Concert Sutra Down In It With Nine Inch Nails
by terri sapp
Photographs by terri sapp (from the pit) and Leah Yetter (from the balcony)
© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved
In my wildest dreams, nothing sexier could be
Than Trent Reznor’s muscles glistening back at me
The intensity and message that comes from his song
Makes me wonder how before him I ever got along
Conjuring high energy and strong emotion never fails
Coming from the power that will always be Nine Inch Nails
Having waited for this night since the day “Pretty Hate Machine” boomed from the speakers of my high school cd player, I would have to say that spending the evening with Nine Inch Nails, no matter what the lineup, was monumental. In support of their latest, long awaited, studio album, “With Teeth,” Nine Inch Nails has launched a club tour across the globe equipped to blow the roof off of these smaller venues. Front man and only official member, Trent Reznor, along with his newest touring lineup of musicians, definitely left a mark on Atlanta, Georgia that will not soon be forgotten. Atlanta was lucky enough to have had two opportunities to catch this rare intimate tour, both Saturday, May 21, 2005 and Sunday, May 22, 2005. Although, only a handful of fans (comparatively) were able to score tickets, since both shows, and most shows on this tour, sold out within minutes.
Leah and I were overjoyed to have the chance to catch one of these jewels. Sunday, May 22, 2005 in Atlanta, Georgia at (ironically enough an ex-Baptist church) the Tabernacle presented an experience matched by few. On a majority of this leg of the “With Teeth” tour, Nine Inch Nails is joined by special guests, The Dresden Dolls, a punk cabaret duo from Boston, Massachusetts. Amanda Palmer (Piano, Vocals) and Brian Viglione (Drums, Acoustic Guitar) were a perfect match for the Atlanta crowd, who lapped up every bit of what they laid out. Their radio played, “Coin Operated Boy” got the night off to a wonderfully perverted start. Followed by their covers of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” and Radiohead’s “Karma Police” with Nine Inch Nails drummer. These two had just the right energy to pump this crowd.
Alessandro Cortini (keyboards, sample sounds), Jerome Dillon (drums), and Aaron North (guitar), previously with punk band “The Icarus Line,” have joined Jeordie White (bass, guitar), formerly infamous as Twiggy Ramirez of Marilyn Manson’s crew, to form the ideal touring band with Nine Inch Nails originator Trent Reznor. The intimacy of the Tabernacle is a bit overwhelming when dealing with a group such as this who everyone in the house wants to be close to. For the first half of the show, I lodged myself in the pit on the floor in hopes of catching a good long glimpse of Reznor at work. When the notes of “Wish” began to ring out, every body in the house went wild. For sure an indication of what they had in store for us.
From the newly released studio album, “With Teeth,” “You Know What You Are?” kicks infectious drums and lyrics to match. Another song from this new album, “The Line Begins to Blur” follows suit with great power. White’s bass thumps throughout this little ditty, and Cortini’s sounds fill the place continuously. These songs are proof that Trent Reznor rocks as hard as he ever did. The first scare of actually being knocked to the ground, “March of the Pigs/All the Pigs, All Lined Up” from “The Downward Spiral,” added about a thousand knots to the energy level, especially in the sea of people on the front end of the pit. Surfing the crowd, without even leaving the floor. Waves take over as the band takes it down a little, but keeping the bacon theme, with “Piggy.” “Nothing can stop me now ‘cause I just don’t care anymore” were my exact sentiments as I left the pit for a bit of breathing room with my buddy in the balcony!
Another old favorite of mine, “Terrible Lie” was a treat to hear. I just love when artists open up their souls and direct songs to God. “Hey God, there’s nothing left for me to hide. I lost my ignorance, security and pride. I’m all alone in a world you must despise. Hey God, I believed the promises, the promises and lies.” True intimacy. From one of my favorite movies, “Burn” could not have come at a better time. A real mix of true talent is what Reznor has found in Cortini, Dillon, North, and White, evidenced in their performance of this Nine Inch Nails classic. “Flock of sheep all on display with all your lies piled up around you.” There seems to be a general theme to the set list from what I can tell.
