Live Review: Stone Sour’s Avalanche Tour

One look at Stone Sour’s setlist taped to the floor of the Alamodome’s stage Friday night convinced a certain reviewer that the band would not surpass a four-star performance.

Mind you, the group hadn’t taken the stage yet at the brand new Illusions Theatre (which was more of a glorified name for the Alamodome when it sports curtains as a backdrop in the stands). And true, Stone Sour didn’t disappoint at last September’s Uproar Festival stop in Corpus Christi or at its previous San Antonio visit in March 2007.

So why should this go-round be different? Because they planned on deleting personal favorite song Hell and Consequences.

But then Stone Sour took the stage.

And “Let’s Be Honest,” San Antonio. What followed was not just another live ass-kicking by the boys from Iowa, but also one of the most emotional performances the SAMME has seen in 24 years of concert-going revelry.

On a night Gin Blossoms helped kick off the annual two-day Fiesta Oyster Bake before thousands at St. Mary’s University while others opted for a radio station’s dance Mix Fest at Sunset Station just outside the dome, Stone Sour headlined the Avalanche Tour within the structure’s cozy confines for the first of eight Texas dates. They began with the same two songs performed at Uproar: Mission Statement and Reborn. Singer Corey Taylor then addressed the roughly 1,800 fans with, “Who would’ve thought I’d be playing one of the end zones at the Alamodome?”

Even with headline status, a five-band set-up scheduled from 6-11 p.m. limited the number of touchdowns Stone Sour was going to score with the fans. But a band can only play the cards its dealt, and Stone Sour’s 12-song, 65-minute set delivered as much as was allowed. Half of the tunes came from latest solid album Audio Secrecy, which proved to be an advantage for those who caught the band’s Corpus Christi performance last Sept. 11 when the new album had only been out for four days, thus limiting new material to three singles: Say You’ll Haunt Me, Mission Statement, and Digital (Did You Tell).

But while Taylor, guitarists James Root and Josh Rand, bassist Shawn Economaki and drummer Roy Mayorga combined those singles, and rockers Made of Scars and Unfinished, with mellower offerings Dying and Hesitate, it was a song from Stone Sour’s self-titled first album that took on more significance than usual.

“Some of you may know that today is my fallen brother’s birthday,” Taylor solemnly told the crowd, referring to his and Root’s former bass compadre in Slipknot, Paul Gray, who died last May of a morphine overdose. Taylor collected himself, then added: “I wasn’t sure if I was going to say anything. But I miss him every day. I’d like to dedicate this next song to him.”

With the stage belonging to Taylor and his guitar, the frontman went into Bother, pausing a couple of times to wipe tears. When it looked as if he wouldn’t be able to make it through the song, the crowd uplifted him with chants of “Corey, Corey, Corey!”

As Taylor finished his performance, he turned his back to the people, again wiping tears as the chants continued. Mayorga tried to get Taylor’s attention while Taylor was looking down, finally doing so by tapping his drumstick on one of the drum heads. Taylor looked up, and Mayorga gave his bandmate a fist-bump.

Taylor has always been one of metal’s most passionate performers, whether he’s fronting Slipknot or Stone Sour, covering Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game on acoustic guitar (as he did at Sunset Station in 2007), or lending his talents to other bands’ projects, including Walls of Jericho’s Redemption EP.

But this was Taylor at his unmasked, soul-baring best.

Taylor, who had said earlier that he was battling a cold, told the crowd, “I can tell this is going to be one of my favorite shows on the whole tour.” Clearly, fans at the remaining Texas dates, including tonight’s return to Corpus Christi’s Concrete Street Amphitheater, plus other states will have their work cut out.

The night ended with Through Glass (see setlist on slideshow, top left) and the mega-intense Get Inside and 30/30-150. The latter two forced yours truly’s air drums to make a furious appearance. Taylor then promised “we WILL be back to do this again.”

Since Gray’s passing, Taylor has reportedly been non-committal about Slipknot’s long-term future. But any band or project stamped with his imprint is worth looking forward to. If Slipknot does call it a day sooner than later, it probably won’t take Stone Sour another four years to return to San Antonio. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll play a bonus track such as “Suffer” or “Home Again,” two songs that more than stand up to any of their “regular” material.

Surely, those at the Alamodome would find a quicker return to be a silver lining. And that’s no illusion.


Jay Nanda – The San Antonio Metal Music Examiner

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