Concert Review: Corey Taylor at Highline Ballroom in NY, NY
Reviewed by: Antonio Marino Jr.
Nine years ago, Corey Taylor spent his birthday in Poughkeepsie, NY. on stage with his “new” band Stone Sour. Emerging from the imposing musical shadow of Slipknot, Stone Sour had a raw newness that was exciting to watch. Stone Sour’s sound, although heavy, called on Corey to be much more of a melodic singer and as strange as it was to see two of Slipknot’s members performing unmasked it was even stranger to hear Corey sing!
Jump forward nine years, almost to the day. Corey Taylor is on stage alone on the tail end of his month long spoken work/acoustic performance tour. You would be hard pressed to find another artist who has been more prolific than Taylor. In the past 9 years Corey has released 4 studio albums (2 with Slipknot, 2 with Stone Sour), has toured extensively and most recently he released his New York Times bestselling book Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good. The tour, which takes its name from the book, isn’t a new concept being that Henry Rollin’s has been doing spoken word engagements for years but it is a radical change in direction for a man whose career has been anything but predictable.
Taylor arrived punctually at 8pm with a child-like enthusiasm, pacing from side to side waiting for the intro music to die down so he can starts the show. As if in mid-thought Corey started to rant about his day and the craziness that is New York City. From truck drivers who can’t drive, to the awkward hotel room accommodations, his energy is compelling and It’s clear that Corey loves to talk. In his excitement to detail his day he often loses his train of thought to tell another story that has come to mind. In one such instance he’s reminded about the first time he came to New York City. Unlike most tourists who clamor to the more popular attractions like the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building, Corey asked to be taken to CBGB’s. He remembers that the band playing that night was nothing special and he found himself outside the club daydreaming about all of the artist that had stood in that very spot.
After reading a few pages from his book – which he amusingly pointed out, has landed on the Christian best-sellers list – he took questions from the audience? Not all of the questions were deep – “What mask is your favorite?” (The All Hope is Gone mask, if you must know) but it was the rather open ended question “What does being an artist get you?” that provided the most telling answer. He started answering with the conventional gesture of pointing to the crowd. After thinking about the answer some more he continued by thinking out loud about how lucky he is. “I get to front two great bands; I get to write a book, who can say that?” The fact that it was said without the slightest sense of cockiness made the comment quite meaningful. Taylor’s musical projects are usually pitted against each other as if one must be more important than the other. It was clear in his answer that he doesn’t feel that way. When asked about the future of Slipknot he promised a summer tour that will blow people’s minds when it is announced.
After taking a 5 minute break he returned to the stage. Starting with songs from Slipknot and Stone Sour the musical set wasn’t too far off the beaten path until he played a tripped out Hell-Billy version of the Slipknot classic “Spit it Out”. The interpretation was a clever take on a song that bore very little resemblance to the original but everyone present seemed on board and willing to expect the unexpected. The last song from his own repertoire was “Snuff” the song that he’s earlier proclaimed his proudest musical moment. It was the first song that he handed his Slipknot band mates as a band mates composition. He cried after hearing the results of his band mates tweaking of the song, saying that they had perfectly completed his vision of the song. “Snuff” is now his tribute to Paul Gray.
The rest of the set was made up of covers and you got the sense that this was the favorite part of the evening for Taylor. For this portion of the show he was joined on guitar by Jason Parisi. The songs were pulled from a broad pool of influences. Alice in Chain’s “Down in a Hole” was very faithful to the original and served as a highlight. It also served to illustrate that Corey isn’t too shabby a guitar player. Considering the considerable talent in the guitar department there’s little reason to flex his guitar skills in his other bands but it’s impressive to hear him play an almost flawless version of the guitar solo on the Pink Floyd classic “Comfortably Numb”.
And as comfortable as he was in playing guitar he was also more than happy to share the mic. New York’s very own Queen V was asked to come up. Their take of AC’DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” may not have been perfect but it sure was fun. The mood stayed light with the Lita Ford “classic” “Kiss Me Deadly”. It was hard to tell how many people knew Queen V who has been a staple of the New York City rock scene for quite some time now but everyone seemed more than happy to have her take command of the show for two songs. The regular set closed out with the Ramones “Outsider”. The show, which clocked in at almost 2 1/2 hours closed out with Corey returning to the stage to play his own song “X-M@S”.
Corey Taylor “unplugged” may not be for everyone. There are going to be Slipknot fans that simply want to hear Corey screaming his guttural grunts set to the apocalyptic souapocalypticand. For those fans there’s nothing here for them. This musical path is best served with a deep breath and an open mind…and perhaps a cold cocktail and a smile.