After more than a decade worth of building his debut album ‘Black Labyrinth’, coupled with working on some soundtracks and one-off songs here and there alongside his EDM alter-ego JDevil, iconic Korn frontman Jonathan Davis is now a solidified solo artist with an album to push with it.
Ahead of an appearance at Download Festival, he’s getting his pipes warm and flexed with a few shows dotted about the UK, one of which being in the underground lair that is Manchester’s Club Academy.
Scouse metallers Death Blooms , who are also set to perform at Download over the coming weekend, open proceedings. It’s pretty standard nu-metal influenced metalcore through and through, which makes sense for a band named after a Mudvayne song, but a tried and tested formula doesn’t mean instant dismissal. Paul Barrow‘s vocals are strong and formidable, and songs like ‘Sick’ are prime moshing material.
Of course, it’s Jonathan Davis  that everyone is here and eagerly waiting for, and one-by-one his live band take to the stage, which includes drummer and fellow Korn band member Ray Luzier, before he comes forth from the stage door.
With just one solo album worth of material to his name and strictly steering away from performing any Korn numbers, Davis and co. perform all but two songs from ‘Black Labyrinth’, starting with ‘Underneath My Skin’. They’re not really numbers you can mosh and pit to, unlike the back-catalogue from his main project, but even with the album released less than a fortnight ago the fans are singing the lyrics right back at him.
Both ‘Everyone’ and ‘Your God’ are notable moments in the set, and Davis even throws in some cuts from the Queen Of The Damned soundtrack that he worked on in ‘System’ and ‘Forsaken’. Davis and the band play a little jam session game, with him picking random genres for the band to play instantly, before he moves onto a surprisingly respectful cover of ‘Love On The Rocks’ by Neil Diamond.
It’s a somewhat odd yet special moment – Davis mustn’t have played in a venue this small and intimate anywhere in the world since the release of Korn‘s breakthrough 1999 single, ‘Freak On A Leash’, and it’s something that he even comments on and appreciates.
Maybe this is the kind of assurance that Davis needs to know that his solo work can flourish and, though it may not be as aggressive, intimidating, or formidable at this stage in comparison to his work in Korn, there’s clearly a future here for him when the band’s dreaded but inevitable demise finally comes to be.