Review contributed by Cassandra Hale
As the lights went down at Rod Laver Arena for the first time on this Halloween night, you could almost mistakenly think you were at the wrong venue. The theme from Wide World of Sports rang through the air, followed by 5 clean-cut young men wearing cricket whites taking the stage. After delivering a few balls into the crowd and taking a few catches they then smashed out a short show that set the tone for the nights events to follow. This terrific young Australian band, In Hearts Wake, formed in Bryon Bay in 2006 were very well received by the ever growing crowd. As Earthwalker rang out they had a captivated audience that were jumping and fist pumping with fury. The bass player Kyle used his clean vocals well against the dirty sounds of Jake, it kept the boys well balanced throughout the set. I look forward to seeing big things from In Hearts Wake, and getting a support gig with Lamb of God and Slipknot is a feather in their cap, or as tonights show would have it, in their Baggy Green.
Now for the assault on my senses, at the hands of Lamb of God! The onslaught of brutal double bassing from Chris Adler had to be seen to be believed, but you could feel it in every part of your body, the relentless thrashing of these polished performers came with the chance of bursting an ear drum of two. Thankfully I had my ear plugs on board and whilst I have been labelled as ‘weak’ for using them I do value being able to hear the next day. They performed a set of eight songs and the crowd was glued to them for its entirety. It only took the first song for a circle pit to form and the moshing to begin. I think it’s safe to say when the effect of the alcohol wears off there will be a few people booking appointments with the chiropractor! Randy Blythe was sporting a knee support, but this did not stop him from taking huge jumps off his riser and not missing a beat in the process. As the first notes of Laid to Rest broke out the mass of fans in the circle were running so fast that I genuinely felt for their safety. I have been at many heavy metal gigs over the years but have never seen such a brutal force as I did last night. All hell broke loose as Redneck rang out. The bass player John Campbell who looks remarkably like Saruman from Lord of the Rings, showed that the bass guitar is not an instrument to be stuck up the back. It was safe to say that by the time Lamb of God finished everyone was in need of a good rest and a little recovery time.
The feeling was one of anticipation and electricity all wrapped into one, and as the lights dimmed for the third and final time of the night, the hairs on my arms started to raise and I felt a strange sensation spread across my back. It was then that I realised that the ‘wonderful’ woman behind me had spilt her drink all over me, not the greatest start to a show but we mopped it up and moved on, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. So for the rest of the night my leather jacket stuck to my chair every time I moved, but such is life, on with the show, and what a show it was!
The floor was packed like sardines and you could not have got another body in there even with the aid of a shoe horn. David Bowie‘s unmistakable voice singing Fashion filtered across the arena, a very fitting tribute to the great man. The Negative One set the tone for the night and the madness took over from then on. While being known as a highly opinionated and outspoken person, this was a side of Corey Taylor that did not surface tonight. He was purely there to entertain and engage with the Slipknot fans and that was exactly what he did. Slipknots Halloween show in Melbourne was purely about giving its legion of loyal fans the show of their life. Taylor was what I would class as the master puppeteer and the army of fans his puppets; they jumped, sang and sat down on his command. He was totally mesmerising and the fans lapped up every minute, his love of his fans was heartfelt and he made it known on several occasions during the show how important they all are. This is Slipknots first time out of America for Halloween, another notch in Melbourne’s belt, but then again we really are the home of heavy metal in Australia.
While Shawn Crahan aka ‘Clown’ had to make a swift retreat to America due to a family emergency, the show must go on. Chris Fehn filled in all the gaps, swapping from drum riser to drum riser with ease, keeping everybody enthralled with his antics. You would never have known that Corey Taylor performed with his neck brace under his costume. This did not slow him down or hinder his performance as he still gave it everything and more, although I think he will be going in search of some Soothers after the work out he gave his voice!
The band performed all their hits such as Eyeless, Before I Forget, Psychosocial and The Devil in I keeping the masses screaming for more. While I don’t believe the mosh to be as crazy as it was for Lamb of God it was almost as if the crowd became one and moved together like a silent agreement has been made. It was definitely one of the most intense gigs I have ever been to and it was amazing to be part of the absolute devotion these fans have for their idols. After a thunderous applause and screams for more the band returned for a final three songs, Surfacing, my favourite Duality and Spit it Out, it was then that I saw one of the most amazing things I have ever seen at a gig. The whole floor over the space of 30 seconds sat down, I felt like I was back at school and sitting on the mat in front of the teacher, but this time the teacher was Corey Taylor and Rod Laver Arena was our classroom. The fans knew the drill and on Taylor’s command to JUMP THE FUCK UP, they did indeed jump up to thunderous fist pumping and bouncing that could be felt throughout the arena. Truly a spectacle to behold. With a last shout out to In Hearts Wake and Lamb of God, the Slipknot boys said their goodbyes amongst promises to return.
As the flock of black t-shirts and battle jackets filed out of the arena the consensus was clear, an amazing brutal night was had by all. Everyone was spent and in need of sleep, but they would do it all again of they had the chance.
The tour now heads to South Australia and then on the Perth to complete the final leg of the Australian tour.