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Concert Reviews:
Slipknot brings fire and ferocity to DTE show

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- If there's a Happy Hour in Hell, it probably looks a lot like a Slipknot concert -- or at least the one the group put on Tuesday night, July 28, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

The latest stop on the masked and costumed metal group's Summer's Last Stand tour was a high-octane, high-volume and highly theatrical celebration that featured macabre figures striding, leaping and riding moving platform around a two-tiered stage, plenty of fire and lyrical brimstone, a few invocations of the number of the beast (666) and a large jackal's head above the stage to watch the proceedings -- along with an international audience tuned into a Yahoo! webcast.

Creepy? Sure. Big fun? You betcha.

Touring to promote its 2014 album ".5: The Gray Chapter," dedicated to late bassist Paul Gray -- and making its second stop in the metro area in eight months -- Slipknot's tour has also saved metal a bit for the summer. With the Mayhem Festival losing its mojo and the Uproar tour not even getting out of the box, the genre feels like it's in a malaise. But with a package that also included Lamb Of God (with a just-released new album), Bullet For My Valentine (with a new album coming Aug. 14) and Motionless In White, Summer's Last Stand drew a near-capacity crowd to DTE (which Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor, like so many others, insisted on calling Pine Knob) that turned the lawn into a sea of mosh pits and even sent a few fans crowd-surfing towards the front of the stage in the pavilion.

These are not bands that are designed to have a calming effect on crowd, of course, least of all Lamb Of God, whose brutal set was accented by elaborate video production via two on-stage screens, and Slipknot. The latter surveyed its 16-year, five-album catalog throughout its 17-song, nearly 100-minute show, with Taylor paying tribute to his real family from the metro area as well as his "extended" family of fans -- who sang along to songs whose lyrics seem unintelligible to many years.

Slipknot started the night on 10, with special effects left, right and center as the group tore through "Scarcastrophe," "The Heretic Anthem" and "Psychosocial." Percussionists Shawn "Clown" Crahan and Chris Fehn smacked on both drums and beer kegs as hydraulic lifts took them up and down, while DJ Side Wilson was a dancing dervish prone to dramatic -- and even dangerous -- leaps from one part of the stage to the other. Fortunately, none of the nine band members were caught by any of the flames, though bassist Alessandro Venturella made clear sport out of getting as close as possible to the fire pots.

The group's performance was ferocious without any letup, though some of the ".5" songs -- particularly "The Devil In I" and "Killpop" -- displayed a more intricate dynamic ebb and flow that gave the show a bit of breathing room. But the group's stock in trade is pulverizing, angsty and meaty metal, and the abundance of that included tightly delivered versions of "AOV," "The Blister Exists," "The Negative One," the anthemic "Duality" and a lengthy "Spit It Out" during which Crahan walked through the pavilion, pressing the flesh with fans.

Taylor also took time to note that Slipknot has been visiting the Detroit area for 16 years, since OZZFest '99. And Tuesday's crowd made it clear that he and his bandmates will be welcome for as long as they want to put on the masks and bring its hellaciously enjoyable stage show back to town.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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