My friend and I had arrived an hour and a half early to queue at the entrance, the wait went faster than we had expected because we got the chance to speak to some interesting people along the way; including two alternative show dancers, which were there to film some footage for Slipknot’s show. We were a part of the early bird listing (it was combined with disabled access), so when we eventually allowed inside, we were privileged to be escorted to where we needed to be, given a map, and shown to our seats in the Access Zone; we were then left to our own devices.
The concert started a good half an hour afterwards, with the progressive metal band, Sikth being the first of the two supporting acts to appear. The band was intriguing, as though their music is enlisted as progressive metal, they had a very late 80s, early 90s rap-metal feel about their presence. It was that element that made me think of Rise Against the Machine. The disappointing part of their appearance was the reception they received from the audience – like Suicidal Tendencies, that came after them, they were very energetic, and enthralling, but the audience didn’t seem to be that captivated by them. They were treated like the unknown warm-up band before the main show.
Suicidal Tendencies had the opposite effect; this had been the first time the cross-over thrash metal band had played in London for over 30 years (taking into consideration the previous show the night before). Their presence seemed to have rattled the audience awake, and got them going; this was confirmed to be because there were exclusive fans of Suicidal Tendencies in the mix, as they were enthusiastically chanting ST whenever they could. The band in itself was a concoction of thrash, funk metal and skate punk, and it was literally like I had stepped back in time and was witnessing the 90s in all its glory.
There was another long interval before the main act of the night, Slipknot came on stage; in the meantime, they were paying tribute to David Bowie with Ashes to Ashes playing on the speakers, then, the climactic moment of the curtains coming down to unveil the Slipknot sign appeared, the light dimmed and we were treated with a small video introduction to the show with Prepare to Hell, from 5: The Gray Chapter. This was mine and my friend’s first time seeing the band, so we didn’t know what to expect after this extended interlude, but I will tell you now, I was blown away. When Slipknot came on, the entire venue was engulfed in this heated energy, something I never, ever experienced at a live concert before, ever. Another friend of ours who was attending, Sarah (editor) managed to see Slipknot two nights before in Cardiff (8th Feburary), and she explained that it was the most brutal Slipknot show she’d ever been to. We must’ve underestimated her at that point, because the atmosphere overwhelmed us, it was that immense.
Primarily, The Gray Chapter was the main material; the songs The Negative One, Skeptic (dedicated to their former bassist, Paul Gray), Killpop, The Devil in I, and Custer being their choice, accompanied by ‘Till We Die, Psychosocial, and Dead Memories from All Hope Is Gone (2008); (sic), Eyeless, Spit It Out, Surfacing and Wait And Bleed from their self-entitled album (1999); Disaster Piece, Everything Ends and Left Behind from Iowa (2001), and Before I Forget and Duality from Vol. 3 (2004). The songs that had unleashed the metalhead in me were Psychosocial, The Negative One and Custer; I headbanged like I never headbanged before, they rattled that unknown part of me out of the cage that night. I am usually reserved at concerts, and to have that happen to me surprised me, I never knew I’d have it in me.
The other great thing about Slipknot was how embracive Corey Taylor was; the band had been to every corner of the world throughout their career, and they treated every single one of their fans with respect. He wasn’t even being sentimental for the sake of it; he meant it, they meant it, as they were truthful with the emotions they express in their songs. It’s what made their performance so powerful. They saw London as their second home, which made the performance extra special. For the hours Slipknot were in our presence, they managed to swallow us up into their world, and share their love and pain, and both myself and my friend, came out almost like new people, it was that extraordinary. We’d both learned more about ourselves that night, I’m not joking.
The end of the concert turned out just as incredible, as on my way out from the show, Johnny Vaughn formerly of The Big Breakfast was in the same area of the audience of us, he was in absolutely awe and gushing out it to a security guard, it just showed how diverse their fans are, and how inclusive their music is. Slipknot are extraordinary, and even if you’re not a hardcore fan but like their work, I implore you to see them once, just once – they are so worth it, so totally worth it.
Video uploaded by Sarah Tsang.