Yes, that little circle indicates where I was standing during the entire performance. A performance that quite easily blew my mind. I have been a huge NIN fan since I started listening to rock music in high school. (Yes, I only listened to movie soundtracks in elementary… and not the “music inspired by” kind, orchestrated soundtracks!) Opening with the song, Love is Not Enough, from With Teeth, Trent came out swinging. A thin veil covered the stage which hid the band for the majority of the song and all that could be seen were the outlines of the members as they rocked out. The veil lifted and the show really took off.
The exact order of the set is a blur now. But my best guess shows that the guys pounded through 21 songs in less than 1 hour and 40 minutes. The stage show was impecable. Very simple, but powerful. They had these little monuments around the stage in weird shapes that turned out to be all LCD screens. A larger one in the back was used in combination during The Line Begins to Blur to draw lines across as the others began to burn red like fire. Crazy.
The highlight of the show for me was the live performance of Eraser. This was done again with the veil dropped and had a video presentation displayed on it. It began with the classic NIN nature show of wild animals killing each other, decomposing, and so on. But at the pinnacle of the song, which is really about someone reaching the end of all hope and contemplating suicide, the video changed to showing scenes of the Iraq war. I have to say I was blown away. The power of the song had been redirected from hopelessness of self, to hopelessness of humanity. Are we in effect no better than the savage animals seen just seconds before? It left me pondering for the rest of the evening.
With the veil still down, Trent began to play a slower version of Right Where It Belongs. This song contrasted images of nature again with humans and war, but also with humans and… happiness? Interspersed in the film were clips of young suburban people in khakis with smiling kids and shiny mini-vans. People dancing at black and white balls. Then war and suffering. The lyrics in the background, “What if everything around you isn’t quite as it seems? What if all the world you think you know is an elaborate dream?” Powerful. The peak of the show was when one of the dancers slowly turned to reveal themselves as George W Bush dancing with Laura Bush. The first boos of the evening erupt.
The show then roars to life again with songs like, “You Know What You Are” and “Burn.” The other surprises of the evening included live versions of “Deep” which finally sounded good and “Down In It” which has cheesy early 90’s rap written all over it. The mosh pit stops as no one wants to admit that this genre of music is good. I chuckle.
Finishing with Head Like A Hole, the fans thank the band for an amazing ride. Drenched in sweat and probably a few bruises, the band thrashes a few more things on the stage and takes off. Trent seems to smile. It’s nice to know he’s back doing what he loves. And I know I will be back for the next show for sure.