Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Saturday October 29, 2016 :
Two of the heavy music world’s heavyweights came together in a great double bill across Australia this week to the delight of tens of thousands of Aussie headbangers. I was pretty happy to see both Lamb of God and Slipknot on a joint bill. I have seen both bands live countless times, this was going to be the ninth time I would see Lamb of God onstage and the fifth time seeing Slipknot, and to have them sharing the stage together makes perfect sense.
I arrived at the venue early and caught up with a number of friends and fans, many obviously super excited about what was going to take place, myself included. Once inside it became clear very quickly that tonight’s show was far from a sell out. The bottom section of the elevated areas had been raised which was the case also last time Slipknot played in this venue (Possibly to help control fans sneaking down into the pit areas), the top section was also closed off with red curtains and the stage looks as if it was pushed up making it a smaller more intimate show for a venue which can hold over 20 thousand people. Tonight’s crowd was made up of approximately twelve thousand screaming, raging, excited fans and when the lights went out the fans sure as hell didn’t disappoint.
The night kicked off with Australia’s In Heart’s Wake, I know nothing about this band at all, but have heard the name thrown around over recent months quite a lot. I knew there was a few friends really happy to see them on the bill but I personally had no interest in heading inside early but it was clear these guys had a good amount of fans head in early to check them out. I took my seat just as Lamb of God hit the stage and honestly having seen these guys live so many times, I probably could have reviewed this one with my eyes closed.
Lamb of God hit the stage hard, the band were on fire, plenty of passion and enthusiasm front man Randy Blythe worked that stage like the crazy mother fucker that he is, never standing still. Willie, Mark and John all holding there respective onstage positions and rocking out like they do at every show I have witnessed in the past. The band’s set list was killer, but was too short…. I will never understand why anyone double bills two huge international bands gives one 2 hours and one 40 mins, it makes no sense.
It is here where I don’t win any fans – you could have left In Heart’s Wake off the bill and have giving Lamb of God an extra twenty minutes to play more tunes that many payers were there to hear… just my opinion. You don’t have to like it but that’s what it is!
Although the band were tight as fuck and killin’ it onstage sadly the sound let them down and it sure wasn’t one of those situation where the supports got crappy sound to make the headliner better believe me.
The vocals throughout the show were so low. Chris Adler’s drums were easily drowning them out, the mix was all over the place, muddy and quite disappointing. I thought this may have been just because of the angle on which I was viewing the show but speaking with others after the show, from the pit to the back centre of the venue, all had the same opinion. It sure won’t put me off from seeing them live again, to me these guys always give 100% onstage and the set-list although short was great, and include ‘512’, ‘Laid to Rest’, ‘Still Echoes’ and ‘Redneck’.
Being one of those “big vicious rock shows”, the floor was once again split into two sections. This is becoming more and more a common practice at heavy shows to not only control the crush that a large crowd can cause, but to also split those that are willing to pay those extra dollars to be that little bit closer to their favourite band, which is, well honestly, just fucking bullshit. What has happened to the days of paying 50 – 70 – 100 dollars to see your favourite band, and if you loved them that much you would get your way to the barrier.. not pay for the privilege to do so. Barrier 1, closet to the bands, had a great big circle pit that opened up nice and early for Lamb of God. Barrier 2 had 3 circles going at various points throughout the night, and sorry to say it but the fans in Barrier 2 kicked barrier 1’s ass in a huge way from where I was sitting!
The time had now come for Slipknot to hit the stage and there was going to be one massive notable void in tonight’s show. NO CLOWN… It was announced before the band’s Brisbane show that Clown had to rush back home to deal with a family emergency which we since have learned was the passing of his father in-law. I never realised just how much impact that one guy had in this band (his band) until tonight. You could certainly tell that his presence was missed not only onstage… And with such a massive Clown epidemic sweeping the globe right now, it kind of sucked to not see him up onstage being the sinister devil that he is. He certainly wanted the fans to know he would miss them though, and left his mask behind nicely propped up on his percussion riser for us all to see.
