An Evening with Corey Taylor
HighLine Ballroom, New York, NY
December 5th, 2011
Concert Review: Corey Taylor at the HighLine Ballroom
Monday night’s rock show at the HighLine Ballroom wasn’t really much of a rock show at all, despite featuring Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor on the marquee. Nonetheless, packs of fans filled in the intimate setting for an evening of interactive Q&A, readings from his book, and a solo acoustic set- all of which reeked more of self-indulgence than anything else. But underneath all of the fluff, Taylor- the frontman- showed off his undeniable talents.
Taylor took the stage sharply at 8pm to a loud ovation from the audience- many donning black Slipknot t-shirts, some even wearing masks. Sporting a beard and an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ shirt, Taylor made the audience some promises on what to expect of the evening, which can only be described as ‘different.’ Said Taylor, “three things you’re not going to see tonight- Number one: there will be no nudity. Number two: we will not be dancing. And number three: I will not lie to you tonight.”. He did however promise a short book reading, a Q&A session wherein he defined what a question should consist of, and then finally, he’d “pick up guitar and sing the rest of the night.”
The show began a little off-kilter with the small but normally intimidating vocalist testing his mettle with a brief bit of stand up. Touching upon the new face of Brawny paper towels, frustrations of driving around New York, and musings about the sinks at the new Dream Hotel, Taylor enthusiastically bounced around the stage, seemingly pleased with himself. It was like watching someone perform who thinks they’re funny, who no doubt has been told they’re funny, but the audience knows that despite this little side show, he’d be better served to pick up his guitar a little earlier. If Taylor is the funniest rock frontman in music today, that should tell you something about the comedy company he keeps, and while we applaud his attempt to break new ground with an inventive, intimate live show, his comedic attempts ultimately fell flat.
Taylor then grabbed his autobiography “Seven Deadly Sins,” (released July 2011) and read from it in a way meant to inspire and motivate. Interestingly enough he slammed organized religion, yet stood on his pulpit as if he were reading from ‘The Good Book,’ urging fans to embrace their rage because as Taylor put it “only things that can drive us up a wall can inspire us to do better things.” He postured over his own personal anger and demons and dealing with rage, often times lashing out at restless hecklers in the audience who clearly rattled him.
The Q&A portion of the evening was short but was a nice touch. After all, how many headlining artists give fans the opportunity to ask questions during a live performance? The forum was open and conversational, giving fans a glimpse into the future (Taylor promised a North American summer festival tour in 2012 with Slipknot, but not a new album for the band next year), his vocal preparations for live shows, thoughts on the new Korn and Metallica albums (mentioning that both bands have earned the right to take any chances they want, although he certainly seemed to refrain from expressing his true feelings on Metallica’s ‘Lulu’ collaboration with Lou Reed), and his upcoming ‘electric pool party’ shows in Las Vegas.
After a short break, Taylor was back out onstage- this time with an acoustic in hand, and it should be said that the enigmatic frontman’s vocals in person are nothing short of riveting. Stone Sour singles like the haunting “Bother” and “Through Glass” were sprinkled around the lesser known “Zzyzx Rd.” and Slipknot’s “Spit It Out” and “Snuff.” Taylor’s incredibly raspy, deep voice somehow hitting each remarkable note of the slowed down songs, emphasizing every syllable with the fervent intensity of a singer/songwriter with enough pent up feeling to make you believe the same pain that he feels. Each time his strained voice climbed an octave, we cringed at the thought of him failing to tackle each note, but each time, Taylor managed to come through admirably. His solo performance here was just a marvel to absorb and more than made up for any letdown from earlier in the evening.
Taylor then launched into a short set of covers, bringing out his longtime friend Jason Parisi on guitar. Nine Inch Nails’ “Something I Can Never Have,” and Alice in Chains’ “Down in a Hole,” were intertwined with more mellowed covers of U2’s “With or Without You” and Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” while Taylor brought out native New Yorker, Queen V for lead vocals on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly.” The covers were solid yet may have lost the crowd a bit since they were piled into the set one after another, potentially replacing the strangely absent Stone Sour single “Say You’ll Haunt Me.” But beggars can’t be choosers, and the facts are that Corey Taylor managed to put on an entertaining and interactive two and a half hour show all by himself. He returned to the stage one final time, encoring with his fitting Christmas song- the jokey “XM@$,” wishing the crowd a happy holiday and sending them on their way home. And many of them, including us, a little confused by the variety show of sorts that had just been presented to us. To break new ground in music, you need to be able to take risks, and a credit goes to Corey Taylor, who at least has the moxie to try.
- Jane Van Arsdale