Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Nine Inch Nails
ACC Toronto ON

Trent Reznor respects the art of the show. One of a handful of artists on my "must see" list. The past few years have seen him taking his show on the road a little more regularly. This year he's touring his 'free' album, The Slip, but he didn't leave behind what he knows works, those songs we paid for. Before The Slip he released a rather pricey version of Ghosts (if you went for the deluxe package) and I don't mind sending money directly to the artists if they find a way to circumvent the industry. Trent's had a long history of not getting his share, his method of going directly to the fans should be a harbinger of things to come.

More important, he didn't leave behind his voice. A cancelled show last week in Minnesota had us worried. (Note: This is the 2nd artist I've seen this year after they decided to cancel a show in Minnesota. I don't know what that's about but I'm glad I live in Toronto.)

Not only does Trent respect the art of the show, he seeks to elevate it. This "Lights In The Sky" Tour has enlisted The Moment Factory, special visual and audio effects people behind the Cirque Du Soleil extravaganza. Just a little something to add some punch, it is used well and extensively everywhere except during the two parts of Ghosts.

The light show is almost beyond description. It's definitely beyond my ability to describe. What's needed here is a coffee-table book of the storyboards used to create this show. It was superbly integrated to the audio portion of the show both thematically and visually.

Technically it was astounding. Two screens were used, one in front of the band, one behind. At times this resulted in a 3D effect where the players seemed to be moving through and around beams of light. During Only the front screen resembled a television covered in snowy reception...except when Trent stepped up to (into) the screen, at which point he became visible in the midst of the static storm. He'd back up and reappear, 15 feet to his left as the hook repeated... "there is no you, there is ONLY me...", a lone shadowy figure.
Another segment saw the final screen shot shatter like broken glass as the song ended and lights faded. Yet another had the band members enveloped in individual glowing orange body-snatcher pods.

NIN was a breath of fresh air when they came on the scene in the late '80's. Trent had found a way to make industrial music almost accessible. Head Like A Hole is as much an anthem of the disgruntled youth of the waning millenium as Won't Get Fooled Again was to my generation. The 1994 'mudmen' set at Woodstock, featuring the superb Downward Spiral, cemented Trent's place in the rock pantheon. Not one to wear out his welcome he seemed to be liking the 5 year breaks between projects...until the money ran out. The past 5 years have seen him wrap up his obligations to the industry and set out on his path of 'gonzo' marketing.

He's reunited on this tour with guitarist Robin Finck, who has been taking up the slack left by Slash's departure in GnR. Josh Freese on the drums and Allesandro Cortini on keyboards with Justin Meldal-Johnsen rounding out the band on bass. (Thanks to Anonymous Comment for the correction!)

This is one of the few bands I don't mind seeing in the cavernous ACC. They are too big for any other venue. That is big on volume, big on visuals and big on raw emotion. Your head would explode if you saw this show at Massey Hall.

Different story for opening band Deerhunter, who are currently more suited to venues named 'soundlab' or 'artworks' or 'tank' rather than the more imposing 'pavillion' or 'forum' or 'arena'. If you turn down the opening slot on a NIN tour you might as well call it a career. So that's where they find themselves on this hot August night...trying to get thousands of ADD afflicted, Wii-addled, youth to pay a little attention. A respectable job on their part, they filled the venue just like a baby-NIN should.

Trent is a talent to be reckoned with, that's for sure. Besides the aforementioned integrated, interactive light show, he brazenly lays out most of the new record, not taking it easy on the fans.

5 of the first 6 songs are from The Slip. March of the Pigs is tossed in the middle to really get the fans focussed but 1,000,000 and Discipline were both enthusiastically recieved making for an energetic opening segment. Echoplex in the second half of the show makes for 7 songs from the new record. He also played 5 songs from Year Zero, 2 songs from With Teeth and 3 tracks from Ghosts...that's 17 of 29 tracks from the last 3 years/4 albums. This ain't no fading star playing out his days with greatest hits. Next to Jack White he's likely the most prolific talent out there today.

Here's the complete set list with some mp3 samples.

ACC Toronto ON

Disc 1

Track 01 999,999
Track 02 1,000,000
Track 03 Letting You
Track 04 Discipline
Track 05 March of the Pigs
Track 06 Head Down
Track 07 The Frail
Track 08 Closer
Track 09 Gave Up
Track 10 The Warning
Track 11 Vessel
Track 12 Ghosts?
Track 13 Ghosts?
Track 14 Ghosts?
Track 15 Piggy
Track 16 The Greater Good
Track 17 Pinion
Track 18 Wish
Track 19 Terrible Lies

Disc 2

Track 01 Survivalism
Track 02 The Big Come Down
Track 03 Only
Track 04 The Hand That Feeds
Track 05 Head Like A Hole
Track 06 crowd
Track 07 Echoplex
Track 08 God Given
Track 09 Trent Talks
Track 10 The Good Soldier
Track 11 Hurt
Track 12 In This Twilight

Complete Show in a single zipped file, mp3 format


Anonymous said...

Good review!
I was there and it was extraordinary!
Trying to fit in works from 18 years is challenging and Trent always does a good job at anything he puts his mind to!

One error I noticed though. You wrote, "Alessandro Cortini is behind the drums. Josh Freese is also onboard ...", when actually it's Josh Freese on the drums and Cortini on keyboards.

Just pointing it to out to clear the mistake. =)

And thank you for sharing! =)

Ray said...

That show sounds AWESOME! There's a show in Boston in November - I think I'll have to pick up a ticket.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you would post all of the mp3s?

apoc~mf said...

Thanks for the review and the recording. Just finished downloading it and it sounds really good. Great show in Toronto. I also saw the Lollapalooza show. Both were really great performances. I think the larger crowd and festival atmosphere in Chicago made a bigger experience but NIN Toronto shows are always great. I love that they played God Given in Toronto.

Anyways, just wanted to say thanks very much!

spiritsentient said...

hey man, just wanted to say it's awesome that reviews like this exist. it said everything i wanted to say and more, so i linked you on my site.

bravo man, absolutely phenomenal show.

the addition of the bootleg is super icing on the cake. it can't do the performance even close to justice, but some of trent's best re-interpretations of his work are in it.

Adam L said...

hey man, thanks for the review. the link is broken. any chance of getting it fixed?