Slipknot and Lamb Of God go big in Vegas
Venue: MGM Resorts Village, Las Vegas
Support: Bullet For My Valentine, Motionless In White
Given temperatures in Vegas are nudging triple digits, there's every chance that this evening's openers are wishing that they were indeed Motionless In White . They are neither. Instead, they offer a selection of discarded Slipknot riffs and metalcore which has teenage girls screaming “We love you!” at vocalist Chris Cerulli, and grown men heading for the bar. In fairness, the band have their moments, Devil's Night being among them, and they have a tough job warming up the crowd who are already melting in the heat, but their sound and style seems more conducive to a darkened club than outdoors in unrelenting sunshine.
And it's not like there's anything wrong with music aimed at a younger audience, but Bullet For My Valentine  have been around for long enough to reach musical puberty and remain, to these ears at least, a boy band with guitars, their seven song setlist, lead by Your Betrayal and No Way Out, dragging on longer than it takes to get a beer. It would be churlish to suggest that they are not well received, but foolish to suggest that they're to everyone's taste. Love 'em or hate 'em, there's no denying that Bullet For My Valentine have carved out a niche for themselves.
Thankfully, Lamb Of God  have no such problems and begin a blistering set with Walk With Me In Hell before bulldozing into Now You've Got Something To Die For and new song Still Echoes concerning frontman Randy Blythe's time in a Czech prison on manslaughter charges. Safe to say, LOG's balls dropped some time ago and are now roughly the size of watermelons. It should also be noted that 44-year-old Blythe has more energy than those half his age, tearing around the stage like he's been let off a leash, and getting some serious air as he leaps from the risers. There's not an ounce of fat here, just sheer muscle, and if there's a complaint it is only that there's not enough time for more, Redneck rounding up a set that is nothing short of astonishing.
Likewise, Slipknot  are rarely less than magnificent, but, alas, tonight is one of those rare nights, although it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why. Maybe it's the heat, but the vast crowd appears lacklustre, which in turn seems to affect the band's performance, frontman Corey Taylor having to work the audience more than ever. “That was bullshit!” he spits at one point after receiving a half-hearted roar of approval, and, frankly, he's not wrong. This has all the makings of a classic show – bathed in the light of a full moon and the golden reflection of the towering Mandalay Bay hotel – but somehow it is not, at least not if you've seen the band before.
For whatever reason it's not until the penultimate song, Spit It Out, that everything seems to fully come together and this resembles anything like the Slipknot we know and love. By which point there is only Custer to make a brutal last stand, and then the crowd begins to drift away, many of them caught off guard and coming back for an encore of (sic), People=Shit and the ever brilliant Surfacing. On paper, at least, this is a flawless performance from a band riding high on one of their finest albums, .5: The Grey Chapter being a work of absolute genius, but rather than leaving with that post-gig rush, there is a small sense of disappointment. It can never be said that Slipknot didn't pull out all the stops, but sometimes, apparently, that is not enough.