Korn + Downlink + J Devil @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Monday 26th March 2012


Review and photos by Russ Tierney

First up are, or rather, is J Devil, which turns out to be Korn frontman Jonathan Davis. He takes to the stage armed with just decks and a Mac to show off his new dubstep credentials that the other boys in Korn mustn’t have let him incorporate in to their new material or something. “If you don’t like it, Fuck you, but I still love you anyway” kind of suggests he has a very real idea that what he’s offering isn’t going to sit well with some… But he does it any way and you have to admire his confidence (arrogance?) and the jury’s still out on whether it would elsewhere be well received with at least 50% of the Korn Faithful responding well.

Next up is more of the same in Downlink. The bass shakes the venue and without knowing his or Jonathan Davis’s back story in Dub Step, for me his experience in the genre shines massively to that of Davis. It’s heavy and loud as hell you feel like you’ve been whisked to club specialising in the genre. Knowing his audience somewhat more than Davis (may be ironically given it’s a Korn show), he tries to draw them in by comparing Dub step to being the Metal of the dance and electro world and further gains brownie points when he throws in a System of a Down number that the crowd lap up. Maybe J Devil didn’t do anything wrong in a genre I’m not up on to judge fairly but his set lies in the shadow of Downlink.

Lastly, the reason the crowd have come tonight and the reason I come tonight, nu metal’s finest Korn hit the stage. The mere mention of their name takes me back to being 14/15 where I instantly visualise the award winning ‘Freak on a Leash’ video and the brave decision to introduce Bagpipes in to the metal equation. So does this equally brave venture in to dub step pay off live? In short, not really no… an honest Korn fan would choose the album Follow the Leader over Path of Totality every time and this is echoed listening to various audience members discussing possible sets while queuing. A highlight from it however is ‘Get Up’, which really gets the crowd going and peaks my interest for the first half of the set.

Korn have split the set in to sections representing various points in their evolution and we’re made to wait for the good stuff. You feel yourself having to ask beforehand if Korn want to be taken seriously as a metal band or are they just growing by latching on to the modern sounds of dub step? For me, they split the difference and are just kind of there, maybe live, they miss the artists they collaborate with on the latest album. Unfortunately, they’re not all that benefited by their one guitar set up either as you have a bassist hitting all the low dub notes every other second, a guitar playing a few twiddley effects and a huge space left to be filled by just the drums and vocals… It sounds sparse and is only heavy due to sheer power in the bottom end. Also, unlike most bands, Korn slow down some of their big hitters live too, which zaps the feel from the grooves and leave the crowd unaware of the fact ‘Freak on a Leash’ has even kicked in ‘til the vocals make it evident… Surely this must have just been a bad night?

So in conclusion, I was genuinely left thinking about what I’d write to the point of asking members of the audience their opinion, and they of course, loved it! I own ‘Follow the Leader’ but its not at the core of my own personal playlists, so I can only suggest that if you are a fan, you are in for a treat. But if new to the Korn experience, I suggest you enter with an open mind and see where it takes you!

And you can see more of Russ’s photos from the show below:


  1. Russ- were you even at the gig? One guitar set up? If you cared to pay any interest then you would have noticed the second guitarist in the background filling in on all the parts that used to be played by Brian ‘head’ Welch. To add to your bad night, you must have been stood in a bad place because from where we were standing the sound quality was spot on.

    Why are you reviewing this gig when you make reference to only owning follow the leader and the songs within this album as the ‘good stuff’, further dismissing the opening set of songs?! Korns debut and life is peachy are amazing albums and it is a credit to the band that they opened with songs that any new fans would struggle to know.

    I’m not a fan of the new stuff but still enjoyed the show. Birmingham well and truly rocked that night.

  2. Sweet baby Jesus and his sandals, what in the name of all that is metal is the world coming to??? Two DJ sets as support..that is poor.When I first saw KORN on their first UK tour they had two unknown up and coming bands support them…Incubus and Limp Bizkit. Support slots should be given to bands who deserve a push and a taste of what touring with a big named band is like!

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