Last night, Newcastle’s Utililta Arena was taken over by 9 piece metal band, Slipknot. And I was there.
For anyone that knows me, this might seem strange, as I’m unashamedly a huge fan of artists such as Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, and in general more pop and R&B focussed artists. So, I was pretty out of my depth last night when my boyfriend and I went to see one of the US’s most well known bands for being, well, a bit crazy.
As we got to the arena we were greeted with the usual security checks, as should be, and as we walked in I couldn’t help but notice that there was an abundance of the crowd dressed in almost all black. A staple but practical colour for metal gigs to be honest.
Supporting Slipknot were Polish band Behemoth, who I had been warned by my boyfriend (adorning their T-shirt) were even heavier and harder than Slipknot themselves. To say the least, he wasn’t wrong. Behemoth came crashing onto the stage with a Satanic style set design, from their logo hanging above them, to the costumes and, of course, the screaming/ shouty/ deep voiced vocal sound that could only belong to a blackened death metal band. I couldn’t understand any of the words they were singing, but they had clearly well established their niche and they worked the crowd up fantastically. Well done, boys.
During the interval, I tried to battle my way through the crowd to reach the toilet. Although the corridors at Newcastle arena are pitifully small, I couldn’t help but think it was the slowest moving crowd to wonder between their seats and the foyer area that I’d met at the arena. Maybe everyone was saving their energy for some serious head banging, or maybe their metal trimmed boots were too heavy to walk in. Either way, the whole crowd were pretty chill and everyone seemed excited.
After arriving back at my seat safely after wading through a stream of pints of beer and leather jackets, the lights went down and the audience were here.for.it.
I put in the ear plugs that Andy had given me earlier, with the wise advice that it would take the edge of any hissy noises and save us from getting bad tinnitus. Thank goth heaven, he wasn’t wrong.
As Slipknot one by one took to the floor and unveiled their incredible set design, I couldn’t not be impressed by the elaborate, huge stage. Lit all in blue and featuring a deep floor space, with industrial inspired podiums for the drummers and a treadmill for the guitarists to move back and forth on, it was definitely one of the best stage designs I’ve seen a band use.
As they all started to hype up the crowd with atmospheric keyboard and electric guitar riffs, lead singer Corey Taylor began belting out their first song of the night, Unsainted.
One of the first things I noticed about the show was how intensely happy all of the audience were. The second was how glad I was that I bought us seated tickets instead of standing. Even though the band surely do put on a great show, I spent half of the night crowd watching as a sea of Slipknot T-shirt wearing rockers moshed out to the music. Creating a sweaty, high energy formation of movement and circles throughout the main event. I was genuinely impressed at the fans ability to enjoy themselves while essentially pushing each other around. Though I was surprised that none of the mosh pits I saw were extremely violent, in fact a lot of them were just men running around in circles while someone stood in the middle doing a jig. There were also countless numbers of crowd surfers, and some awkwardly attempted crowd surfers, that rode their way through the arms of other moshers to the front of the stage, where they were quickly plucked out and escorted away by security.
I was also happily surprised at the fact that, actually, the bands lead singer has a fantastic singing voice when he’s not shouting. I’d always associated Corey Taylor with the line of metal bands that mainly use angry and suspenseful noises to create their music, and hadn’t actually appreciated until last night that Corey, and the whole band, are in fact very, very talented. And they’d have to be, considering that Slipknot have now been going for 20 years.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about the night was how genuinely appreciative the band were of the fans. They noted on at least 3 separate occasions how much they loved and are thankful for their fans, and passionately talked about them as family.
Throughout the whole setlist, I knew two of their songs, which is more than I thought I would. But it didn’t really matter because the stage presence and performance value of each of the bands 9 members was fascinating. From Corey’s intense front of stage singing and crowd interaction, to the drummers and guitarists wondering around the rig like creatures from a horror movie, it was great to watch. Of course with the band members each wearing their iconic and eerie style masks, it only added the metalness of their, well, metal performance.
It wasn’t my scene, it wasn’t my music, and you will never, ever catch me in a mosh pit, but I was never bored and left the venue happy to have seen Slipknot live. In fact, I really enjoyed the whole night and left with a much deeper appreciation for them as performers, and as a band who has had a clearly profound influence on the rock and metal music scene. Cheers for a great show, guys!