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[Review] Corey Taylor @ Metro Theatre, Sydney 28.11.2023

As a millennial Metalhead, few artists have been as prominent in my heavy music journey as Corey Taylor. Whether you know him as number eight the masked madman in Slipknot, the charismatic unmasked frontman of Stone Sour, affectionately as ‘The Neck,’ or the constant query in headlines and comment sections – ‘but what does Corey Taylor think?’ – his impact on the music world is undeniable. Tonight, we are lucky to see him stripped back, in an intimate setting performing a little taste of everything he’s ever been a part of ahead of his appearance at Good Things Festival.

Tonight, Taylor is backed by Clay J Gladstone, a regular on Sydney’s local AM//PM club circuit, delivering a punk rock emo fusion. Described on their Triple J Unearthed profile as a must-listen for fans of Violent Soho, The Used, and Stand Atlantic, Clay J Gladstone captivates audiences with their ‘heart on sleeve’ lyrics, emotive earworm bangers, and intense performances. Corey himself, recounting on stage, bestowed significant praise upon Clay J Gladstone, noting that while every potential support band that came his way was rubbish, Clay J had something truly special. You can’t get much more praise than that!

Not the weeknight or the pouring rain outside could dampen the energy of the jam-packed, sold-out show at Sydney’s Metro Theatre tonight. The anticipation is intense as “Corey! Corey!” chants begin before the house music fades away – this crowd is ready, unwilling to wait a second longer.

The band takes the stage first, launching into an auditory onslaught with precision. Mr. Taylor himself bounds on stage shortly after dressed in a suit jacket, kicking off Post Traumatic Blues from his latest solo album, CMF2. All five band members sport smiles by the end of the first song, clearly bewildered by the enthusiastic reception from the Sydney crowd. The time machine then transports us back to 2002 with a Stone Sour deep cut, Tumult. Since the inaugural Good Things Festival in 2018, Australia hasn’t witnessed Stone Sour live, making the revival of these songs nostalgic as many of us thought we wouldn’t hear them again!

While our love for Corey’s bands is undeniable, we are here to see him on his solo run. Strapping on a guitar he kicks off Black Eyes Blue which is such a beautifully crafted song bordering on ballad which had the crowd singing in unison. To everyone’s delight, they pull out a song for the couples (and bromances) in the form of Song #3 by Stone Sour. I wasn’t sure if he was being serious when he asked, ‘I hope you remember this one’. Multiple members of the crowd drape their arms around a loved one and sing it loud! I cannot wipe the smile off my face seeing Corey so comfortable on stage, his smile stretches ear to ear, interacting with his band members who all share the same energy and happiness.

In a brief break to chat with the crowd, Corey teases, saying “before I forget,” prompting a roaring response. Playing along, he asks if he’s missed something, building anticipation. After some playful banter, he declares, Before I Forget as the next song. Having seen Slipknot twice this year at Knotfest in Sydney and Download Festival UK, experiencing Corey sing this iconic track unmasked in an intimate 1,000-pack venue is unbelievably special.

There are few songs that artists turn their nose up at and flip off the crowd but that’s exactly what Corey does before dropping his head and giving into the peer pressure to play the Spongebob Squarepants theme. Quickly shortening the rendition, before asking if he can sing a song he actually enjoys playing, emotions were immediately switched on and turned to tears, to the sounds of the Slipknot heartbreaker Snuff.

The hits keep on coming, such as 30/30-150 and Through the Glass by Stone Sour, Midnight and Beyond from his solo work, it’s incredible that each projects songs are easily distinguishable. Usually when you have the same vocalist, they can be similar in style, although each are expertly crafted offering something different. The onstage chemistry between Corey and guitarist Christian Martucci is mesmerizing. Christian, who permanently joined Stone Sour in 2014 as Jim Root’s replacement, exhibits a seasoned partnership with Corey matching energy, bouncing off each other all night, Taylor even changes lyrics to praise his buddy.

After a brief intermission, the band returns for the encore. The unmistakable riff of Duality by Slipknot fills the room, as the venue begins to shake. Despite having just four members on stage, their performance echoes the intensity of the full nine (minus the keg). The night concludes on a high note with a cover of INXS’s Don’t Change, a choice Corey hopes won’t be considered meandering, expressing his love for the Australian band.

The sweaty, happy crowd pour out of the venue all raving on about a different part of the set which was their personal highlight. Collectively we know we witnessed something special tonight, treated to almost flawless renditions of songs we’ve cherished for over two decades. Corey was incredibly heartfelt with his thankyous, telling us that the reception he continues to receive is the reason why we are one of his favourite destinations on earth to tour.

Tonight’s performance was the first of 4 in Australia and if you are heading to Good Things over the weekend, catching Corey Taylor and co is a MUST. You will not be disappointed! I will be speaking about this show for a very long time.

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