GIG REVIEW: Stone Sour & The Pretty Reckless Live at the O2 Academy, Brixton
While London is renowned for iconic venues, few are on par with the O2’s legendary Brixton Academy. Originally a cinema in the late 1920’s, this prestigious rock venue has hosted countless acts and unforgettable shows within its hallowed walls. Stone Sour, touring their new album ‘Hydrograd’ with two nights booked in the Brixton Academy, came determined to add their name to the list of the Academy’s best alumni. With their sold out, Monday night show ready to be bring the house down, they got off to a pretty impressive start.
With support from The Pretty Reckless, cited by Corey Taylor as Stone Sour’s new “friends and family”, it took little effort to get the audience warmed up. Once the former Cindy Lou Who of The Grinch, now the fierce frontwoman and vocalist, Taylor Momsen, took to the stage with her commanding prowess, potential naysayers were stopped firmly in their tracks. Their lengthy set list, played against a light show worthy of a headline act, saw them make the stage entirely their own. If the ravenous crowd owned some of their newer material, such as “Take Me Down,” and the previous album’s title track, “Going to Hell,” then they unapologetically stole the band’s classic, “Make Me Wanna Die,” practically taking over vocal duties entirely, much to Momsen’s pleasure. A cracking moment rounding out what was an incredible and impressive set.
Shortly after, against a blistering intro entitled, “YSIF”, Stone Sour finally charged the stage, kicking off their heavily cranked, eighteen track set with “Taipei Person/Allah Tea” from their latest album, Hydrograd. For the duration of the evening’s opening track, frontman Corey Taylor covered the length and breadth of the stage several times over, firing off confetti cannons into the crowd and drenching the heaving army of rabid fans who, dressed in black, now sported a hilariously reflective, purple coat, as an impressive pyro of raining sparks fell like ants escaping a steelworks factory.
What followed was the performance equivalent of an insane bungee jump, with the band snapping back and forth between hair raising renditions of some of their best and most notorious tracks. “Made of Scars,” alongside “Reborn,” opened pits that dove straight into some good old fashioned moshing, while “30/30-150”, “Cold Reader,” and the classic “Get Inside,” delivered head banging and hair whipping of such force and ferocity, it might well have sent Willow Smith into a shamed state of seclusion. Vocal chords were strained by several on the night as many a hopeless romantic tried earning brownie points, or saw their relationships left in tatters. Giving in to temptation, the audience began serenading wildly during one of the evenings memorable highlights, the vastly underrated power ballads, ”Through Glass,” and “Hesitate.” And the fun just kept on coming as tracks geared toward the hard rock end of the spectrum swung back around in the form of “Say You’ll Haunt Me,” which saw drummer Roy Mayorga prove, once again, why he is one of the finest drummers in metal. The new but much beloved, “Song #3,” with a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” thrown in for good measure, and the evenings closers “Absolute Zero” and “Fabuless,” gave the appreciative crowd a memorable send off.
While the night had so many highs, and some fine sing-along moments, an opportunity for the finest sing-along of the night was unfortunately missed. For whatever reason, their breakthrough classic, “Bother” failed to make an appearance. Not an unforgiveable decision, and no one expects bands to be performing monkeys, or human jukeboxes.’ But some songs you just want to hear. Songs that transcend their creation, evoking something larger than themselves. Capable of bringing an audience together as one, whatever their personal tastes, into the heart and immediacy of the shared, live experiences. Caught up in a collective exuberance that totally transcends the moment, the song shared becoming part of the very fabric of the night, the crowd, and maybe even of themselves. While several strong moments certainly occurred during the evening, “Bother’s”absence was keenly felt, leaving a hint of the bittersweet as the crowd poured out. A testament to the power of a single song, and to the gifts of one incredible songwriter.
Stone Sour have faced more than a few trials over the years, and still do. If Stone Sour’s catalogue comes with much credibility, it’s a credibility hard won. At a time when Corey Taylor was considered a one trick pony, Stone Sour portrayed a different side to the songwriter. One he, (as he puts it) and the band “take a lot of shit for.” But time and time again, they overcome, overpower, and overwhelm anything that gets in their way. As with their first night in Brixton, which saw Stone Sour give it their all and come away the victors. Here’s hoping for many more return visits. For if there is one show you should get to see this side of 2017, let this be the one. With only a few tour dates remaining, you should probably get booking now.