LIVE: Slipknot @ FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield

By Tom Walsh

“Sheffield, where have you been all my life?”, bellows a beaming Corey Taylor. The kings of modern metal are back on English soil, and in rapturous form.

Everyone remembers their first Slipknot gig. Whether you were there in the chaos of the Astoria in ‘99, the seminal London Arena show in ‘02, their long-awaited Download Festival headlining performance in ‘09, or you’re taking your kids this very evening – everyone remembers their first encounter with the Iowan nontet.

As Taylor likes to reiterate, each show is a chance to reconnect with the maggots that make up his “family”. In the midst of carnage, bruising mosh pits and reckless stage-diving, each show carries with it an overwhelming sense of togetherness. Whether that’s between band and fans, or simply fellow fans, each time Slipknot visit these isles it feels almost like a spiritual event.

Armed with a critically-acclaimed new album, ‘We Are Not Your Kind’, the metal gods have not dropped a beat when it comes to live performance. The newer material brings an extra theatrical element to the party, and the choral introduction of ‘Unsainted’ echoes around the arena before everything, quite literally, explodes into life.

Taylor forever plays the role of conductor to his massed ranks while percussionist Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan, looking svelte in a shirt and blazer, sways around his podium with the air and grace of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. There’s also the new addition of ‘Tortilla Man’, replacing the fired Chris Fehn, who essentially acts as Taylor’s defacto hype man.

It’s a wonderfully curated tour, taking you through the annals of Slipknot’s extensive back catalogue, with rare outings of ‘Eeyore’ and ‘Eyeless’. However, it’s the newer material that shines through, with ‘Nero Forte’ and ‘Solway Firth’ already on their way to becoming regular live tracks in the years and decades to come.

The double header of the haunting ‘Vermilion’ and ‘Birth of the Cruel’ provide a little respite in the full throttle pace Slipknot like to charge with. Amidst this there is even a moment to wish DJ Sid Wilson a happy birthday, though it’s not long before the adrenaline is cranked back up with an enormous version of ‘Duality’.

Despite the longevity of their career and sheer behemoth that Slipknot have become, there has always been a level of humility to their performances. Taylor takes a moment to address the state of the world we live in, and preaches a message of togetherness that is found at a Slipknot show.

“As long as we have each other, no one will fuck with this family,” he states, as he leads in a chorus of ‘People = Shit’ – a song that could not be more poignant than in the sadistic state of 2020.