I can’t move my neck today.
And arguably that’s the way it should be if you manage, against every logical impulse, to find yourself at the front of the 13,000 angry ‘maggots’, or Slipknot fans, that line Glasgow’s Hydro on a Sunday night. And when I say lining, I mean crushing desperately inwards towards the barriers. I am so glad ribs are flexible.
As I sauntered in to the venue at just after seven, King 810 were doing their best to aurally wound the entire crowd, with painfully derivative, needlessly violent (and needlessly shite) recollections of their, I suspect fabricated, ghetto upbringing. As they murdered (ironically, given their lyrical content) their six-song set I ditched my jacket and began moving reluctantly closer to them, hoping to secure a decent spot for myself for the bands I was actually there to see. As King 810’s frontman thanked Slipknot for bringing them on tour ‘because no other band was stupid enough to give them a chance’ I laughed out loud and swiftly moved away from the angry glares of people cheering on the band’s biggest hit, ‘Fat Around the Heart’, screaming along (I did too, guiltily) to classic lyrics such as ‘You’re fat around the heart/ Are you scared, motherfucker?/ Are you scared of the dark?’ (repeat times several). As they closed to surprisingly rapturous applause I snuck under the arms of a few more burly Glaswegians and moved ever closer to my goal of the front.
Korn’s set was only disappointing in that it was too short. With the rash of co-headlining tours at the minute I kept forgetting Korn were only supporting Slipknot, albeit with roughly a billion times more style, talent and enthusiasm than their other support act. Lead vocalist Jonathon Davis gave an incredibly enthusiastic and vibrant performance, bringing the clarity of speech and gritty tone straight off the album version of each song. A versatile performer, his bagpipe intro to ‘Shoots and Ladders’ was met with absolute roaring, and his unique vocals on Twist were similarly well-met.
Their bassist Fieldy gave an amazing performance, playing the low, slapping tones Korn have become so well-known for, even managing to sustain this whilst playing between his legs. The highlight is a tie for me however, between Right Now, one of the most vicious songs Korn have written, which the drums and bass were just perfect on, and Jonathon Davis being presented with a birthday cake by both his own band members halfway through, and three of Slipknot’s members (one of them bizarrely out of character in a tracksuit) at the end. As the crowd sang happy birthday to Davis, he smiled and said there was nowhere he’d rather be than on stage in Glasgow, which I’m sure warmed the cockles of all those angry metal-heads.
As Korn vacated the stage, a curtain fell, hiding the entirety of the massive Hydro stage, and from my vantage point at the barrier I was able to see looming shapes moving behind it, hundreds of metres of wiring being uncoiled and bizarrely, fake snow falling out from under the curtain. A guy behind me commented that only in Glasgow would it be snowing inside as well as out.
As the curtain rose to earth-shaking roars (not cheers, roars, like T-Rex decibel level) it was clear why the curtain had come down. The stage set up, having consisted of two boxes and a drum kit for Korn, now resembled an acid trip to hell. Two sets of stairs led to an upper level of the stage, dominated by a demon-like goat-head, as the two percussion players play kits mounted on hydraulic platforms at each side of the stage, both with their own decorative mini goat-heads.
Throughout their well-selected mix of old and new songs, spanning the classics of their back catalogue and selected singles from their newest album, The Gray Chapter, the defining feature of the performance was undoubtedly the theatricality. From Joey Jordison’s replacement with his wild, waving, yet incredibly tight drum performance to the twin terrors of Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn dominating opposite sides of the stage with chaotic percussive contribution, and the rest of the band giving absolutely solid backing to Corey Taylor’s aggressive, dominating performance, getting as close to the audience as possible. Despite fears about the deterioration of his vocal ability, he delivered an impassioned show, full of grit, venom, anger, yet at the same time, a deep love for what he was giving to the crowd, and the crowd themselves. As they played their encore of People=Shit and Surfacing, I was physically unable to lift my arms from the pressure of the crowd pushing in on me, and as I grinned at the incredible atmosphere around me, Corey Taylor pointed straight at me, before thanking the crowd for waiting five years for Slipknot’s return, and vacating the stage. As I wobbled with joy at being singled out (I’m not imaging it, I swear) I waited with the rest of the fans to desperately attempt to salvage a scrap of stage, a plectrum, a setlist, anything for my little sister, who, too young to come to the gig, was sitting at home sorely disappointed. As I dressed the morning after, unable to lift my arms higher than my chest and incapable of dressing myself, I shuddered with glee at the thought of the next Slipknot tour, and what my sister has to look forward to.