Wednesday night’s Nine Inch Nails concert at the IZOD Center, in Rutherford, NJ, was an amazing performance and multi-media event. I would love to say that the band put on the unbelievably rawkus and energetic show, they have been know to put on in the past. For the most part there wasn’t a lot movement and action onstage by the band, except when they played songs like “March of the PIgs,” or “Head Like a Hole.” Robin Finck often looked awkward and clumsy, moving almost like a cross between Jerry Only and a guy in a horse costume. He even had a Guns ‘n Roses moment ripping out a very 80s blues-metal solo during Terrible Lie. The best comparison I could draw about the band itself is that they were like going to see an orchestra, concentrating more on playing the music than performing the music. But that didn’t make the concert any less cool, or exciting. The musicianship and the song list alone was enough to make any NIN fan happy, whether they jumped around like idiots, or not; playing songs from Pretty Hate Machine, Broken, Downward Spiral, The Fragile, With Teeth, Year Zero, Ghosts and The Slip for over two and a half hours. What the band lacked in visuals, was made up for in the amazing lighting and visual effects.
I don’t think I can describe the stage setup and do it any justice; so I’m not really going to go into details. There was a wall of lights along the back, were 2 transparent curtains and a giant LCD wall. Sounds boring, but the transparent curtains were actually a video display, and together with the wall-sized LCD, made the most amazing 3-D visual effects; AND was interactive. As the band came near the front curtain, holes opened to reveal the band standing behind, the closer they got to the screen the less obscure the band got. See, I really can’t do it justice, so just check out the pictures.
In the past I’ve had a terrible time of getting tickets to see NIN in concert – shows selling out in record time- but this show was hardly sold out with the 200 ring virtually empty, and the 100 ring with plenty of seats available. And, like audiences at many concerts I go to now, they were demanding a greatest hits show. More than half the arena spent the show sitting on their asses, with pouts on their faces while the band played an instrumental set from Ghosts I-IV. They only got turned on by the radio and MTV songs, “Closer,” “Head Like A Hole,” “The Hand That Feeds,” and the like. While those fair-weather fans eagerly awaited the hits, the rest of us really appreciated hearing the instrumental set, “La Mer,” Wish,” “Sin,” the Johnny Cash rendition of “Hurt,” and “In This Twilight” among others.
Trent Reznor took a few moments to address the audience, thanking them for so many years of support, and to acknowledge the hard work of the crew and visual effects designers. He also took a moment to reflect how over 20 years ago he was just a kid writing songs to get the demons out, and never dreamed of being a band, and having his music connect with so many people, on so many levels. This got me thinking back to when I first heard of the band, almost 20 years ago.
I first heard of NIN on some local college radio station, while I was going to college at Berklee in Boston, in 1989, and fell in love with them immediately. When I heard about them playing a show at this really small Goth club, called Manray, I had to be there. So, I rallied up my new friends from school to go to the show, but absolutely every one of them wouldn’t go to the show because they never heard of the band, or they all hated the band because it wasn’t heavy metal. Then I was a freshmen at Berklee College of Music, a campus full of metal-heads and Jazz-geeks, me, I was the only Goth-ish one in the bunch, and I was hanging with the metal heads. The night of the show, I headed out on my own, to Cambridge, to see my new favorite band. As I approached the place, I heard the roar of the crowd, I could picture the scene. I couldn’t get a ticket, it was a sold out show. (I know, you get it! Enough with the “Jukebox Hero” already!) I did get to see them the following summer at Lollapolooza, and again at an amazing secret show at Irving Plaza, with Marylin Manso and Meat Beat Manifesto. Almost 20 years later, I’m seeing Nails for the 3rd time, this time at the IZOD Center, in Rutherford, NJ, surrounded by many of those same people that hated the band so long ago!
Partial Set List:
March of the Pigs
Mr. Self Destruct
Into The Void
Head Like A Hole
Something I Can Never Have
The Hand That Feeds
The Greater Good
In This Twilight
< p style="font: normal normal normal 12px/normal Helvetica; margin: 0px">And now, the photos…