[a]Slipknot[/a]’s mere presence incites havoc at record store signings. Their records go in at number one. They sell out arena tours, and provoke outrage among politicians and parents’ associations. Basically, these nine masked men are bona fide superstars.
Tonight, 10,000 people have made the trip to Docklands Arena, one of London’s worst venues, to pay homage. Their devotion is absolute. [a]Slipknot[/a]T-shirts are everywhere, and some punters have even got the masks and boiler suits. When a screen bearing the band’s logo is lowered in front of the stage – a good half hour before stage time – a palpable wave of excitement passes through the auditorium. Groups of pre-teens start flinging plastic bottles at each other, until a voice over the PA warns them to calm down.
Well aware that most of their young fans are expecting the gig of their lives, [a]Slipknot[/a] initially play hard to get. For the duration of the chaotic opener ‘’, they remain hidden behind that screen, and the suspense ratchets up to fever pitch. When eventually the screen falls, fireworks explode and the band charge into a feral ‘People = Shit’, the cathartic rush is undeniable.
For the next hour, [a]Slipknot[/a] wage total sonic warfare. It’s fair to say that few bands – let alone popular bands – can match the sheer intensity and aggression of a [a]Slipknot[/a] performance.
But in a venue as vast and soulless as the Arena, something more than great music is required. And as you might expect, given their genius for gimmicks, lay on one hell of a spectacle tonight. Amid blinding strobes and clouds of dry ice, the nine band members get up to all sorts of capering. DJ Sid Wilson climbs a speaker stack, dives into the crowd, and then returns for a fistfight with Corey Taylor. Drummer Joey Jordison plays a lengthy solo as his kit is hoisted into the air and spun on its side. Clown appears to toss himself off. And all the while, flames shoot through the air and deafening ‘flash bombs’ are detonated.
At times it veers into pure pantomime, but [a]Slipknot[/a] never lose their air of menace, thanks to the unstinting ferocity of tracks like ‘Heretic Anthem’ and forthcoming single ‘My Plague’.
Ultimately, it’s obvious that [a]Slipknot[/a] are superstars for a good reason, and that their popularity will endure for a long time to come. Get used to it.