Nothing 'Fragile' about driving attack of Nine Inch Nails show
A kinder, gentler Nine Inch Nails?
Get real. Kind and gentle are not exactly
the first words that come to mind after the
group's incendiary performance Saturday
night at the Rose Garden.
Thunderous and assaulting are more like it.
Essentially the nom de band of industrial
music maven Trent Reznor, Nine Inch
Nails is responsible, as much as any other
band, for making heavy angst and
techno-ridden metal a necessary part of a
balanced modern rock diet.
In the tradition of such outcast epics as
Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" and The
Violent Femmes self-titled 1983 debut,
NIN's chart-topping, critic-enthralling
1994 disc "The Downward Spiral" is a
standard-issue accessory of
disenfranchised youth of all ages.
Expanding his one-man outfit to a
ferocious five-piece ensemble, Reznor and
company made their first Portland
appearance in nearly five years, since a
much ballyhooed tour stop with noted rock
'n' roll chameleon/cultural opportunist
While it was exciting to see Reznor play
with his spiritual forefather, this Thin
White Duke-free performance proved to be
much more impressive.
Though the disappointing sounding and
selling recent NIN opus "The Fragile"
probably was a contributing factor to the
smallish turnout, those 6,000 folks who did
bother to show up certainly got more than
their money's worth. Featuring
state-of-the-art lighting courtesy of
designer Marc Brickman, the same guy
who lit Pink Floyd's "The Wall" show, the
group's 100-minute show was a visual as
well as a sonicly dazzling wonder.
Reznor showed why he's still rock's
reigning Mr. Not-Happy as he railed
against demons real, imagined, personal,
professional, and some likely a little of all
of the above. Like a human pinball in his
own personal mosh pit, Reznor bounced
literally and musically off drummer Jerome
Dillon, keyboardist Charlie Clouser and
guitarist/keyboardists Robin Finck and
Danny Lohner as they brought NIN's
savagely sublime symphonies to
percolating, percussive life.
While there are plenty of post-punk
thrashers out there working the aggro-rock
circuit, few fashion together sonic
sculptures as compelling as NIN. Putting
as much effort into one song as most bands
do in an entire set, it's no wonder Reznor
takes sabbaticals between tours and
recordings, as all that onstage raging must
take a massive physical and mental toll.
Amazingly, the group sustained a blistering
intensity throughout its set, slowing down
only for a meandering middle section that
provided a semicalm eye to the NIN storm.
As to be expected, such older tunes as the
discordant selections "Closer" and "Head
Like a Hole" left the most lasting marks,
but newer songs connected as well,
especially the bitter, profanity-laden "Star
Opening act A Perfect Circle scored major
points as the group debuted songs from its
intriguing freshman release, "Mer de
Noms." The delectable dronings from this
new side project from Tool frontman
Maynard James Keenan is punctuated by a
plethora of dark dynamics and Goth-style
textures. The moody Middle
Eastern-flavored motifs may seem slight at
times, but when all is said and done, the
swirling sonic clouds of gloom and doom
have an undeniably seductive allure.
Special thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.