Korn | 05.25.13

kornpicKorn had the audience on its feet, fists in the air, throwing back every bit of energy they were being quite happily pummeled by.

 

 

 

Peabody Opera House, St. Louis

When Korn announced they were bringing their show to the recently refurbished Peabody Opera House, it sounded as odd and unlikely a matchup as Slayer hailing Satan and rocking out in the upscale confines of Jazz at the Bistro. Nevertheless, the news was true, and many of the rockers who rolled into the beautiful venue looked genuinely confused at how to behave themselves at such an unusual location for a concert by the nu-metal godfathers. With the band raging into town along with Love and Death, and Device, any sense of fan displacement began to evaporate—although, admittedly, it took awhile.

Love and Death, the side project of recently returned Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, had the unenviable task of warming up the restless crowd with songs that most fans were hearing for the first time. It was a raw and tight, if unspectacular, start to the evening, which wasn’t without a sense of humor, intentional or otherwise. On the intentional side, the band ripped into a spirited version of Devo’s “Whip It,” with Welch, handling vocals, furiously swaying in a classic red-flower-pot Devo hat. They even found time to tease the crowd with a little ’80s rock radio nostalgia by riffing a few bars of the .38 Special nugget “Hold on Loosely.” Across the tracks in Unintentional Humorville, bassist Michael Valentine, a great player, did so much emo posing he managed to inspire more than a few eye rolls with his Robert Smith–meets–Jack Skellington routine. Nevertheless, the songs were well received, particularly “Chemicals,” a track detailing Welch’s past struggles with substance abuse.

Taking things up a notch was Device, the industrial-flavored project fronted by Disturbed singer David Draiman. Easily winning over the majority of the crowd with his commanding stage presence and impressive vocal range, Draiman stalked the stage in a flowing black overcoat looking like a Windy City Nosferatu. Tunes off their Warner Bros.’ debut obviously anchored the set, with the radio hits “Vilify” and “You Think You Know” garnering the greatest reactions from the crowd, along with a surprisingly successful reworking of the evening’s only ballad: Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Close My Eyes Forever.” Draiman made no secret of his distaste for those who remained in their seats, and actually took his time to berate them individually, which only upped the entertainment factor of the evening. Trust me: You don’t want to be singled out by Mr. Draiman.

Finally, it was the time that all Korn huskers had been waiting for, and their patience was rewarded by an adrenalized performance that, amazingly, never let up once during the entire show. With Brian “Head” Welch back in the fold, all of the essential elements were there to allow the band to truly embrace the intense material. Opening with “Blind” from their self-titled debut, Korn had the audience on its feet, fists in the air, throwing back every bit of energy they were being quite happily pummeled by.

Though vocalist Jonathan Davis had to fight to be heard in the mix, he was present and accounted for after the first few songs. In fact, by the time the band launched into “Falling Away From Me” from their Issues album, the mix was clear as a bell, with the band careening over atmospheric shifts and twisting rhythms like an out-of-control rocket ship in a meteor storm.

While the reunion of Welch and guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer was a master class in dual-guitar restraint and a pretty sublime balance of minimalism and power, the real star of the show was the rhythm section of Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu and drummer Ray Luzier. Even though Luzier was the “new” guy (he joined in 2007), his intricate and heavy-groove bashing was the perfect complement to Arvizu’s sub-sonic assault. They particularly shined on “Narcissistic Cannibal,” fleshing out the dubstep vibe with a real-world brutality.

Winding down the main set, the band performed its popular cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” allowing them to fully display the range of dynamics and musicianship that they’ve honed from years of road work. By the time the band finished their three-song encore with the Grammy-nominated track “Freak on a Leash,” the metal faithful were sent back into the night, fully satiated and, of course, still wanting more. | Jim Ousley

 

 

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