Slipknot / Korn

Air Canada Centre, Toronto ON, November 30

Slipknot / KornAir Canada Centre, Toronto ON, November 30
Photo: Stephen McGill
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Slow doors, as well as the slightly muddy and inconsistent sound, proved to be an issue for lone support act Korn, but they weren't the only difficulties faced by Jonathan Davis and co., whose songs just sound dated in 2014. The set found Korn focusing on material from 2005 and prior, especially their first two albums, with only a couple of The Paradigm Shift tracks representing this decade.

The confidence with which vocalist Davis still performs with his erotic Giger-made micstand is noteworthy; his voice held up, but his movements were awkward, which was the case during his scat bit in "Freak on a Leash." As the singer bounced back and forth with bassist Fieldy, half-lunging at one another, the two seemed to be replaying that awkward moment where two courteous passersby both try to sidestep, only to find themselves in the same position they were a second prior. The ultimate representation of their set came when drummer Ray Luzier threw a stick high up in the air but failed to catch it on its way down; the effort was there but the theatrics ultimately felt a bit like a swing and a miss.

After a changeover, the Voliminal nine — now technically down to seven official members but filled out by two other more than capable live performers — took the stage behind a curtain, while the opener to their latest album, .5: The Gray Chapter, played over the speakers. The veil was lifted after "XIX" segued into "Sarcastrophe" to an enthusiastic welcome for the masked men of Slipknot. Vocalist Corey Taylor demanded the crowd to "get your devil horns up in the fucking air," which was all too appropriate considering the massive demon head centred behind the band.

Launching into "The Heretic Anthem" awash in ominous red lights only furthered the suitability of the request; the band's sinister masks earned them their title as the "666" to everyone else's "555." After a performance of another Iowa standout, "My Plague," the Iowans insisted, "We are all from fucking Toronto tonight," saying it was an honour and privilege to be back in Canada and acknowledging it had been a long time since the 'Knot had made the journey north of the border. Taylor promised tonight would make up for their absence before launching into a salvo of recent tracks: "The Devil in I," "Psychosocial" and the first taste fans got of their latest album, "The Negative One."

A few songs later (one of which was the masterful "Disasterpiece"), Taylor walked to the side of the stage after saying he had something to show the crowd. He returned with a gold record plaque for .5: The Gray Chapter and gratefully informed the audience that Canada holds the distinction of being the first country where the album got such an award. That triumphant spirit was carried into the anthemic "Before I Forget," during which warm (and loud) crowd reaction was matched by appropriately timed pyrotechnics.

"The Blister Exists" climaxed with the two percussionists taking marching snares atop the aforementioned platform as their beats coalesced with the drummer's. As is tradition, Taylor insisted that the audience crouch for the start of "Spit It Out," whether they had been with the band for 15 years or just the last 55 minutes, and "jump the fuck up" at his invitation, which they did. "Custer" closed the main body of the performance, before a brief exodus from the stage ended with an encore of "(sic)," the crushing "People = Shit" and "the national fucking anthem," also known as "Surfacing."

Despite an expansive light show, pyrotechnics, spinning percussion risers and other flashy flourishes, the most impressive thing about Slipknot's performance was that they managed to keep the focus on the songs and the nine members in front of the display rather than what was going on behind them. Discharged drummer Joey Jordison would be jealous and deceased bassist Paul Gray would be proud of the mastery with which the group commanded the massive stage and expectations they had to fulfill.

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