Thanks to BT, performance footage of Slipknot's headlining show at this years Sonisphere festival was available through a live stream. And thank goodness it was, for the show was an absolute phenomenon. It was, in fact a privilege to watch. Unfortunately things for me did not go off to a flying start. Technical problems, at least on my computer meant the stream would not start straight away, which seems to have come at the cost of missing my favourite 'Knot song, "(sic)". A song I love so much, I wrote into K! about why I loved it so much, to which they then printed my words, thus giving me that extra bit of inspiration to start this blog.
However, when the stream did begin to work, it was in the middle of "Wait and Bleed" which was being performed flawlessly. Their past shows have been focusing particularly on their older material, which is emphasized by their wearing of the masks and red jumpsuits that graced the cover of their 1999 self titled debut. For this reason, Corey Taylor's deep screams from "All Hope is Gone" that I've come to get used to have been dropped for now, Corey instead using his wild screams from 1999 as well. The song itself and every other song on the set is played with the passion and intensity of every Slipknot performance I've ever seen. The band become particularly focused for the following performance of "The Blister Exists" but with enough room for some epic headbanging and snare drum battles between Shaun Crahan and Chris Fehn.
As always Corey is incredibly engaging with the masses watching and gains huge cheers, stating "This is not a night for negativity, this is a night for positivity! This is a fucking celebration!", which makes the following transition into "Liberate" all the more perfect. Following that, the crowd and I, watching in a Copenhagen hotel room, scream the word "I" at the very top of our lungs, during "Before I Forget".
The crowd even participate on the spoken intro of "Pulse of the Maggots", a performance in which Corey increases the sheer raw power of his vocals, with a little help from Chris. We also manage to see James Root and Mick Thompson unleash sheer insanity through the screaming of guitars.
A chilling interlude featuring the samples of a young girl speaking mixed with the outro tho the bands 1999 track "Tattered and Torn" whilst Corey and DJ, Sid Wilson can be seen hugging each other onstage is a sure sign that it is time for some more older hits from the band and sure enough, the interlude dillusionally transcends into "Purity". Immediately following, "Left Behind" gives James more of a chance to show off his enviously skillful guitar work, which is seen also on the following performance of "Disasterpeice", which also features sampling and scratching from Sid which can only be described as "bizarrely amazing". The performance also saw Shaun screaming into Corey's ear, which I found hilarious. Next up is "Phsycosocial", where I get a real opportunity to marvel at Joey Jordison's wild drumming skills, mixed with Chris' constant tapping of a steel barrel with as baseball bat, as well as Mick's soulful guitar solo. The crowd and I, once again scream our lungs out during "The Heretic Anthem", the phrase "If you're 555 then I'm 666" spewing out of our mouths.
Following this performance, Corey addresses the crowds thanking them for their silence at 2PM for their fallen friend and bandmate, Paul Gray who was found dead last May following an accidental overdose. "He is always here with this band", Corey announced "and he is here with you today with each and every one of you. Can you fucking feel him?" After a resounding amount of cheers, the band start up their absolutely flawless performance of "Duality".
A rare performance of their 1999 track "Only One" then appears, which Corey refers to as a "fucking surprise". He shows Knebworth that he still has his nice Nu Metal rapping skills, which have not been touched since 1999. The song's crazy sample filled bridge is replaced with the crowd simply screaming out "Slipknot" before they slam the track back into power.
The finale of the set is "Spit it Out", complete with the traditional "Crazy Test" in which the audience all get down on the ground, and when Corey says "Jump the fuck up!" Jump as high as they possibly can and - well - go crazy. It is the perfect show closer, but obviously not the real one. After a lengthy wait, the band return for an encore, in which they perform "People = Shit", a performance I can only describe as being "Built of pure awesomeness." and ending with a perfect rendition of "Surfacing", the crowd all screaming "Fuck it all! Fuck this world! Fuck everything that you stand for!" complete with middle fingers in the air. This is the perfect song to end the show.
However, in the final moments of the show, the band pay a final emotional tribute to Paul Gray, by positioning his 1999 pig mask, red jumpsuit and his bass guitar in the centre of the stage, thus representing Paul, each member says their goodbye to their former bandmate and brother, Joey's goodbye particularly emotional as he hugs the suit and begins sobbing his eyes out, and invite touring bassist and original band member, Donnie Steel onto stage, where he had previously not been playing, all whilst the band's beautiful acoustic ballad "'Til We Die" plays in the background. The crowd and myself, crying and cheering for the band and their skill and their courage to overcome their fear of living and playing without Paul, it is a beautiful moment to watch.
Overall, the set was just phenomenal, perhaps even better than their set at Download in 2009. The songs were performed with utter perfection and many sound as fresh today as they did ten years ago. With the devotion, skill, passion and determination with which Slipknot play, I just know that from somewhere, Paul Gray is looking down on his eight brothers, with a big smile on his face and an overwhelming sense of pride for what his brothers are capable of.