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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Nine Inch Nails - Illumination Of An Iconoclast

When I heard NIN were playing a couple of one off gigs over in England, I couldn't believe my luck, Trent himself said it had been a long time and he wasn't kidding! (…) Come 5pm we were sat in the car as I planned how I was going to get the recording equipment into the place. The ticket said 'no professional type' recording tapes, and although the stuff I was using was so far removed from this word 'professional', I thought security would still want to give me a hard time about it. By 5:30pm we were queuing up outside the Brixton academy, the heavens were still wide open as they had been all day and it was cold, wet, dark and miserable, but for a couple of minutes we were entertained by Trent doing a sound check inside. By around 6:30 my feet were blocks of ice, but the rain was slowly coming to a stop; the queue seemed to be growing exponentially!
Just after 7pm the doors finally opened (unfortunately not of the Jim Morrison variety!), we started to pour in. Approaching the doors I started to regret bringing any recording equipment along with me, the security seemed tight and they were checking bags and people thoroughly! When security finally got round to me I just acted pretty cool, but in a sort of soliquoy way I was thinking "S*it, s*it, they're going to find this stuff and get funny about it". They didn't, and I felt a lot better for it!
We made our way up to the balcony area and were presented with an incredible stage. I'm not sure how to describe it... basically it was a large Mediterranean type house, with the stage in the middle, whatever it was it was most impressive! Anyhow, we sat down on the edge of a row, which was a big mistake as we had to keep standing up to let people past (including this guy who looked like Marilyn Manson - the dude had breasts! I was scared!) I guess it was about 8pm when the support band, Atari Teenage Riot, hit the stage.
Let me just contemplate my thoughts here, I want to describe Atari's music to you... Are you old enough to remember those old Atari home consoles with the bat and ball game (I'm in my early 20's)? Well imagine if they had the capability of producing music - now you can picture the quality of sound we are talking about! Where the hell did this guys come from, they just played one massive song which lasted nearly an hour I guess. There's not a chance in hell they could remember what they were playing, so I can only assume they make it up as they go along! I imagine you'd have to be on drugs to appreciate the music (I mean noise), there was virtually no beat, the vocals were swamped with so much effect that it sounded like a mess and the lighting effects were enough to send everyone into epileptic fits!! Words can not convey the lameness of this band, you have to hear it to believe it (they'd probably find my words to be a complement!), I really don't know what Trent was thinking of, if he did have any part in choosing a support act.
With a glad heart, and appreciation from my ears (which are still ringing as I write now), some quieter more melodic songs came through the P.A. until the intro. music of Nine Inch Nails began to play (no-one was actually aware this was the intro. music until the Somewhat Damaged riff came in and Nine Inch Nails filled the stage). Trent took central stage with a guitar around his neck strumming the chords that opened up Somewhat Damaged. To his left (my right) was the guitarist, and his right (my left) the bassist with the drummer behind the guitarist and Trent, I'm afraid I don't know the band tour members' names, but there were more people on stage to play on certain tracks. As soon as Trent was on stage, then our balcony position, strictly no standing, all stood up! One of the first things to grab my attention was the amazing array of lights and lighting effects used; I'd read about amazing light displays at NIN gigs before, but did not realise how impressive they were until now. I'd already started recording the gig by now, but the sound was so loud (but still very crisp) that I didn't think they'd be a chance in hell that my little cheap microphone could absorb it all, anyway I was more concerned about watching and listening to the band by this point.
Throughout the gig I had to keep moving out the way for people to squeeze past including 'marilyn manson with breasts' (who stood on my bag!) which was pretty frustrating, mind you, I was a little concerned that me and my friend were blocking the view of the people behind, we're both in excess of 6 foot, and although the rows are raised slightly I know of the frustration of watching the back of somebody's head when you'd rather be watched the band on stage!
Well, what else can I say? The songs are described on my 'music files' page... When La Mer came on, a silk screen descended and covered the stage as images of the sea were projected onto it. Then the lights behind the screen illuminated the iconoclast (Trent), and then the other band members which were visible through this translucent projection. It was all very impressive! I feeling pretty tired now, so I think I'll conclude this review as I come down from my exhilaration...
I know Trent is a shy and reserved guy (much like myself), but given such a platform to present yourself on, it seemed a shame that he didn't talk to the audience more between songs. That's also a criticism of the Rage Against The Machine gig I'd seen in London not so long ago, you'd have thought Zak de la Rocha would have a lot to say! Despite the lack of communication between songs, Reznor and the crew seemed to give it their all, but saying that I think he may of chilled out slightly: whether its because he's getting older, or the change in hair-do's I don't know; the power of the vocals was there in its entirety, but I was hoping to see the stage smashed up along with the odd guitar and keyboard! Perhaps with these one off gigs they're performing, they can't afford to do this! Nevermind! All in all, this is the best gig I have been to and one I shall always cherish and remember, especially with my recorded memento which I wish to share with the world - ain't the Internet brilliant! :o)

By Gavin Banns

Somewhat Damaged*
March Of The Pigs
The Frail
The Wretched
NIN - Brixton 29th November 1999Reptile
No You Dont Gave Up
La Mer
The Great Below*
The Way Out Is Through*
Into The Void
Down In It Head
Like a Hole*
The Day the World Went Away*
Starfuckers Inc.
Closer Hurt

LOCATION / VENUELondon Brixton Academy DATE29–11–99



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