Road-Tested And Tight, Korn Put On Professional Display

Hard rockers deliver a straight-ahead set of material from all four albums.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Although Korn's latest outing is dubbed the Sick and Twisted tour, the hard rockers were pure professionals Tuesday night.

With Jonathan Davis rendering his lyrics of pain in a thousand voices as he bounced in unison with his bandmates, Korn took the Arrowhead Pond by force, delivering a no-nonsense show full of frenetic power and unfailing precision.

The hard rockers' performance on the first of two nights at the venue was so straight-ahead that the bandmembers said nary a word to the crowd during their 90 minutes onstage. The only talking came during a midshow intermission, when three large screens around the circular stage revealed the action backstage. There, in a dressing room, were Limp Bizkit leader Fred Durst, Korn bassist Fieldy, actor Mark Wahlberg and "Loveline" co-host Adam Carolla. As Durst and Fieldy appeared to share a joint, the former beckoned the crowd to welcome Korn back to the stage.

"I'm backstage getting f---ed up — Limp Bizkit in the ho-use," said Durst, whose appearance onscreen was greeted with shrill cheers. "I want all you people who love Korn even half as much as I do, let me hear you say, 'More!' "

Davis returned to the stage alone — having changed from a priestlike long, black gown into a Scottish kilt — and played bagpipes on a platform that elevated him high above the stage. When he was lowered to the stage, his bandmates joined him for their Grammy-nominated "Shoots and Ladders," off Korn (1994). As the crowd sang along with the song's nursery-rhyme lyrics, childlike drawings of stick figures were shown on the screens.

Korn's growth as a live band was apparent throughout the show, as the quintet plowed through song after song with the kind of tightness and professionalism that comes only from years of road work. All night, Davis delivered his signature dance moves — part tribal stomp, part epileptic seizure — while Fieldy and guitarists James "Munky" Shaffer and Brian "Head" Welch bobbed together and drummer David Silveria pummeled away on an elevated platform behind them.

They opened with Issues' brooding first single, "Falling Away From Me" (RealAudio except), as flames shot up around them on the circular stage. As the next song, "It's On" (RealAudio excerpt), began and Davis yelled the cue line "Come on," a curtain dropped to reveal the screens, which featured varying images throughout the show.

For "Freak on a Leash," five stylishly dressed dummies suspended from a rotating chandelier emerged above the stage. As they spun, the screens showed a young girl grabbing the hand of an older man. Paired with the band's music, which often addresses child abuse, the scene carried a disturbing implication.

During Life Is Peachy's "Good God," Davis screamed, "Will you get the f--- out of my face?" Frantically scratching his head in frustration, he answered: "Nooo!" with the crowd shouting along.

"Will you get the f--- out of my life?" he asked. "Nooo!" he and the house answered, even louder.

"This is my first concert, and I can't believe how much the crowd is into it," said 16-year-old Shannon Dateman, who came with her 19-year-old brother, Adam, a Korn veteran.

"I saw them with Rob Zombie last year, and that show doesn't even compare to this," he said.

While the Issues songs "Make Me Bad" and "It's Gonna Go Away" were standouts, the show culminated with a series of old numbers. "Faget" (RealAudio excerpt) provoked the most fervent response from the forefront moshers when it came near the end of the second set, but things cooled down for "Kill You," off Life Is Peachy.

When Korn returned for an encore featuring the 90-second Issues hymn "4 U" and 1994's "Blind" (RealAudio excerpt), they were joined by a massive stuffed teddy bear like the one pictured on the cover of Issues. Now clad in a black leather jumpsuit with red stripes down each side, Davis sang the "Blind" line, "How deep can I go in the ground that I lay?"

"Jonathan is real — his pain is for real," said 18-year-old concert-goer Jason Presley. "He is, like, my god."

Korn will wrap up the U.S. leg of their Sick and Twisted tour April 19 in Kansas City, Mo., before heading overseas.