Cardiff International Arena
5 December 2008

Slipknot are a band that I always presumed took pride in being outside the normal commercial sphere of the rock business, a band that were rebellious, unruly and quite frankly in league with the devil. Having Iowa in my CD collection I had at least a passing acquaintance with their music and actually liked some of what I had heard, but unfortunately not enough to shell out the necessary £32.50 to see them live. However due to a benevolent gesture by a Bristolian friend I find myself at the CIA awaiting the arrival of Des Moines finest.
I had looked at reviews of previous gigs on their pan-Europe tour, to promote their latest offering “All Hope is Gone”, and was alarmed to find that every night the set list was effectively the same.  This I put down to the fact that they must have a gargantuan stage complete with interactive video and pyrotechnics, all beautifully choreographed to each number, that necessitated them regurgitating the same songs night after night.

Pic snwmclovin

On entering the venue I was struck by the sheer size (and cost!) of the merchandising stall and the variety and volume of available paraphernalia you could purchase bearing the Slipknot logo The audience was predominantly young and enthusiastic, although their did seem to be a fair sprinkling of older rockers, all eagerly awaiting the immanent arrival of this metal behemoth.  When the curtains opened, whilst there was a large, two tier stage resplendent with torches bearing the bands logo, other than the bands equipment there was very little else. No large video screens, no thirty foot models of Beelzebub belching fire, no dancing girls, in truth not much of anything. I was under whelmed. 
The show opened as it has done with all tour with “Surfacing”, and for the first (but most certainly not the last time tonight) we had the clown character being raised by pneumatics while banging away frantically on oil drums.  The band members prowled the stage whilst in n the background large plumes of fire shot skyward. All-in- all an impressive start. The set list then followed its predictable course with “The Blister Exists”, “Get This” and “Before I Forget”. The sound quality was poor (although this may have been the venues fault) and at times I found it difficult to differentiate the songs until they reached the chorus, however everyone was greeted with roars of approval, and devil s horns, from  the crowd.
By mid set I was getting pretty bored with the “flying clown and fire routine”, and was thinking that matters would be livened up if he strayed a bit too close to the naked flames and self combusted, however no such luck.  Given that they were promoting a new CD, it was odd that so few numbers came from the latest release, although they did play “Dead Memories” and then “Psychosocial” back to back, with the latter being a cracking track whatever genre of rock music you are into. However still no sign of anything unusual, as for the umpteenth time the Clown headed upwards into the rafters.  Then would come the moment that would define the band/evening for me…..

Pic : 'A Funny Kid With Green Pants'

During the song “Spit It Out” all their fans, or “maggots” as they refer to themselves, crouch on the floor awaiting the call of lead singer Corey “8” Taylor, to jump up and go bonkers. Now this was totally unknown to me and my Gashead mate, who suddenly found ourselves standing in what was reminiscent of a sea of midgets.  At first this was mildly amusing, looking around the huge expanse of the CIA to see only the odd person bewilderingly standing out (literally).  However after about ten seconds some of the audience seemed to take exception at our non-compliance and started throwing (thankfully empty) beer bottles at us. I presume they were not offering us refreshments, but wanted us also to bow down in a fundamentalist type way at the feet of the great god Slipknot. At this point I am sure that the spirit of Sid Vicious whispered in my ear to “fuck ‘em all!”, and therefore we stood tall revelling in our new found notoriety, as another bottle bounced off my cranium. I have always thought rock’n’roll was not about obeying orders, and at my time of life it’s hard to change old habits. Matters became even more complicated as a bottle hit one of the band, which got an abrupt and terse response from the lead singer with a threat of the band walking off, and so now members of the genuflexion audience turned on each other. Thankfully before civil war could break out the band gave the requisite signal, resumed the number, and everyone jumped up and matters carried on as per normal.
The tried and tested set-list resumed with the impressive “Duality” and finally “Only One”. The band returned for a rollicking version of “people = shit” and “Sic”, in which not only did the Clown make another journey into the stratosphere, but the drum kit (complete with drummer) rose above the audience, tipped forward and started revolving. With the last puff of flames they exited to the cheers of the adoring and unquestioning legion of fans.
In truth I enjoyed the gig, but let’s be straight about this Slipknot are a commercial machine that sells CD’s, T-shirts and concert tickets. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but please don’t anyone tell me that their fans are anymore rebellious, anarchic or insubordinate than those of say Westlife.