Slipknot with support from Suicidal Tendencies
Monday 15th February 2016 – SSE Arena, Belfast
Monday 15th February saw the long awaited return of metal giants Slipknot to Belfast. Having played the Odyssey Arena previously in 2002, the Iowan band certainly took their time to return to Northern Ireland despite including a Dublin show in their tour with Korn last year.
But come back they did, and they brought Californian thrash legends Suicidal Tendencies along with them. With much of the arena already filled, the “crossover thrashers” took to the stage, launching into arguably their best known song, ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’ from their 1990 ‘Lights…Camera…Revolution’ album. Starting with their thrashier material, the band then brought us back to their roots with ‘Institutionalised’ and ‘Possessed to Skate,’ exemplifying the punk-infused thrash that the band became known for.
Vocalist Mike Muir was clearly on form, regaling the audience with stories of punk gigs on Venice Beach and run ins with riot police, and a Shia LaBeouf-esque don’t let anyone keep you down “Just Do It” pep talk. The rest of the band couldn’t be faulted on enthusiasm either, with each band member a flurry of energy, which injected the set with a sense of urgency and life despite the sometimes dated sound of their brand of 80s skater thrash. Ending with ‘Pledge Your Allegiance’ the band seemed to have converted some new fans while some of us failed to be won over. As a support act, they we were good, a set just about saved by enthusiasm. We ended up even more excited for Slipknot thanks to Suicidal Tendencies one way or another.
After a brief interval, David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ blared from the PA and it was time for the main act. Following an intro of ‘Be Prepared For Hell’ accompanied by an eerie video of burning mannequins, at last the masked anti-heroes of the night, Slipknot, took to the stage. The intro tape stopped and Jim Root’s opening riff to ‘The Negative One’ marked the beginning of a relentless set. The last night of the tour, the band were running on all cylinders and determined to go out all guns blazing – and an almost sold out SSE arena matched them blow for blow. Treating us to new and old material alike the set was made up of numerous cuts from their recent album, ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’ and ‘Iowa’ – 2016 marks fifteen years since its release – as well as a few from the other albums in their back catalogue. Powering through songs like ‘Disasterpiece’ and ‘End of Everything’, against a backdrop of album covers and horror scenes involving maggots, sheep and pigs heads, the band waste no time in making up for their 14 year absence.
It’s hard to take in everything going on onstage, with 9 band members, rotating drum stands on either side of the stage, two guitarists relentlessly head banging and chugging out pummelling riff after riff, a drummer who must be part machine, and of course Sid who spends most of the show like a flea on speed. It’s to vocalist Corey Taylor’s credit that he commands stage presence like he does, given the madness around him. Just when it seemed like they had reached their peak songs like ‘Psychosocial’ and ‘Duality’, the big “hits” of the night, proved to be some of the highlights, with both being played at a furious pace, the riffs heavier than ever.
“You are fucking incredible god dammit”, Taylor remarks, obviously feeling the band’s energy reciprocated by the crowd. “Finally…Finally they let us back in” referring to the groups absence from these shores. As if ‘The Devil in I’ and ‘Metabolic’ didn’t leave us on enough of a high, the band returned to the stage for a 3 song encore beginning with ‘Surfacing,’ then ‘Left Behind’ and finishing with ‘Spit It Out.’ Leaving the best to last, Taylor asks, tells rather, the audience to sit down and “on my signal, unleash hell” and as the song builds to a climax, screams “jump the fuck up,” the entire arena launching to their feet was something to behold. Nearly twenty years after their formation, Slipknot proved not only why they’ve remained relevant for so long, but that they’re more relevant than ever and with a promise that they will return in future, they’ve made sure they’ll fill arenas again and again.