Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What I Did On My Weekend

Go Trent Go Edition

Well it felt like it took forever but Trent Reznor and his goons have finally gotten their arses back to Australia to make up for the shows they cancelled last May. According to Trent these were the third and second to last shows for Nine Inch Nails with this lineup and also the last in the format of a rock band. It will remain to be seen just what he has in mind but it did feel a little like the end of an era...

The first concert was at Luna Park, the same venue as the May show, and it's a smaller, more intimate venue than you'd expect from a band of this stature.


White Rose Movement were the openers, brought over specially from London. If you're in to the whole nu-new wave thing they might have been entertaining but I was bored to tears. I have no fondness for bands who stand around on stage looking like fashionably dressed robots who have been programmed to only feel ennui. The singer jumped around a lot but it looked more like he was just going through a mental list of actions to be performed by a rock singer rather than that he was picking up the mike stand and waving it around because he was actually excited. K. actually likes this kind of music and even she said that they were a crap live band.


But lets not dwell on that. Nine Inch Nails' history of poor opening bands is no new topic. For Saturday night I figured it was my opportunity to get up close to the band so I found a good place in the mosh pit, and waited patiently until we heard the martial beat of:


Hyperpower!!!

The Beginning of the End

They opened with the same two songs as last time. And fair enough too. 'Hyperpower' is a pretty good walk on track and 'The Beginning of the End' is a good opener.


The band take the stage for 'The Beginning of the End'

Last
On this tour the band have been playing a lot of oldies that have never seen the light of day until now. This is the only one we got over all three concerts, but I'm glad we did. It's a favourite of mine from back in the old days, and this tour might be my only chance to ever hear it.

I don't go out of my way to take photos of people dissolving into a blissful white light but I do seem to end up with a lot of them.

Sin
March of the Pigs

Something I Can Never Have

Closer

They followed up with a selection of their staples. Much to my satisfaction 'Sin' had the awesome synth intro from the Fragility tour this time around. 'March of the Pigs' was pretty much the same as the last three times I saw it, but I get the impression that Trent really likes watching a moshpit go nuts to a song about how shit moshpits are. His vocals during the extended outro sounded a bit like those on 'Memorabilia', but maybe that's just my imagination. 'Something I Can Never Have' was nice, Trent played a nice extended outro on the piano. As is now standard 'Closer' had bits from '
The Only Time' mixed in as a breakdown. This time with lyrics!


Survivalism

Burn

Gave Up

The moshpit was far rougher this time around (compared to the almost stationary audience back in May). Possibly it's because last time they divided the moshpit into two with a barrier, thereby halving the population of shenanigan causing troublemakers.


Burn!

After these tracks they lowered a big LCD screen over the stage and, as in the previous show, they changed their setup to just three laptops, manned by Alessandro, Trent and Aaron. With the ambient noise from 'Another Version of the Truth' providing an intro, they played a little set of:

Me, I'm Not

The Great Destroyer

Which were both fucking excellent. The last time I'd seen them was the first time they ever played 'Me I'm Not' and this time they had it ironed out a bit better. The crazy noisy outro was really good this time. 'The Great Destroyer' of course has an even crazier, noisier outro, and was incredibly fucking brutal. As an extra for experts they even mixed in samples from 'Happiness in Slavery'!

Me, I'm Not

The visuals on the screen were pretty cool (but abstract, unlike the stuff on the live DVDs) and the screen itself was pretty cool too, it could be turned partially transparent, revealing the band behind it.

I wish we could have had more of these visuals, but I'm glad I've finally seen a proper NIN stage show.

Eraser
Only

The band then hid behind the screen for these two songs (Roger Waters styles!), and they had some nice effects during 'Only' when parts of the projection would turn off, showing a glimpse one or another of the band behind it through the static. As far as the moshpit was concerned 'Only' was one of the highlights of the night, although Sydneysiders apparently still have a lot of trouble jumping in time with the music.


Wish

The Good Soldier

Even though they played this one last time I was thrilled to hear it again. The band seemed to be in a better mood this time so I think the original, melancholy spirit of the song came through better.


Following this Trent made a little speech, introducing the other guys on stage and mentioning each of their other musical projects that they'll be pursuing once he kicks them out of his band. He didn't exactly apologise for cancelling the earlier shows but he did joke that 'It feels like just yesterday that we were playing here...' and that he recognised almost everyone in the audience. He also apparently still hates Billy Corgan. Ten years may be a long time to hold a grudge, but by and large Trent seemed so much happier and more upbeat than the last three times I saw him. Good for him!


No, You Don't

Suck

The Day the World Went Away

This is one of my favourite NIN songs and I'm so glad I finally got to hear it!


Dead Souls

Down in it

A nice surprise to get this one! The band seemed to have a lot of fun playing such a goofy song.


