NINE INCH NAILS
JESUS GOD, you think, about time they got going
with this anti-smoking legislation its murder in here. Thing is, its not the
fug of cigarette smoke that’s choking the Manchester Apollo tonight. Its dry
ice pumped from the stage wrapping itself around everything. It’s so you can’t
see the figure at the front of the room who walks out without introduction and
with the houselights still lit, begins singing “Somewhat Damaged”. The crowd
cheer but hesitantly almost nervously it’s only when the silhouette turns
sideways and you see its nose can you be sure that it’s Trent Reznor.
The first 10 minutes of Nine Inch Nails‘ second
night in England’s third city are irritating and
confusing a disaster in the making. Of course this is a band led by a man who is
about as likely to make it easy for you as he is to launch into a cover of “Yellow
Submarine”. But still. As the musicians judder away beneath five metal
lampshades and before five vertical striplights you can’t see what’s going on.
The stage-set looks like it came free with five litres of petrol. The sound is
perfect but the show is very — what’s
the word — art. Look at your watch…
is that all? God. They’re not going to do this all night are they?
Well, yes and no. But at some point during the
105 minute set the experience goes from being the work of an awkward shit who
charges 22 quid for this to being a not at all vulgar display of power that
leaves 3 000 people sated and elated. As things progress — through an immense “March
Of The Pigs”, a livid “Wish” through “Hurt” and “Gave Up” - the colours lighting the stage begin to
blossom, so it doesn’t really matter (actually it even helps) that what you’re
watching looks like a UFO landing in thick fog. You can make of it what you
will but understand this: Nine Inch Nails are almost 20 years old and people
are still hanging on every note that Trent Reznor plays. This is a state of
affairs that very few bands can equal. “Starfuckers Inc” bleeds into “Head Like
A Hole” and the band leave the stage even though you can’t be a 100 per cent sure
about that. All around the crowd makes a noise of the purest adoration. They
will be here next time and the next time and the time after that. And while
you might not be able to see the band in front
of your face, this much is clear.
How Was It For You?
“This tour has been kind of brutal, because
we‘re playing six shows on and then one night off. On top of that I went from
working on [forthcoming Nine Inch Nails album] ‘Year Zero‘ to being onstage.
One day was in Los Angeles working on the album, the next day I was
standing in front of an audience in Lisbon. I was totally jet lagged. “It can
be a little difficult getting your head round what you‘re doing, and at first
the tour felt a little bit strange Also we haven’t toured Europe as much as we
should have done, which is down to a variety of reasons but all of which are
our fault. But now we‘re getting into our stride. Basically we change the set
around every night, and we‘re at the point now where we can basically play any
song from any album. That means that it doesn‘t become routine for us and so
the shows are always fresh.“