Guess who I went to see this week…..
I’ve been waiting 13 years to see Korn, and it was definitely worth the wait. The played main support to this other little band Slipknot, don’t know if you know them. The lead singer sometimes looks like this….
But more recently looks like this…
They are two bands that helped to define the soundtrack to my teens and early 20s. This was also the biggest gig I’ve ever been to.
It was at the Manchester Evening News Arena and, I’ve got to say, the simple size of the place took my breath away. I didn’t really look at the size of the building before we went in. We got there early and spent some time looking at the overpriced merch and drinking overpriced beer first, then made our way to the door with the ‘Standing’ sign over it. The guy checked our tickets and told us to go straight down the stairs and onto the floor. Now, I’ve never been in an arena before, I was expecting to go down a staircase and come out of a door onto the floor. Nope. When the guys in front of me moved away I saw that I was standing at the top of the arena facing the stage and I felt like I was on top of the world. Hundreds of people were already on the floor, with a seemingly unending amount more pouring in from all sides. I had to hold the rail for a minute to get my bearings, the whole world had seemed to tilt for a second and I was sure I was going to tumble all the way down the steep, steep stairs.
Something you should know about me, I don’t like big things. Looking up at really tall trees, or skyscrapers makes me dizzy, and I hate being in big caves or standing next to those huge cruise ships, it turns my stomach.
When I first looked at the view in front of me; at all the people swarming in, the sheer size of the room, my vision wavered for a second, but then I saw clearer than I ever have. This was the most people I had ever seen gathered in one room. And all for the same reason, to see two bands that changed the face of music: The gods of nu-metal (in my opinion at least).
I slowly made my way down the unnecessarily steep stairs. When I reached the floor I turned to see where I had come from, the stairs seemed longer than they had walking down them and looking from the bottom up made my stomach do a backflip. I was at the bottom of a huge bowl, that was slowly filling up with all the kinds of people your mother warned you about. There were punks, Goths, rockers, metal heads, old bald bikers and young scantily clad women folk with pins through their faces. It felt like coming home.
The first band, King 810, came on with the arena still filling up. Now, I’m not too familiar with King 810; I only really knew one of their songs before the gig. The first song they played reminded me of a Tim Burton movie with a Danny Elfman soundtrack. They played the one song of theirs that I know as the encore, of course. The majority of the audience seemed to listen with polite curiosity, with only the front few rows really seeming to enjoy them. I felt like the lead singer, David Gunn, didn’t really connect with the crowd, but I can understand his nerves; this tour is probably the biggest gig they’ve played.
Before Korn we went to get more overpriced beer and came back in to an almost full arena. The lights went down and for a second it was almost quiet, then the intro started. We fought our way through the crowd to the middle, close enough to see but far enough away so as not to get caught in the moshpits. As soon as Jonathan Davis walked on stage and started singing ‘Twist’ I felt 15 again. Memories I hadn’t thought of in years came flooding back, my first house party, discovering all the different places that would become our teenage hangout spots; all those places that adults don’t even think about until they see kids hanging out there. It almost felt wrong that my old gang weren’t there with me, but, like we all do eventually, we have grown up and grown apart.
The crowd was a lot livelier during Korn, not to mention a lot louder, and when Jonathan Davis came out midway through with his bagpipes, I honestly thought the noise was going to rip the roof off. Like I said, this was the biggest gig I have ever been to, so I didn’t get how much louder a crowd this size can be. They played all the songs I’ve been listening to for over a decade, and seeing as how Korn has been around for 20 years, I felt very privileged to hear this particular collection. When they ended with ‘Blind’, the song that started it all, the noise doubled and I almost felt I could die happy. (If I could have tweaked the set list just a little, I would have added ‘Coming Undone’ but that’s just me.)
By the time Slipknot came on there was barely any empty space on the floor, and the only empty seats I could see were way up at the top. The whole arena was on their feet by the time the intro finished and ‘Sarcastrophe’ started and we were so much closer to the front. A moshpit formed around us which forced us slightly further back. This being the first time seeing Slipknot live, I was slightly taken aback with how tiny Corey Taylor seems standing next the likes of Jim Root and Mick Thompson. They were everything I hoped they would be, even down to the unnecessary pyrotechnics. The whole band was so full of energy and they seemed to energize the crowd with it.
When they played ‘Left Behind’ I was back to being 14, sitting in my parent’s bedroom watching music channels on the old Nynex box. By that point in my life the heaviest music I had experienced was Meatloaf and turning on the TV that day changed my life. It was the summer holidays in 2001 and I had nothing better to do than sit in and watch TV, I turned it on and ‘Crawling’ by Linkin Park came on, followed directly by ‘Left Behind.’ I wasn’t aware then how much that music was going to influence my life, but now at the age of 27 I can confidently state, Rock and Metal have defined me.
After ‘Spit It Out’ we all sang Happy Birthday to the tiny, bouncy Sid when Korn brought out his Birthday cake and proceeded to rub his face in it, I would expect nothing less. The next song was ‘Custer’ and I knew it was going to be mental. We had moved to the back by that point because of two idiot women who kept trying to create a two woman moshpit, but got shitty with anyone bumping into them. The highlight of the set for me was definitely ‘People = Shit’. You haven’t experienced unity until you witness 17000+ people of all ages, races, creeds and colours shouting “People = Shit” at 9 men in masks, and seeing the joy on their faces.
Like I said, this was the biggest gig I have ever been to and even almost a week later my hearing still hasn’t fully recovered, but I think I can honestly say that this gig has affected my life in the same way that stumbling onto Metal did way back in 2001.