Danke, Nils!





Febraur 2002




Autor: Paul Brannigan und Ian Winwood





And All That Could Have Been

(Nothing Promo CD)


No-one listens to live albums anymore do they? The theory is that live albums take you out of your bedroom and into the heart of the action, your synapses tingling, adrenaline surging, and within touching distance of your heroes. Do they f**k. You don‘t come away from listening to even the best live albums with a flushed face, your favourite T-shirt stuck to your body and bruises down your arms caused by some macho prick in a white vest. No, for the most part listening to a live album is like being forced to sit through a slideshow of someone else‘s holiday photos — a tedious experience leaving you unmoved, distant and utterly unfulfilled.

In truth, the best gigs have little to do with what‘s being played onstage, they‘re about a communal outpouring of emotion, an opportunity to lose yourself in an alternate reality. Think of all the times that you‘ve seen people stage-diving during ballads at gigs — the actual soundtrack is incidental. You could write most gig set-lists yourself before leaving the house anyway because, fragile little souls that they are, rock bands want to be adored once they step onto a stage. All that, ‘We do this for ourselves and lf anyone else likes it that‘s a bonus‘ bollocks is replaced by a formulaic trot through a ‘best of‘ collection which pleads, ‘This is what you wanted isn‘t it?‘

Nine Inch Nails‘ ‘FragilityV2.0‘ US tour was the best arena rock show I‘ve ever seen. An utterly absorbing transcendent experience, it featured a stunning light show created by Pink Floyd‘s lighting designer Arthol Stargood, and beautiful, arresting, slow motion elemental films. The DVD of ‘And All That Should Have Been‘, painstakingly assembled by Trent Reznor, will doubtless do justice to that incredible show. This CD, however, doesn‘t trigger any flashbacks of that May 2000 night spent gawping in awe at Messrs Reznor, Clouser, Lohner, Finck and Dillon rewriting arena rock convention in Houston‘s Compaq Center. Instead it merely reminds you what a great back catalogue they‘ve amassed over the past decade.

Featuring nothing so lowbrow as onstage banter (puh-lease...), ‘And All That Could Have Been‘ is essentially an NIN live ‘Best Of‘ with occasional, unobtrusive bursts of crowd noise. There s logic to this of course. When bands release a greatest bits compilation it‘s often a tacit admission that their best days are behind them. A live album, on the other hand, allows bands to demonstrate that they‘re still a virile and vital outfit — albeit by merely beefing up the same songs in a live setting. By Trent Reznor‘s own admission, NIN are not shifting enough ‘units‘ to the MTV demographic, and in these times of nu-metal domination, they‘re now viewed at best as a lovable curio and at worst as a complete irrelevance. But this flexing of back catalogue muscle raises a cornstarch-covered finger to the unwashed masses and sneers, ‘Look what you‘re missing out on, jerky!‘.

The 16-song set captured on ‘All That Could Have Been‘ is glorious. By turns bombastic, claustrophobic, mesmerizing and terrifying, it‘s an intense, beautifully paced and artfully constructed performance. The exquisite delicacy of ‘The Great Below‘, the martial beats of ‘Sin‘, the propulsive thrust of ‘Starf* *kers Inc.’ and the filthy eroticism of ‘Closer‘ all demonstrate that HIN have a grace, poise and power that few bands of their generation understand, let alone possess. Add in a limited edition bonus disc (‘Still‘)  featuring gossamer-fine piano-led new tracks and ‘deconstructions‘ of familiar ‘ songs such as ‘The Fragile‘ and ‘The Becoming‘, and you‘ve a tidy package which will satisfy both hardcore fans and act as a enticing carrot for the ‘TRL‘ generation who can‘t be arsed sifting through NIN‘s conceptual albums in their entirety. A live album worth owning? Hmmm, clever man, that Trent Reznor.

Paul Brannigan


“There is some fixing on the record.“

Trent Reznor spills the beans on all that should have been...

Live albums can sometimes be tricky. How do you think ‘And All That Could Have Been‘ turned out?

Trent Reznor: “I’m real pleased with it. I was very hesitant to even consider doing it because I found that as a fan I rarely listen to live albums. Usually there’s no real point to them, they‘re either there to get nut of a contract or something else like that, Rarely can I think of an album that‘s live that I’ve liked recently, but these have been some classic ones in the past such as Kiss ‘Alive‘ or Cheap Tricks ‘At Budokan‘, which, at the time, I think were albums that offered versions of the songs that were better than their studio counterparts.”

You‘re releasing it over a variety of formats with different track-listings on each one. Why?

Trent: “Well the reason for this is that it‘s not simply a one format deal. For example, on the DVD we wanted the tracks that looked the best because obviously a visual aspect comes with the format. Whereas on the CD it was crucially important that the thing that mattered was the sound. So in that respect, it was the sonics of the performance that led me to go a particular route. Plus I wanted to give a full range of the songs we were playing on the tour. It‘s a good interpretation of all the things we were doing at that time.

There‘s always murmurs that live albums aren‘t actually live. Did any ‘fixing‘ take place in the Studio?

Trent: “Well, there is some fixing on the record, but it’s still pretty much ‘what you hear is what you get’. You know, you may be playing a song live and you get caught up in the atmosphere and it all sounds great. It might be, though, that you get to listen to the track in the studio and there’s a guitar that‘s out of tune. Now sometimes that might be out of tune in a good way, and so you leave it; but sometimes it might be out of tune in a bad way, in a way that doesn‘t sound good away from the concert environment. So in those instances we did do some touching up. But it‘s still very much a live record.

Q&A by Ian Winwood