KORN, ROB ZOMBIE, IN THIS MOMENT
MANDALAY BAY EVENTS CENTER
The emperor is naked and sits atop a giant elephant. In This Moment are nothing if not theatrical, and this is Vegas, after all; the big show. Thankfully, this is not a literal elephant, because that would be cruel, but perhaps pointing it out is equally cruel, in which case please forgive me. It’s just that singer Maria Brink appears to have a speech impediment, and it’s kind of difficult not to notice, what with her being a singer and all. “Thish shong ish called…” “Thish shong ish about…” Bond. Jamesh Bond.
More worrying, however, is the fact that she seems to be miming – and let’s not call it lip-syncing, because that implies that it’s a talent. She wears a wireless mic, but at no point is there any intake of breath other than exactly what’s on the records, or even the slightest deviation from pitch, even when she’s headbanging, which is simply not possible. Granted, the music itself isn’t bad, a female Marilyn Manson, but her message of empowerment and believing in yourself falls rather flat if she’s not actually singing live. Maybe I’m wrong, but a brief search online suggests that others have noticed it too.
Never one to be outdone in the theatrics department, Rob Zombie works the crowd before he’s even on stage, Elvis’s Viva Las Vegas belting out through the PA as the lights dim, before the band crunch into Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown to a backdrop of wild projections and flashing lights. Zombie, himself, is dressing in a silver suit, complete with bellbottoms and long fringed sleeves, like some mad hobo has been through Elvis’s trash. Only he can make this look cool. By the time we’re into the second song, Superbeast, a giant Satan is wandering around on stage. What’s not to like?
Actually, there are a couple of things not to like, a pointless cover of Tone Loc’s Wild Thing, and the new single Everybody’s Fucking In A UFO – pretty much a direct copy of the Primus tune Winona’s Big Brown Beaver – being among them, but if there are a few glaring omissions – no What? or Sick Bubblegum – it’s still a solid and visually stunning set. It also happens to be John 5’s birthday, and there are probably worse ways to celebrate than by having 12,000 people sing to you. There are worse ways to end a set, too, than by knocking out Dragula to a montage of car wrecks.
The last time Korn came through Vegas was less than a year ago, when they played the House Of Blues, – a vastly smaller venue – and for this reason it came as a surprise to find out that they were headlining tonight. Like, really, they’re that big still? Of course, that last show was something special, the 20th anniversary of their eponymous debut album, on which they played that record in its entirety, but tonight is no less so, a welcome – and apparently much needed – reminder that they are among the most influential bands on the planet, loved and loathed in equal measure. My friends take the piss because I like the band, but Korn are not some guilty secret, nor should they be.
Unfortunately, such is the nature of some of these huge shows, that you’re kind of stuck next to whoever happens to have bought the seats next to you, or indeed has decided to swap seats so they can bother you, and I get back from shooting pictures to find the wife looking utterly pissed off. Apparently the two drunk girls next to us have decided that we can get them backstage, and they won’t stop asking. “How old do you think I am?” one asks, perhaps expecting a kind twenty-five. “I dunno, later thirties, early forties.” Korn are playing Coming Undone. I feel them.
The good news is that Korn’s music is conducive to anger, better for it, in fact. “Nick-nack, paddywack, give the dog a bone!” No, I can’t get you backstage, and even if I could, no one wants your drunk asses back there. With Shoots And Ladders comes a snippet of Metallica’s One, and then comes Blind. No, seriously, the band don’t want to meet you. You see those kids leaping around on stage? They’re the singer’s kids. He doesn’t want to meet you. Twist. “Sometimes things make me, oh, oh, it makes me mad!” Freak On A Leash. “Can’t they chill and let me be?”
Funnily enough, few things are more enjoyable than watching Korn went you want to kill the person next to you. You should try it sometime.