Date / Venue: Wednesday August 23rd, 2017 - Spark Arena, Auckland
Arriving early, we tottered off down the road towards Auckland's Spark Arena. As expected, there was a solid crowd outside the venue so instead of waiting in line for a chance at getting pushed up against the front railing of the mosh pit for two hours, we decided to go for a walk around the block. After a quiet beer at a local bar, we headed back toward the arena where we were patted down on entry, and let in without any further fuss.
Standing in the crowd, the atmosphere was rather calm and quiet. Maybe the main act was too far away for the hype to have built, or maybe everyone was still too sober to let loose.
With their frontman inflicted with the flu, City Of Souls opened up with no restraint and got a solid chunk of the crowd jumping with their hands in the air. With token head banging, ripped jeans and deep guitar power stances, they rocked the stage with conviction - only ceasing their high energy performance for the song 'White Ghost', a tribute to a fallen friend. I was unfamiliar with them, so seeing them play live was fantastic. Their drummer in particular, though obviously unable to move from his kit, managed to have no problem gripping the attention of the crowd (or at least me) with a gigantic stage presence and incredible talent. As a band, their melodic yet heavy songs were a fitting lead up to Stone Sour.
After a half hour intermission, Stone Sour strutted out onto the stage and wasted no time getting straight into their first song, Taipei Person/Allah Tea, from their new album, Hydrograd. What stood out to me from the moment they walked out onto stage was frontman Corey Taylor’s sense of showmanship. Even by using generic phrases like “ARE YOU FUCKIN READY?!” and “MAKE SOME NOISE!” He still managed to get the crowd roaring with excitement.
The water bottles were flying out to the crowd as fast as the hits he sang, yelling and screaming his way through songs from all six of the band’s albums - plucking out the songs from each that they thought would get the crowd wild. Whatever they did seemed to work as within a few songs, a pit opened up directly in front of us and heavy moshing ensued. This was a little unexpected for me as I figured it was more of a Slipknot level thing, but I guess it perfectly describes the energy of some of the crowd. With bodies flying around in front of us, we bounced, head banged and sang along to the songs we knew and bounced, head banged and mumbled along to the songs we didn’t.
After Corey confessed to having just come off a sinus infection, the crowd resorted to chanting “COREY... COREY” to which he promptly replied “Sucks... sucks” After a quick chuckle, he managed to sling a guitar over his shoulder, quieten the crowd and play a solo version of their song Bother, with the drummer assisting with the final bar to finish. Teamwork. Proving after over 20 or so years in the business, and battling sickness, his sense of showmanship hasn’t faded.
Though it was a fantastic show, no gig is without its flaws. After City of Souls, Stone Sour seemed quieter… their sound seemed to be lacking a little depth. Though it may be better for my ears, no one goes to a rock gig with safety in mind and I think the set could work a bit more on fixing up their volume and EQ. As for the performers, I found that though Corey made his way around the stage constantly, firing confetti cannons every few songs, the other band members stayed planted for most of the gig. They would move occasionally but seemed to more or less keep within their wee spots. Josh Rand in particular, though a very talented musician, seemed to have a vastly different stage presence than the rest of the high energy band.
After finishing off their set with 'Through Glass' and bidding the crowd good night, Stone Sour were chanted back onto stage where they bashed out a three song encore, finishing with an exciting twist with five wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men (representing each of the band members)and popping up on stage for their song 'Fabuless' after which the band flung their picks and drumsticks into the crowd as a final farewell.
What a show… perfectly paired with City of Souls (who are now on my gym playlist) and combining their new and old music into one huge gig (as per my interview with Josh Rand that you can find HERE). Stone sour shook the crowd doing what they do best: performing as a real, honest rock band. No fancy bells and whistles, just real musicians playing real music. The little kinks were easily smoothed out by the rest of the performance, so if you like rock gigs and if Stone Sour ever return, I would definitely recommend spending your hard earned cash on seeing them play.
2. Taipei Person / Allah Tea
3. Made of Scars
4. Take a Number
6. Say You'll Haunt Me
10. Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I)
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