Nine Inch Nails
Atari Teenage Riot
Brixton Acadamy, London
Monday, November 29
Trent Reznor lays his soul bare for London.
Most people read about Atari Teenage Riot long
before they hear the Berlin quartet's music. All the German berserkers'
"the system is f**ked" and "we want action" quotes give the
impression that this is a band you simply have to see. And anyone who makes the
slightest criticism of ATR is patronisingly told that they just don't "get"
the band. Well, sorry, but tonight ATR are utter shite.
Chin-strokers might make a case for the band's
white noise being the final death rattle of a corrupt society, but you get the
impression that Alec Empire merely wants to f**k all the Goths – a commendable
mission, but a bloody tedious one. For 25 minutes Empire and Nic Endo drag
screeching monotone feedback from their sequencers and decks, while MC Carl
Crack staggers about like a student who's just had his first pint at an indie
disco. Oh, the anarchy of it all… "Atari Teenage Minor Scuffle,"
someone mutters behind me perceptively.
And so to Trent Reznor's Electro-Goth Taste The
Pain Roadshow. From the moment that Generation X's very own Gary Numan begins
wailing that he's 'too f**cked up to care anymore' over the clattering
death-pop of 'Something Damaged' [sic], we know we're in for a hugely
enjoyable, none-more-bleak experience.
There is nothing small scale about NIN live:
this is Grand Guignol horror on an epic scale, a bombastic parade of bitter
words, broken dreams and aching hurt. The staccato stomp of 'March Of The Pigs'
and the blistering 'Starf**kers, Inc.' are dizzying head-f**k blasts of
strobes, synths and screams, 'Into The Void' is all martial beats and
little-boy-lost anguish, and 'Sin' is a rough-as-sandpaper, S&M
cluster-f**k soundtrack. Even when Reznor strips away the layers, accompanying
the exquisite, tinkling delicacy of 'La Mer' and 'The Great Below' with video
footage of oceans, clouds and balletically dividing human cells, it has an
intensity which makes you hold your breath in nervy fear. It's a perfectly
paced, masterful performance.
In the closing minutes, London is treated to a ragingly propulsive
'Head Like A Hole' and the animalistic 'Closer', but tonight was always going
to transcend the traditional 'greatest hits' rock gig. Not since Courtney Love
tottered across this same stage in June has there been such a feeling of
rapture at a London gig.
Reznor might not be the Messiah, but no one
else offers such compelling, harrowing and lucid visions of Heaven and Hell.
Words: Paul Brannigan