The Hand that Feeds

Head like a hole

And they closed with the standard finishers. “But wait”, cried every munter in the audience, “you forgot something!”, well that's not quite what they said, they actually just chanted “Hurt! Hurt! Hurt! Hurt!” so two minutes later, Trent returned onstage alone and played another very beautiful version of


Hurt

The screen descended and displayed a small starfield behind Trent as he played. As the full band joined him for the final chorus the field expanded, and when the heavy bit kicked in the screen turned transparent and the stage was bathed in yellow light. It lacked the emotional power of May's performance but for the visuals this was definitely the coolest version I've seen. I also noticed how Trent has developed the way he sings this song over the years. He's taken a maudlin tale of crushing depression and turned it into a song of redemption. It was a wonderful way to end the set.


Trent plays 'Hurt'

Despite my sarcastic comments above I don't think Trent is actually firing the rest of the band. I suspect that what's happened is that those guys have toured with him for basically three years straight and now they want to do other things, and Trent is using the opportunity to reassess how he's going to perform live. I'll be sorry to see Josh Freese go, he's a great drummer, though often understated and that suits this band perfectly. Alessandro is also pretty cool, although he too gets overlooked because the nature of his role is to stay in the background, save for one or two moments in the spotlight like the start of 'Sin' or the solo in 'The Hand that Feeds'. I'm not so fond of Aaron North on guitar, he seems to do one thing and do it very well and that's those crazy waily, wobbly solos where he swings his guitar around madly. Those are pretty cool but I don't think he really carries the mellow side of this band very well. Jeordie White ostensibly plays bass but I think his main function is just being Jeordie White, he'll be missed but I'm sure we'll see him lurking around stage right again with some other band in the future.

Sunday's show was at the much larger Hordern Pavilion, where I saw them way back in aught five. K. was hungover and I'd done my time in the moshpit the last night so we decided to sit and watch from the seats, where we could actually see the band. The setlist was similar to Saturday, but with some nice surprises.


Hyperpower

The Beginning of the End

No kidding!


Heresy

Terrible Lie

March of the Pigs

The Frail/The Wretched

We saw the welcome return of 'Heresy' but even though the next three were songs they'd played to death the band went absolutely nuts playing them and they were among the highlights of all three shows.


Closer

Ruiner

Here's another one I didn't expect to hear, and another old favourite that I'm glad I was given a chance to singalong to.


Survivalism

Piggy

Gave Up

I wonder if the smoke machine is there to stop cellphone video bootlegging.

Me, I'm Not
The Great Destroyer

You can't really tell from this photo but the outro of 'The Great Destroyer' is pretty fucking loud, especially if you're right in front of the speakers.

Eraser

At least you can see through Trent's Wall.

Only

"There is no you there is only me"

Wish
The Good Soldier

No, You Don't

Reptile

Trent cracked a few more jokes at this point (“I think I recognise all of you tonight”) and mentioned the rant that he posted on nin.com the last time he was in Australia about high CD prices are here. He asked if the prices had dropped since then, and received a resounding “NO” in response. He then told us that we all knew what to do about it. “Steal away!”


The Day the World Went Away

Hurt

The Hand that Feeds

Starfuckers Inc.

Head like a hole

The band seemed to lack energy for the middle stretch of this concert, I thought the crowd (which was a bit small for the venue) was relatively tepid, especially when compared to the feral aggro of last night and the die hard fans hanging on every note back in May, but they sure pulled it out for the last few songs. 'Hurt' was nothing special when compared to the last two times I heard it (although Trent did add some nice embellishment to the piano parts), but the last three rockers were pretty intense, probably because they seem to be favourites of the band and it was the second to last time they'd have a chance to play it together. 'Starfuckers' in particular was wild. Josh kept cranking the tempo during the outro and by the end I wished I'd joined the moshpit, which looked spectacular.


Well that's all the Nine Inch Nails there is for now. Trent promises to release a new album next year and tour hear again next winter (maybe there'll be New Zealand dates this time), here's hoping that's what happens, but we all know how these promises have worked out in the past!

4 comments:

Squirk said...

Did Trent really buy Rose Movement from England? The rights to exploit or the individual members (perhaps as slaves)? Why were England selling them anyway?

I have not kept up the NIN love, mostly because all the CDs seem to be SACD which I refuse to knowingly buy.

(also the punctuation of the munters calling for an encore sounds suspiciously like a run-on sentence it's kind of covered up by the commas they are separate maybe you did it on purpose to "capture the moment" though)

Joel said...

Awesome, wish I could've been there. I'd have loved to see some of those songs live.

I've been considering doing some remixes since Trent put the individual tracks for each song up for download. I've already found a few good ones for DJing.

Also, check it out... it's Trent's rant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ5iHaV0dP4

I was thinking "Jon was there for that!"

Lucy said...

ah you lucky bastard! sounds like they were amazing shows. stupid trent and his refusal to come see me :(

Jon said...

Squirk: yes, Trent did buy White Rose Movement, they had tattoos saying 'property of Nine Inch Nails' across their foreheads. I refuse to apologise for the 'Hurt' grammer. That's just what it sounded like.

Lucy: Fingers crossed for next winter!

Joel: Yes I was there for that, but not quite so close! His little talk the night before was more interesting, and I'm sure it's up on youtube somewhere.