Photography by: Jeanette LeBlanc
Words by: Dakota King
Metal fans alike flocked to the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday, July 19 to welcome nine-man heavy metal group Slipknot, who released their fifth album, .5: The Gray Chapter, on October 19th, 2014, as they made a Toronto pit stop on their North American Tour featuring support from American shock rocker Marilyn Manson and his troupe, who last year released The Pale Emperor, on January 15, 2015, and nu-metal/metalcore quintet Of Mice & Men, who released their third full length studio album Restoring Force on January 24, 2014.
With the ACC’s curfew looming in the air, Of Mice & Men took to the stage as people sporting Slipknot associated merch (versions of frontman Corey Taylor, former drummer Joey Jordison, and Shawn Crahan’s masks, jumpsuits, and various tour merch from over the years) trickled into their seats, and out onto the floor. Two big names on the bill that night meant that OMAM vocalist Austin Carlile had to work extra hard in stoking the fire that was to come later in the evening. With the usual crowd banter, and minimal reception, OMAM ferociously careened through a 7 song setlist compiled from their last two releases- so those who were expecting to hear anything from the Shayley Bourget days unfortunately were snubbed.
The maturation in Of Mice & Men is quite abundant, and “Bones Exposed” as well as “You Make Me Sick” highlighted this. Bassist and singer Aaron Pauley especially shone during “Never Giving Up”, his intimate and sincere vocals alongside Carlile’s guttural and passionate growls creating a powerful combination that reverberated throughout the arena. Drummer Tino Arteaga slammed through a new single titled “Pain”, off of their anticipated fourth full length release Cold War, with such outstanding force and finesse that it was clear he, as well as the band as a whole, have more than proved their growth.
After ending their set all together with “The Flood”, stage crews quickly shot out to prepare for Marilyn Manson. In this down time, concert-goers threw down some drinks and established an energetic buzz before Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” rang out from the speakers. Knowing that this song preludes to Manson’s entrance, avid followers leapt out of their seats in the stands and attempted to elude security as they made a run for the barricade separating them from the GA floor. No sooner were they pulled down, the lights dimmed and packets of red and blue Holi powder were thrown out into the audience. Marilyn Manson had arrived, and “Angel With The Scabbed Wings” crept out mercilessly into the ears of all who could hear it. Manson’s signature presence, polished and nightmarish, still dominates having scaled-back his live performances. There are no longer vigorous theatrics and stage sets in the mix, this works as he has reached a level of respect that doesn’t demand this.
However Manson still prowled and writhed on stage, knocking his microphone stand and himself to the ground, caressing the space around him and perching among the amps. Playing a mix of hits such as “Disposable Teens”, “mOBSCENE”, and “The Dope Show”, as well as features from The Pale Emporer, we got a straight forward show glossed with industrial rock, metal, and glam. Beer was spilled, bottles were smashed. Jumping down into the photo pit at one point, fans got an up-close and personal encounter during “mOBSCENE” and when he ran out and around the floor of the ACC during the last encore song “The Beautiful People”.
Dialled in from Manson’s performance, the audience awaited patiently until David Bowie’s “Fashion” blasted out across the speakers. Many were already up in arms on the floor when the curtain split and a grand video display showcasing burning effigies emerged.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine masked bodies appeared onstage as Slipknot in its entirety launched into “The Negative One”. A spectacle of lights erupted as Shawn “Clown” Crahan and Chris Fehn pummelled away at their drums and kegs on elevated, rotating platforms on either side of the stage. Corey Taylor, who recently underwent spinal surgery to alleviate a broken neck injury, donned a black neck brace as he charged through the track alongside the audience, who quite frankly, never stopped singing.
Thundering through older favorites “Disasterpiece”, “Eyeless”, and “The Heretic Anthem”, as well as new cuts including “Skeptic”, “Killpop”, and “The Devil in I” Jim Root and Mick Thomson consistently demonstrated one brutal riff after another, as Taylor fed crowd-pleasing lines to the audience, and made a note of declaring “it is so good to be back in Toronto with you crazy motherfuckers!”. The appreciation for the fans was re-affirmed throughout their set as Taylor took time to exchange small talk with the crowd, thanking them and emphasizing how they are his ‘fucking family, his maggots’.
Slipknot concluded their funhouse of hell with a three song encore comprised of “Surfacing”, “Duality”, and lastly “my friends, my family, its time for all of us to Spit It Out”. Mid-way through, Taylor addressed the audience who, as per the maggot ritual, had dropped to the floor on their knees. Requesting the rest of the area to follow suit, not one able body wasn’t on the ground or sitting in their seats.“I’ve got a broken neck, but I have one jump in me tonight. And I’m going to jump with you”, Taylor roared and upon his request, everyone jumped back up as the song continued.
A fan dressed in the late Paul Gray’s mask stayed until the members of Slipknot left the stage, and most of the crowd had dispersed from the floor. It is unknown why he was sitting, staring up into the towering rafters above. Perhaps he was paying tribute to the fallen bassist. Perhaps he had too much ‘juice’, and could not stand. Or perhaps he was relishing the moment. It is undeniable that Slipknot have achieved elite status in the heavy metal world and that this performance, as well as others, was proof that as long as their music thrives, you’ll always have a family.
Of Mice & Men Set-List:
Public Service Announcement
Never Giving Up
You Make Me Sick
Marilyn Manson Set-List:
Angel With The Scabbed Wings
This Is The New Shit
The Beautiful People
The Negative One
Before I Forget
The Heretic Anthem
Pulse Of The Maggots
Devil In I
Wait And Bleed
Spit It Out