Again with the bucket list – this time I managed to take care of an item that’s quite high up there, namely seeing Nine Inch Nails live in concert.
Back in 2009 when Trent Reznor announced that NIN was going on hiatus (possibly, forever!) I was inconsolable – here I was, a Nine Inch Nails fan who had never gotten the chance to see them live, being told that now I never would! Needless to say, when the new album ‘Hesitation Marks’ was released, and a new tour schedule announced, I wasn’t about to rest on my laurels – as soon as those tickets were released, I was on to them.
Co-headlining with Queens of the Stone Age (another exceptional band, but not one of the ones I had to see before I died), NIN have just begun their tour around Australia and New Zealand. First up was Sydney. Last night, it was Brisbane’s turn…
The Brisbane Entertainment Centre was packed. The crowd was primed. And nobody knew who would be coming onto stage first – word was that Trent and Josh (Homme, lead singer of QOTSA) would flip a coin each night to decide the order of the acts. In this case, it was Nine Inch Nail’s job to warm up the arena (although some prelim work had already been done by Josh Homme’s wife and solo act, Brody Dalle)…
Drawing from a catalogue that spans 25 years and nine albums, NIN’s creator and front-man Reznor, along with current line-up Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini and Ilan Rubin, launched into a blistering set that proved relentless from start to finish. Almost without pause, they jumped from old favourites like “Somewhat Damaged”, “March of the Pigs” and “Terrible Lie” to tracks from their latest offering, “Came Back Haunted” and “Copy of A”. In the end they finished with “The Hand That Feeds”, “Head Like A Hole” and an emotion-filled rendition of “Hurt”, leaving the crowd awestruck by their energy, verve, and the complexity of their stage performance: a true audio-visual experience.
Queens of the Stone Age meanwhile went for a more traditional rock-concert display, leaving the synthesizers aside for the most part and relying on good old-fashioned guitar and drum solos. Josh Homme played-up to the crowd with typical rock-star swagger, while Troy Van Leeuwen, Dean Fertita, Michael Shuman and Jon Theodore backed him up, energising the crowd early on with hits like “No One Knows”, “Burn the Witch” and “Little Sister”, before settling into less familiar territory with new songs like “Smooth Sailing” and “Fairweather Friends”. By the end the crowd were threatening to tear the house down, so “Go With The Flow” and encore-worthy “A Song for the Dead” rounded it out nicely.
Overall, I’d say I enjoyed watching NIN more, but that’s a personal thing. It was interesting to see the contrast between the two bands: one tightly-controlled and almost operatic, if you consider multi-layered electro-industrial rock loud enough to shake the roof operatic; the other a traditional mish-mash of anti-authoritative attitude and heavy riffs.
So there you go – tick that one off!