are so promising. Grammy award nominated “The Negative One” and “Custer” are equally unrelenting and brutal, whilst “The Devil In I” is every bit as exciting.
Bravo, Slipknot. Still the best Metal band in the world.
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