Concert Review: Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Of Mice and Men, Live at SPAC

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK - Saratoga Springs, New York is probably not the first place one associates with heavy metal music, with its vast history of horse racing and luxury homes, the area is more known for its upper class, high brow visitors and activities. True, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) has hosted musical acts from all genres since its opening in 1966. This writer as seen everyone from Sting to Lynyrd Skynyrd at the venue and has rarely been disappointed.

Review by John Yake

I couldn't help but find it ironic that Marilyn Manson and Slipknot, two of the heaviest, most brutal acts currently touring would be performing on a picture-perfect summer evening, while nearby, horse racing enthusiasts, clad in top hats and tuxedos were dining on caviar and oysters.

The Opening act, Of Mice and Men, hit the stage to a sparsely-filled SPAC, yet with the energy and attitude of playing to a full house. The production was crystal clear and bone rattling. I must admit that I had little knowledge of the band, and having seen a number of shows in my fifty-three years, was not expecting much from an opening act in a three band line-up, especially having to perform before the likes of Marilyn Manson and Slipknot. I was in for a special treat, though, as Of Mice And Men tore the stage up for the duration of their set.

However, the atmosphere truly became electric when the lights went down and Marilyn Manson came on stage. Looking older and a bit heavier than he did in his 90s hey-day, Manson was simply incredible. Again, the sound production was pristine, and though I wouldn't have thought it possible, even louder than it was for the opening act.

Recent online fan forum posts have voiced concerns about his erratic, inconsistent and even incoherent performances but thankfully, this would be no lack-luster show for Marilyn. The band, consisting of Manson, bassist Twiggy Ramirez, drummer Gil Sharone, guitarists Paul Wiley and Tyler Bates and keyboardist Daniel Fox, were tight and spot-on musically. Marilyn stalked the stage like a predator as he worked his way through his hour-long set, playing such classics as "The Dope Show," "The Beautiful People" and the classic cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams." Newer material, such as the incredible "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge" were given equal time and were as popular with the now capacity SPAC crowd as the classics.

The real fun began when the nine members of Slipknot walked on stage to the roar of the crowd. From my viewpoint in the center seat of the second row, I could best equate the experience to that of being tied to rail road tracks as a locomotive approaches with horns blasting and choking smoke billowing. All senses were on overload as SPAC ignited with a renewed energy.

Beginning their set with "The Negative One" from 2014's The Gray Chapter, it was lead singer Corey Taylor who dominated the stage. Having recently undergone neck surgery, Taylor sported a neck brace under his mask and warned the crowd that there would be certain things he would be unable to do during the performance. Aside from briefly leaving the stage between songs and during instrumental breaks, the singer showed no signs of being hindered by the injury.

Although there were no solo spots during the performance, new drummer, Jay Weinberg, (son of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band's Max Weinberg) was featured in many of the band's songs. With two additional drummers, Shawn “Clown” Crahan and Chris Fehn, this writer was impressed with how well the three percussionists performed together, especially during the classic numbers "Before I Forget," "The Heretic Anthem" and the evening's closer, "Spit It Out." Another highlight of the evening was the band's 2014 hit, "Killpop," which showcased Taylor's incredible vocal power which style-wise, could easily be found on one of Taylor's other band's (Stone Sour) albums.

At the conclusion of this very loud and highly energetic performance, the well-behaved SPAC crowd left the venue with ringing ears, raised levels of adrenaline and smiles on our faces!