11

Stone Sour at Manchester Academy

Corey returns, unmasked, to grace Manchester Academy once again. Originally billed for Academy 2, the tickets have all had to be changed for Academy 1 and no wonder; the queues are the longest I've seen them in a while. I was surprised to find out who the support act were. Bullets and Octane are another sleazy, hard rock band from California and their warm up act was quite appreciated. Another big support act for the Academy. They were greeted to plenty of applause though I was surprised that 'Going Blind' didn't make the crowd go insane. Despite knowing who they were, Bullets and Octane garnered a "just above mediocre" response at best.

Perhaps such a response was due to the fact that for 3 and a half hours, we get just two bands and a short set from each. Perhaps that is being slightly unfair but after the Lordi gig, here at the Academy, it seems to be an ongoing thing. Finally, after a 45 minute wait, Stone Sour take to the stage, oddly opening with '30-30/150'. Perhaps, on reflection it was the best track to open to. It set the tone of the evening - intense, absolute insanity!

Now I've been in a few mosh pits, surfed a fair bit and seen plenty of bands at the Academy but few have been as intense as Stone Sour. I can remember reviewing the new album and thinking it was somewhat blasť but as a live act, Stone Sour really come into their own. The drumming in particular, is excellent and quite visceral and aggressive. The guitar work is not quite as good but Corey makes an excellent front-man. In some-ways, I feel sorry for the rest of the band; everyone seems to just chant "Corey!" instead of "Stone Sour". I bet the band appreciates that!

Everyone was jumping and bouncing like space hoppers on steroids! Everyone knew the words and sung practically every line. For my money, 'Inhale' lifted me up more than any other song they played that night, though 'Through Glass' went down like a weapon of mass distortion with the crowd. Everyone was cheering and singing each line perfectly. I never thought I'd hear a Chris Issak song at a metal gig, but Corey's impromptu cover of 'Wicked Game' certainly brought a laugh to my lungs. Throughout the evening, the intensity back and forth across the stage was palpable.

As predicted, 'Get Inside' was the last song played. My attempt to crowd surf failed because for some reason, my heart wasn't in it. Corey's vocals definitely slipped on this track; it almost felt like an entire key was dropped. Up until now, all the other tracks sounded as good, if not better than the recordings, but 'Get Inside' let Stone Sour down. Corey was probably spent at this point! The pits were also slightly tame and erratic at this point; forming and un-forming very quickly.

Despite the anticlimax, the feeling of "Going 20 rounds with entirety of Slayer, Killswitch Engage and Mastodon" was definitely in effect. Caked in sweat and dizzy from sweating out all the alcohol, I managed to stagger to my bike. A great show with just a few low points. I was disappointed with 'Get Inside' , Corey laid on the flattery a little thick, and I wanted to hear 'Made of Scars' but despite all that, Stone Sour are a great band to see live.