Paying tribute to a fallen, the crowd warmed up to David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ blaring over the PA before the lights fell and the mighty Slipknot hit the stage. After the boring video intro the band hit the stage with ‘The Negative One’, one of my favourite songs from The Gray Chapter, but the sound was just awful and all over the place, drums smashing through, then guitars that quite often sounded more like noise then anything else, all drowning out the usually incredible vocals that Taylor delivers.
I was hoping as the show went on that the sound issues would be nutted out but it just wasn’t the case. The sound was bouncing all over the place for the band’s entire set. The crowd for the most part didn’t seem to care though. Slipknot were onstage and no doubt for quite a few fans, they had been waiting a long time to see them, some for the very first time, and they were going to love this show no matter what. Being this was not my first Slipknot show, I had certainly seen the band perform a million times better during previous tours. The set was great, that I will not take away from them, they played a great collection of songs that covered all eras, some notable favourites were ‘Before I Forget’ ‘Left Behind’, ‘(Sic)’, ‘Surfacing’ and ‘The Heretic Anthem’. The crowd were going insane, a few fans in full slipknot costume certainly made there presence felt in the circle pits which was great to see!
The band…. well to me it looked like they all would have been happy to be just about anywhere else than on that stage! From talking with other fans after the show, it wasn’t just me that picked up on that vibe. I’m sure there was a few different factors playing into that – the band are on the end of a two year world tour and I’m sure that two years on the road is enough to kick anyone’s ass, not to mention Clown being delivered bad news and having to leave the tour, Corey had also just finished 18 songs for the next Stone Sour album and it was obvious that the chemistry onstage which I have seen in the past wasn’t even close tonight.
Jim and Mick didn’t really cross paths too much during the show which was a little disappointing, even Corey.. he only came to the right hand side of the stage 3 – 4 times in those two hours, Chris Fehn on the other hand was all over the place, playing his own role and belting away on Clown’s percussion set as well throughout the show.
The one member of the band I did notice tonight probably more than anyone else and certainly more than I have noticed on any other tour was Sid. This guy was a fucking machine tonight running around the place jumping off the raised stage down to his spot countless times and dancing away. The guy just didn’t stop. This was the first time I really noticed his presence within the band from all the different tours I have witnessed! Another bonus was the crowd sing-a-longs.. hearing a crowd belt out versus and choruses to the likes of ‘Wait and Bleed’ or ‘Duality’ is always awesome!
I was really surprised that the band didn’t use any pyrotechnics during the show as well. The last tour had flames, flash bombs going off all over the place. These were all replaced tonight by a huge video screen which at times showed some very cool visuals, at other times seemed like more of a distraction. Maybe it was just me but having seen Slipknot on three other tours over the years, I was really disappointed in tonight’s show when comparing it to those I have attended in the past. In saying that at one point in time I did turn around to see a young boy maybe 15 years old going fucking ballistic a few rows above me, no doubt seeing his favourite band and possibly his first ever concert experience, and for him I’m sure it was a mind blowing experience, one he will hold close and remember for many years to come. For me it just sadly won’t be one of those memorable shows.
At one point during the band’s performance, I couldn’t help but think to myself… “was I witnessing the end of what’s been an incredible ground-breaking career that has almost spanned twenty years?” The onstage chemistry and band interaction or lack of, to me was really painting a very different picture, sitting there “watching” the band rather than jumping around and head banging like a maniac, I really took a different view on the band tonight. I hope for us all it was just an off night and nothing more. I guess time will tell! Those attending the remaining Aussie shows will no doubt make up there own minds, I just hope as the shows roll on the sound issues and mix gets fixed up for a more enjoyable concert experience!
Lamb of God’s Set-List: Walk with me in Hell · Ruin · 512 · Engage the fear machine · Blackened the cursed sun · Still echoes · Laid to rest · Redneck
Slipknot’s Set-List: The negative One · Disasterpiece · Eyeless · Before I Forget · The Shape · Killpop · Dead Memories · The Heretic Anthem · Psychosocial · Left Behind · Custer · The Devil In I · Skin Ticket · Wait and Bleed · (Sic) · Surfacing · Duality · Spit it Out
LAMB OF GOD
IN HEART’S WAKE