Onto the more animalistic part of the show, one of my all time favorite Nine Inch Nails anthems, “Closer,” is always welcome to my ears. I was hoping to be able to actually see Reznor utter those words. It’s like he was reading my mind. He definitely took the words right out of my mouth… More from “The Downward Spiral,” “Reptile” gives me the distinct impression that somewhere along the way, Trent Reznor ran into some serious issues with some major deceit.
From “The Fragile,” “The Big Come Down” shows cool vocal harmonies that sneak out through the hard industrial sounds of these instruments. “Gave Up” also brings some interesting vocals on, “smashed up my sanity, smashed up my integrity…smashed up what’s left of me…gonna smash myself to pieces, I don’t know what else to do.” Obviously, Reznor has never fully given up yet. He still comes strong with full on hardcore. Even on the “softer” songs, such as “The Day The World Went Away,” the drums are strong and bass still permeates the air. The stage set up on this tour is also unbelievably notable. In back of the band are planks of lights that are set up to look like stadium lights, as well as digital sound levels keeping the beat. They go splendidly with the beat of “Suck.” “Suck” really revealed the genius that is the bass of Jeordie White. Something about this particular song spotlights his skills as a funky bass rocker.
A gem coming from “With Teeth,” “Getting Smaller” is not at all where Trent Reznor or Nine Inch Nails seem to be going. Reznor is actually far from “just a face in the crowd.” His chiseled facial features, coupled with fully filled out, ripped arms was enough for Reznor to never ever “fade away,” from my memories at least. Slowing the mood with “Even Deeper” keeps a balance to the flow of the show, which is important when rocking out with this style of music. Otherwise, the audience wears down for an anticlimactic end. The slower songs give everyone in the pit a chance to determine “just how damaged have I become?” Also on “With Teeth,” Reznor says “Love is Not Enough,” but judging by the sacrifices of the people in pit ocean down front, I would have to disagree. With that in mind, Reznor breaks out a keyboard and attempts to dedicate a “nice song” to a “special friend,” some guy named Tiffany with some bands that were in the house, who had seen his first NIN show the night before, but then Reznor realized he has “not written any nice songs,” so “Hurt” was “as close as it gets.” This very touching rendition of what has become a classic Nine Inch Nails ballad, especially after Johnny Cash made a haunting cover of it before his death, was one of the most heartfelt moments of the show, “I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.”
Once the soft side has been revealed, controversial “With Teeth” track, “The Hand That Feeds” booms out “What if this whole crusade’s a charade and behind it all there’s a price to be paid for the blood on which we dine, justified in the name of the holy and the divine. Just how deep do you believe? Will you bite the hand that feeds? Will you chew until it bleeds? Can you get up off your knees? Are you brave enough to see? Do you want to change it?” I love this new album, and feel that it is right up there with previous powerhouse records. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, they end the show with my first favorite Nine Inch Nails songs ever, from “Pretty Hate Machine,” “Head Like A Hole.” Trent is playing along on his guitar, making for a very strong guitar sound. “Head like a hole, black as your soul. I’d rather die than give you control.” The balcony actually dances along with this one. I believe that for the few minutes this song lasted, the entire building was moving, literally.
Nine Inch Nails will be touring throughout the rest of the Summer, but if you haven’t seen them by now, you will have to go overseas to catch a show, if you can get tickets. The rest of the Summer, they will be all over the globe. Their United States leg was more than successful, selling out every night. Experience the fun that we had on this “With Teeth” tour for yourself by visiting our wonderful photo gallery at http://www.concertsutra.com/nin052205/. For a look at the opening act, The Dresden Dolls, check out their website at http://www.dresdendolls.com/main1.htm. Of course, for more information on upcoming Nine Inch Nails not to be missed tours, etc. and for access into the wonderfully dark wit of Trent Reznor’s fan interaction blog, go to www.nin.com.