Upon the announcement, Corey Taylor’s ambitious live debut of his CMFT album had all the makings of a milestone event. The swell of anticipation leading into the long-awaited solo effort seemed to be punctuated in grandiose fashion - not only would Taylor finally be able to share his musical identity all his own, but he would do so in the confines of one of rock music’s most storied destinations in The Forum of Los Angeles.
The significance of the evening wasn’t lost on Taylor. After decades of trekking the world over, performing to millions of fans on stages in every corner of the globe, Forum or Against ‘Em could have functioned as another day at the office for one of rock’s most seasoned, accomplished contributors. Instead, Taylor took the opportunity to connect with a global audience in a way that was equally spectacular and sincere, epic and eloquent, incendiary and intimate.
In an empty arena nestled amid the palm trees and traffic of the gritty Los Angeles landscape, Corey Taylor spent two hours holding court with a global community of rock fans that all bear witness to his christening as the genre’s definitive, generational voice. Of all the significance packaged into the plot of Forum or Against ‘Em, likely the most important take away was watching Taylor single-handedly dismantle the assertion that rock is dead in one 90-plus minute set.
There is a rich, palpable legacy that exists within the walls of The Forum. It would be near impossible to name a legend that has not made history under that roof. Taylor’s stage time would not only add to that history but draft a pivotal new chapter in it.
Emerging onstage to Slade and slinging his guitar over his shoulder, Taylor, would literally and figuratively step into the spotlight all his own and assert his rank among the greats past and present. Doing so in the least likely of scenarios, without the roar of the crowd and adulation of arena, Taylor remained unfazed, performing with the kind of confidence that clearly emphasized that some people were just put on this earth for a very specific reason.
Zeppelin, Sabbath, AC/DC, KISS, Metallica, this is the tier of artistry that has contributed to the identity of The Forum and after tonight, Taylor joined in that company. For good measure, Taylor’s closer, “Watchin’ You” from KISS really seemed to underscore the reality that this particular stream had real historical importance.
Throughout countless interviews and conversations regarding CMFT, Taylor would articulate that the collection of music in the album was a sort of anthology of influences; the aggregate of his musical identity. The live translation was a masterful ebb and flow of energy that ultimately crafted the narrative of one of rock music’s most important voices.
Tracks like “Samantha’s Gone,” “Everybody Dies On My Birthday,” and “Meine Lux” offer the sort of rock and roll respite that resonates universally. The mood the music is jovial, energetic and plainly articulates the good time that has long been synonymous with a memorable rock show.
Selections like “Kansas” and “Black Eyes Blue” tap into a timeless sound that crosses divides, both in generation and genre. The music carries a classic quality with a kind of modernity that ensures this isn’t just something repurposed but rather a signature all it’s own.
Songs like “Silverfish” and the ballad “Home” showcase the kind of versatility that is unique to Taylor. There is a distinctive, definitive quality attributed to the kind of performer that is equally comfortable commanding a crowd with his volatility and his vulnerability. In the era of social distancing, particularly with “Home,” Taylor brought fans in close even if it was through a computer screen.
Accented throughout the set was focused collection of work from both Slipknot and Stone Sour. Though the world needed no reminder of the importance of his previous work, selections like “Snuff” from Slipknot and a full band rendition of “Bother” from Stone Sour served a reminder that long before CMFT, Taylor was the kind of fearless songwriter that always defied expectation. Additional Stone Sour cuts like “Taciturn” and “Through Glass” stressed that Taylor’s musical dexterity has long been a part of his DNA.
There just aren’t many artists ballsy enough to pair a Dead Boys track (“All This and More”) with an Eagles’ classic (“Already Gone”). That sort of broad spectrum further highlights the kind of musical IQ that is at Taylor’s core. From Eddie Money’s “Shakin’” to the previously mentioned closer from KISS (“Watchin’ You”), these songs served as snapshots, glimpses into the instances that stuck with Taylor and ultimately steered him to where he is today. More than just a good time, these selections emphasized the kind of personal importance coupled with the night.
Tonight was all about Taylor - past, present, and the future.