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[LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS] SLIPKNOT, Lamb of God and In Hearts Wake, Brisbane

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I don’t know about you, but my barometer for a live performance is usually gauged by the drum sound. For some reason, if they get that right from the onset, everything else seems to build around that. From the first boom of the bass drum filtering through the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and the first snap of the snare drum cracking through the air, it was clear tonight was going to be something special.

Byron Bay’s, In Hearts Wake, had the unenviable task of appeasing Slipknot’s maggots first up and from the moment frontman Jake Taylor introduced the band and proudly proclaimed “we’re very happy to be here representing Australian heavy metal. Let’s show Lamb of God and Slipknot what we’ve got Brisbane”, it was obvious they weren’t here to simply make up numbers.

Blasting through material from their three albums, In Hearts Wake lived up to their promise of flying the flag for our country with a tight and energetic set that saw the night’s first rumblings of a moshpit grow as the set went on. The boys proved that not only are they at home on a big stage amongst the heavyweights of the music scene; they also belong there.

It’s been six years since Lamb of God last played the BEC supporting Metallica and vocalist Randy Blythe quickly let the growing crowd know they were excited to be once again supporting another of metals big hitters. The band quickly set about whipping the crowd into a frenzy, encouraging circle pits and mayhem with a ferocious set that set the bar for the incoming Slipknot to the maximum level.

Mark Morton and Willie Adler’s guitar playing laid the foundations of a massive sound, while Chris Adler smashed the drums as if they had stolen from him.

Racing through a selection of hits including Still Echoes, and Laid to Rest, Lamb Of God were once again the perfect appetiser to the main course and did their reputation no harm with a blisteringly tight set that finished with Redneck and a circle pit that took up almost the entire first-floor section.

Slipknot, of course, was the band that everyone was here to see and it was reflective of their dominance of heavy metal for so long that the demographic of fans ranged from pre-teen children to the elderly, with the Slipknot army showing up in numbers to show their generals their presence has been missed.

With their usual pre-show theatrics, this time consisting of a large screen behind stage depicting various stages of burning mannequins, slowly building momentum and anticipation with the crowd, Slipknot moved through the shadows and onto the stage one by one, silhouetted and silent before the lights came on and the band launched into The Negative One from latest album “.5: The Gray Chapter””. Tearing through Disasterpieces and Eyeless while the crowd was still catching their breath, Slipknot seemed a little light on in the personnel department, with Clown’s percussion station being void of action aside from a strategically placed mask which bobbed up and down in time to the sporadic movements of the drum riser.

It wasn’t until after Eyeless that vocalist Corey Taylor addressed the crowd and explained the absence of one of the bands more popular members. Unfortunately Clown was forced to return to the bands hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, for a family emergency, and although his presence, in particular his backing vocals and well timed strikes of the beer kegs with his baseball bat – especially in Duality – Slipknot proved (as Clown had told me in a previous interview) that they were a band who is the sum of all parts and not wholly reliant on the contribution of one member.

That said, when Corey implored the crowd to “make so much noise Clown can hear you back in Iowa” before launching into Before I Forget, they complied obediently and the deafening roar of the crowd singing along and paying their respects was one of the highlights of a night filled with them.

Taylor, who has recently had back surgery to repair serious damage, paced the stage like a caged animal, obediently catering to the restrictions forced upon him but threatening at any time to explode, while new members Alessandro Venturella on bass and Jay Weinberg on drums have finally settled into their positions after a couple of years finding their feet.

The last time I saw Slipknot with the two fresh faces was at Soundwave in 2015, and they were still a little tentative standoffish with the crowd which was understandable given the amount of respect and adulation laid upon the two men whose positions they filled.

For just under two hours Slipknot proved emphatically why they are the leaders of the metal movement with a show that oozed as much professionalism as it did entertainment.

With a large back catalogue of hits to choose from, the band played songs from each album, with The Heretic Anthem, Psychosocial and Wait and Bleed among the crowd favourites.

Taylor is one of the most talented and enigmatic vocalists doing the rounds and his ability to engage every section of the crowd, combined with his unrelenting need to satisfy the audience held the fans in the palm of his fist and refused to let go until the three-pronged encore attack of Surfacing, Duality and now compulsory closer complete with the infamous finale of Spit It Out.

Slipknot proved once again that they are a musical force to be reckoned with, even minus one member, and although it is unclear whether Clown will return for the remainder of their Australian tour don’t let that put you off.

It is true that Slipknot as an eighteen legged juggernaut is better, but the rest of the band know how to step it up and cover for their absent comrade and still put on a show equal to, if not better than anything else out there.

Photography by Andrew Treadwell

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