The biggest show on Earth?
Perhaps not, but after an evening with the SLIPKNOT circus, you’re tempted to say that what they have on offer is pretty f*cking close.
The first time I saw Slipknot, was at the Dynamo festival in the Netherlands in 1999. I’d seen pictures of the masked clowns, but I hadn’t heard a note of their music. I thought they’d sound like the Finnish monster rockers Lordi (who would eventually go on to take part in the European Song Contest) or KISS or something. As my mate Benny and I entered the festival grounds at Nijmegen, we certainly realised that this didn’t sound remotely like Lordi. It was mayhem.
The area in front of the stage was one big chaos. Dust and people everywhere. The stage was basically the same. The two percussionists were fighting. Literally, it would seem. The entire band was all over the place. Madness.
When you see Slipknot today, twenty years later, the madness is different. The show is no less impressive, but it is exactly that: A show. The wild edge of youth is gone, the madness is controlled, timed and professional.
And it’s OK. After twenty years, you have to be professional, and you have to make sure that you deliver everytime and that you’ll still be able to walk the day after. Because the next city or festival awaits. Even if you fly a private jet, that’s hard – especially if you have to wear those uncomfortable masks every bloody night!
The uncomfortable masks is probably one of the reasons why Slipknot still come across as extreme as they do. There is that element of feeling uncomfortable or pain, which gives the whole show an edge you don’t find in a Napalm Death show, even if the music is more extreme.
Anyhoo, “People = Shit” starts off the whole sha-bang, and as you can see from the setlist below, Slipknot takes us through a varied catalogue of bursts of energy and melodic masterpieces like “Psychosocial” (my personal favourite) and “The Devil In I”, and the foot basically rests on the pedal during the entire concert, except a couple of breathers where Corey Taylor addresses the audience.
They are needed breathers because the field in front of the stage is packed and less chaotic and dusty than what Benny and I experience those twenty years ago. Only difference is that that time, there are more songs in repertoire and we know very well what Slipknot stand for. Mayhem and…well, one of the biggest rock shows on the planet.
1. People = Shit
3. Get This
6. Before I Forget
7. The Heretic Anthem
9. The Devil in I
14. All Out Life
16. Spit It Out