@ Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, December 11 2008

Nine masks, three drum kits, one clown and a decade of noise disturbance. What’s ‘Knot to like?

This was, according to Corey Taylor, the ass-kicking that the Des Moines troupe had been waiting for 10 weeks into the latest leg of the All Hope Is Gone tour.

And for once these probably weren’t the clichéd platitudes of a frontman desperate for friends. Having watched some of rock and metal’s biggest and loudest bands play the Metro Radio Arena during the past 12 years this was an atmosphere to kill ‘em all.

Yes, even Metallica. Even Green Day. Even the Foo Fighters. And even the mighty Maiden.

But what made the sweat pour on an ice cold night was the three-band package of metal’s finest. If Children of Bodom’s set was painfully short – it sounded superb from the box office queue – then Machine Head were quite magnificent.

Slipknot have never lacked confidence but to unleash such a fearsome foursome on their fans before taking the stage themselves was a gamble of gargantuan proportions. The Head, you see, are thrash metal masters at the very top of their game after 10 years perfecting their pitch.

Name-checking Venom was a very clever touch in front of a rabid Tyneside crowd. As was guitarist Phil Demmel’s astute decision to don a black and white shirt. But then Machine Head didn’t need these weapons to win over the assembled throng because their music did the talking.

A power trio of Imperium, Beautiful Morning and Aesthetics Of Hate saw some serious circle pit action with Robb Flynn hailing a new tour record of five simultaneous human tornadoes. But Halo, from the band’s monstrous 2007 record, bagged the prize for tune of the night.

And so to Slipknot. With one hell of an act to follow they trooped onto stage shoulders slumped, masks down and attitude up. It was the calm before an acid rain storm.

Nine musicians make a lot of noise but over the years Corey and his colleagues have learned to harness their disparate parts and create a focused maelstrom of modern metal. New album All Hope Is Gone saw Slipknot’s sound taken to a new, polished level this year but Dead Memories and Psychosocial sound as vicious live as the band’s ear bleeding back catalogue.

Get This Or Die brought a blistering opening salvo to a suitably fitting conclusion but Corey’s admission that he’d just puked hardly filled the crowd with confidence. Pulling a sickie at this stage, though, was simply not an option and luckily King Slip knew it.

Moments later he was questioning why more bands don’t play Newcastle – maybe AC/DC were at the forefront of his warped mind – and later he pledged he’d bring his eight mates back at the earliest opportunity. We’ll hold him to it.

The Heretic Song was a high point in a set with very few lows and if the closing numbers failed to retain the mid-set energy then it was simply because every last ounce of energy had been sucked from thousands of heaving, bouncing bodies. Come the encore the moshing hardcore were in a metal-induced daze. ‘Knot a night for the feint hearted.

Simon Rushworth