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  • Live Review: Nine Inch Nails - Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville

    Fri, 08 Aug 2008 17:21:00

    Live Review: Nine Inch Nails - Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville - Bow down

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    • Nine Inch Nails - PEMBERTON, BC - JULY 18: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs during the Pemberton Music and Arts Festival on July 18, 2014 in Pemberton, British Columbia.
    • Nine Inch Nails - PEMBERTON, BC - JULY 18: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs during the Pemberton Music and Arts Festival on July 18, 2014 in Pemberton, British Columbia.
    • Nine Inch Nails - PEMBERTON, BC - JULY 18: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs during the Pemberton Music and Arts Festival on July 18, 2014 in Pemberton, British Columbia.

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    It's official. A Nine Inch Nails performance can no longer be described as a dangerous situation. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly doesn't mean they have lost their touch live. If anything, fans may be witnessing a turning of the page when attending any of the Lights In The Sky Over North America dates. If 2005 marked a rebirth for NIN mastermind Trent Reznor, and subsequent touring was part of his transformation, then suffice to say, his transformation is complete. Reznor should no longer be viewed in the simple terms of being a musician performing on stage; rather he is an artist, and the stage is his canvas. With each tour, fans should expect something new and something better.


    Photo: Andrew Gargano

    Casting aside some of the visual and aural staples that comprised a classic Nine Inch Nails performance, the quintet took the deceptively simple and empty stage and opened the night with the first four tracks off the newest release, The Slip. For the first half of the set, the crowd was enamored by Reznor's presence and delivery. But after the increased energy levels of "March of the Pigs," "Closer" and "Gave Up" began to fade, the stage took on a life of its own. The back wall of lights morphed into serene images that would provide the ambiance necessary for nearly twenty minutes worth of predominantly instrumental material from Ghosts that concluded with the ghostly rendition of The Downward Spiral's "Piggy." The lights gave the appearance that Nine Inch Nails was playing in a rainstorm, underwater, in a boggy marsh and on a desert dune.


    Photo: Andrew Gargano

    The night kicked into high gear upon completion of the instrumental Ghosts sub set, with its orchestra appeal complete with bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen's playing of a standup bass. As the room darkened, the hum of "Pinion" echoed through the arena as Reznor used a spotlight to "erase" the video gate that separated band from crowd. "Pinion" into "Wish" and then "Terrible Lie" provided the highest energy of the night, and it seemed that finally, more than an hour into the show, things had picked up. The quick eight song burst of energy ended with "Head Like A Hole," and was followed by a short break and ensuing night-concluding encore consisting of "Echoplex," "God Given," "The Good Soldier," "Hurt," and "In This Twilight."

    Musically, Nine Inch Nails was extremely tight, helped in part by the additions of reunited guitarist Robin Finck and new bassist Meldal-Johnsen. Finck appeared as vivacious as he was during his previous stint with NIN and Meldal-Johnsen looked more natural than someone two months young as part of the touring lineup. Few times throughout the set Reznor failed to reach some of the highest notes, but otherwise there were few signs he was suffering vocally. His rasping was audible only when he addressed the crowd, and even that interaction was minimal during the band’s encore. Reznor's sickness would later be confirmed as he was forced to postpone the following night's show in Worcester, Massachusetts.

    Throughout the performance, the aforementioned deceptively simple and empty staging was used as a completely lit, yet transparent gate and video screen. It was a faux touch screen playable keyboard, and during "Survivalism," the background even provided "live feed" video of venue hallways and bathrooms, split with on-stage footage and a "censored" screen. But while technology was increasingly more abundant than in the past, it was not the only memorable aspect of the show.


    Photo: Andrew Gargano

    The two-hour show was comprised of a 29 song set list, with sixteen songs taken from The Slip, Ghosts and Year Zero. While this provided more than half a show's worth of songs that were new to the set list, a plus for even the most passionate NIN fans, the trade off was the omission of great deep Nine Inch Nails cuts, making the remaining "greatest hits" seem more like obligatory filler than a real treat for fans. Songs like "Head Like A Hole," "Closer," "Terrible Lie," and "Hurt," each add their own level of energy and cannot be forgotten, but it would have been nice to experience some of the deeper tracks European audiences were teased with nightly in 2007.


    Photo: Andrew Gargano

    It was apparent that Reznor gave die-hard fans a never-before-seen-live NIN experience by packing his set with songs from 2007 and later. But why stop there? Nineteen ninety four and the Self Destruct Tour are clearly in the past, but if anything, and after years of touring, it should be obvious that Nine Inch Nails is not about appeasing the casual fan, but rather further captivating the crazed fans. Few can get away with never playing their biggest hits, but Reznor may just be among the few. Seriously Trent, fans would rarely complain if songs the likes of "Heresy," "Last," or "I Do Not Want This" occasionally replaced two or three of the bigger hits on any given night.

    Andrew Gargano
    08.08.08




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