Posted on 2013/07/27 02:08
  • Live Report
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NIN battle rain and lightning in dramatic start of current tour.

Nine Inch Nails have never been afraid of the weather but this is crazy. The band’s first show in four years, and the kick-off concert for a multi-continent tour is going to opening the midst of a thunderstorm!

Half an hour before Trent and company are to take the stage and the air is full of electricity, and raindrops as big as grapes turning nearby streams into rushing torrents. Overhead, lightning flashes over the mountains, illuminating the sky above the stage. If one thing is certain, tonight’s live web stream is gonna look good, and maybe this is the reason they’ve  decided to turn off the video monitors on either side of the stage.

The weather has led to some interesting problems for me and a photographer covering the show. First we hitch a ride in the back of a flatbed truck on an access road behind the stage, but the rain is too heavy and we need to switch to a van lest thousands of dollars of camera gear get ruined before the show starts.

We reach the stage and my heart sinks, the band is in a straight line at the front of the stage with a simple white backdrop, with footlights creating tall shadows. This was exactly the formation  I remember from my last memory of NIN, some 20 years ago in an upstairs club called the Phantasy in Cleveland. Would they really be so nuts to go minimal with their stage setting with such a big tour and album release coming?

Tonight’s web stream will definitely find its way to hardcore fans who’ve been waiting for the new long player  Hesitation Marks which is due in September. And tonight they roll out a world  premier with the hard charging  “Copy of A.”  It’s a audio-visual double punch. The second tune was “Sanctified,” and then the big singlewhichthis tour is hinging upon, “Came Back Haunted.”

It’s the perfect mix of new and old that will excite the fan base.  Mother nature is also doing its part to help, keeping the lightning just far away not to be a danger. During breaks between songs, there is the occasional sound of thunder which heightens tonight’s soundtrack.

Eventually, the white backdrop separate to reveal an impressive drum kit that will provide the percussion for the rest of the night. The lighting rigs are powered by stage hands, alternating in color, look and intensity as they move about the stage throughout the night. At some points they resemble a bug zapper with green flittering and buzzing, other times a beautiful red backdrop to frame Trent’s impressive physique.

Everything is on tonight, and judging by the rigorous tour schedule, there’s no room for error.  Towards the end of the 90-minute set, hits such as “Head Like A Hole” and the lush closer, “Hurt,” close out this incredible set. There is a surprise at the end, but that’s why one needs to see the band in concert to get the full experience.

A full set list is here