“Copy Of A”
“March of the Pigs”
“All Time Low”
“Came Back Haunted”
“The Big Come Down”
“The Hand That Feeds”
“Head Like A Hole”
“While I’m Still Here”
This Tension 2013 video captures an awesome concert. Literally, I’ve been watching for hours in complete awe-struck bliss. This is everything that a great artistic performance should be. Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails take the audience on a roller coaster thrill ride, complete with stimulations for your mind, body, and soul.
My recommendation: Turn the YouTube video resolution as high as possible using the gear looking button in the player above, dim the lights, and put on headphones or just crank the volume up on your speakers.
There are a few things about this that are special. The stage and light show is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve had multiple friends who saw NIN on their latest tour tell me the same thing. All the musicians play multiple instruments exceptionally well. Even though this takes place in an arena, there’s an intimate feeling. This is only part of a film that will be released as DVD and Blu-Ray in 2014.
The opening song, “Copy of a” is one of my favorite songs of 2013 because it’s got a great groove, and it’s got lyrics that are a cool unique take on existential philosophy in the digital age. The tape loops and synthesizers create an incredibly layered track that still breathes and flows organically.
“March of the Pigs” contains one of the most signature moments in the history of hard rock. The seething fury of the song is offset by a certain calm confidence. Also, some really cool crowd interaction here as they sing along. Things break down to just piano and vocals before the band goes back into full rage mode. This was followed by “Piggy,” another song released on 1994’s The Downward Spiral, which will be coming up on a 20th anniversary next year. The bluesy “Piggy” is accompanied by a blue show and another crowd singalong.
It’s worth mentioning again that the light show is one of the best light shows that any rock band has ever had. Completely appropriate to the music. Completely tasteful. It really enhances the musical experience. For more information on the light show and evolution of the stage setup throughout the year, check out the behind the scenes videos (Part 1 and Part 2).
“All Time Low” is ice cold funk with a digital bite. Reznor’s pained vocal is accompanied by two females halfway through the song, and things start to smooth out a little. I can feel shades of The Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, a masterpiece film directed by Jonathan Demme.
Beyond the light show, the stage setups are changing through the show seamlessly, which is extremely cool from an audience perspective and really impressive from a technical standpoint. The combination of the lights and the stage setup creates completely unique optical illusions that make you feel like you’re watching a science fiction movie that’s been manipulated with CGI special effects. But this isn’t The Matrix. This is real. I’ll try not to gush too much, but this is fucking awesome.
“Disappointed” provides a bit of a mental breather from the intensity of the earlier songs, while providing some gorgeous eye candy. This sets the stage for “Came Back Haunted,” another song off NIN’s latest album Hesitation Marks. “Came Back Haunted” was highlighted by the band with a couple different music videos, and for good reason. It’s an infectious rocker. This performance is especially epic.
The 1989 throwback “Sanctified” is accented beautifully by the female backup singers. This is followed by “In Two” (Hesitation Marks, 2013), “The Big Come Down” (The Fragile, 1999), and “The Hand That Feeds” (With Teeth, 2005). These are all really good songs, but this would have been the time to go to the bathroom or get another beer.
The next song, “Head Like A Hole,” takes things to a higher level. The driving groove and and the sound of the low end are just completely out of this world. Only a handful of bands can combine electronic music with rock music to create a cohesive sound that doesn’t suck. Nine Inch Nails are one of those bands. “Even Deeper” finds the band going back to organic sounds that bring to mind Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, as female vocals wail over distorted slide guitar in a psychedelic whirlwind.
Reznor takes a minute to thank the crowd, saying “Thank you very much for taking the journey with me.” And then introduces the band (from left to the right):
Josh Eustis – Guitars, Keyboards, Baritone Saxophone & Vocals
Pino Palladino – Bass
Ilan Rubin – Drums, Piano & Vocals
Alessandro Cortini – Tape Loops, Synthesizers, Guitars & Vocals
Lisa Fischer – Vocals
Sharlotte Gibson – Vocals
Robin Finck – Guitar, Keyboards & Vocals
“While I’m Still Here” is another song from the new album, and perhaps not known as well as the other new songs performed this evening. This is the kind of song that plays a lot cooler to see performed live, as opposed to played on an album or a radio playlist. There’s a triumphant feeling to the slow paced tune. The name of the film is Tension 2013, and this song feels like the release to all that tension. Josh Eustis’ baritone sax playing is stupendous. Again, I’m hearing some Dark Side of the Moon here. Again, I’m loving it.
The final song of the concert, “Hurt,” seems to strip away any barriers between the band and the audience. Reznor lays his soul down, with Robin Finck playing the bare acoustic guitar part. The changes through the song are tremendously powerful as the rest of the band locks in to shift the mood back and forth between darkness and a feeling that I can only describe as uplifting. As Reznor walks off stage, the band is still blasting noise. The crowd has just gone through a mind blowing concert experience. Very satisfying.