Let’s face it – no matter what your Chinese calendar tells ya, it seems indeed that 2005 has been the year of the Reznor, what with the remastered re-release of The Downward Spiral, the release of the new With Teeth album and the succession of shows he and the rest of his Nine Inch Nails crew have put on around the world.
The last of NIN’s London dates took place yesterday – I must say it proved to be one of the better gigs (if not the best), that I’ve seen at the Brixton Academy. I tend not to like that place for a number of reasons – not least among these being the barriers situated near the front (why?). However, last night’s performance proved strong enough for me to put such irritations in the background.
The support, poet-rapper Saul Williams, proved to be quite interesting – despite his generic Lefty political sloganeering. It made a change to see a support that didn’t fall into the same genre bracket as the main act. Unfortunately, much of his set sounded muffled – maybe cos he held the mic too close, but the oversaturation of bass certainly didn’t help matters any!
Anyways, after all that and a half-hour wait, Nine Inch Nails erupted onto the stage, bursting into a superpowered rendition of the much loved ‘Wish’ (off their Broken EP) – hearing X hundred people cry: “BIG TIME HARD LINE BAD LUCK FIST FUCK!” proved a highlight of the evening. I must say, it’s kinda revelatory catching sight of Trent live – he looked like a rivet-driven Mad Max-style biker boy on steroids, rather than the fey lovechild of Byron and Poe so often photographed!However, the sublime ‘Sin’ managed to marry these two opposing impressions quite well – one has to love a song with the chorus: “It comes down to this/your kiss/your fist!” for its sheer perversity in juxtaposition.
Other highlights from last night included a masterful rendition of the industrio-funk-fuck melody ‘Closer’ (from The Downward Spiral); the ultimate ode to losing-it-all ‘Hurt’; and, from the exquisite The Fragile, ‘Starfuckers Inc.’ and the brooding, simmering ‘The Wretched’ – the latter I especially enjoyed, with its slow, thumping, purposeful industrial beats.
Strong mention must go to the material off the new album especially the defiant statement that is ‘Bite The Hand That Feeds’ (immediately following the lovelorn sentiments of ‘Something I Can Never Have’ of Pretty Hate Machine fame) – before the gig, I’d expressed hopes that Trent would keep his pimping of the comparatively lacklustre With Teeth album to a minimum, but I must admit that the tracks played yesterday generally sounded stellar – stronger than on the album at any rate – though they missed out the egoistic declaration that is ‘Only’ – WHY!?
For all the greatness of the gig, soooo many favourites failed to see the glo-light of the vibrant night – what happened to the likes of ‘Heresy’, ‘The Void’, ‘Somewhat Damaged’, ‘Happiness In Slavery’, ‘Ruiner’ ….’The (FUCKING) Becoming’? It’d have been great if Reznor and co. could’ve snatched up the reportedly insane timeslots of Ministry to squeeze a few more chips onto the circuit board. Nevertheless, as much of a shame as it was not to hear those treasured tracks of mine, one certainly couldn’t complain (much) about what had been on offer. The closing middle finger of ‘Head Like A Hole’ (ironically the opening track of Pretty Hate Machine, their first album) bookended this surefire contender for gig of the year….
Hopefully this’ll not be the last I see of this current-surging, hard-wired, broken machine….