Down In It

Boy, I’ve had one crazy busy week. So today I’m playing catch-up on concert reviews. First up TV on the Radio, Bauhaus, and Nine Inch Nails at Nissan Pavilion.

Before I knew Bauhaus were there, I wasn’t going to attend this show. I was a huge NIN fan back in the Downward Spiral heyday, but I swore off seeing NIN live after seeing the two most perfect Nine Inch Nails shows there could ever be; the infamous Woodstock ’94 ‘Mud’-set and a kick-ass one in Louisville that transformed Muhammad Ali Gymnasium into a charnel house of music inspired violence. When Trent took his band to large Arena level type shows in the mid-90’s, I figured it would pretty much be the end of what makes his live shows really great. Sincerity, integrity, and emotional honesty. Which is pretty much what was lacking on Tuesday at Nissan Pavilion.

I ended up breaking my 10 year boycott on NIN shows because I got a free ticket for this one in the mail. It was promotional ticket giving me a perch on the lawn behind the pavilion. Somehow I managed to upgrade from the lawn (ie: concert siberia) to the pit (ie: best spot in the house). Which worked out nicely for me to see Bauhaus, who I have always wanted to catch and never have.

First up though was TV on the Radio who were in a word…lame. Sounding like shoegazer backed Fishbone – they were just a noisy mess. But some of the crowd seemed to dig it. I predict their 15 minutes of fame will expire sooner rather then later though.

Bauhaus took the stage with a tremendous guitar squeal from Daniel Ash that actually startled me. It sounded like a T-Rex eating a Jet Airplane. Pretty neat. Their set was frigging fantastic. The band’s instruments sounded so great coming out of those giant arena speakers. They were tuned perfectly and thrashing it up. It was kind of surprising to hear what a complex racket those guys play on each song. Daniel Ash was really rock-starring it up wearing an albino-wookie fur vest, leather pants and Willy Wonka TV Room sunglasses. His glam image next to Peter Murphy’s slowly disintegrating goth stoicism was a hilarious contrast.

Peter Murphy is a rock god, after seeing this show there is no denying it. He took the stage in some stuffy old gothic suit get-up and through the set removed peices of it til he was a bare-chested wild man. He reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” His antics on stage were masterful, using just about every colored spotlight on stage for a different dramatic effect. At one point he’s crucified bathed in red, at another he’s screaming into a blinding white spot from an inch away. The guy dances and moves like an evil yogi on acid. Just wild to watch. And his voice, that was the real treat. His deep goth tones cut through the bass and guitar fury like a howl from hell.

It was cool to see Bauhaus in this setting. Mainly because they didn’t bring along any stage-show other than themselves and their music. No lavish sets to distract the eye like when they are headliners. This was Bauhaus stripped down to the basics and their music shined.

Nine Inch Nails on the other hand presented an extremely sophisticated stage set featuring one of the most incredible light shows I have ever seen. A huge chain-link fiber-optic light fence seperated the band from the crowd. Another huge bank of screens backed the band and the inter-play between the fence in front and the screens in back sandwiching the band was super cool to watch all night. Each song had an intricate and unique light/image sequence that was mind-blowing.

While I thought the light-show was great, I had a mixed reacton to the music. First off – the guitarist for the current NIN line-up is an annoying monkey-boy fucker who should concentrate more on playing his instrument than doing crazy Jackie Chan-like moves with it. That guy ruined all but one of the songs from Pretty Hate Machine and all the songs off The Downward Spiral. The only times the guitar sounded right, were on the new songs which I assume he helped workshop with Trent and the songs off of Broken. The band played most of the songs off of the Broken EP and that was definitely the highlight of the show for me. It was the only time they sounded 100% into what they were playing and they put on a show of force that really did that awesome, angry EP justice.

The rest of the set-list was basically a greatest hits set, I think they played every single they have. Which was okay but a little boring. Mainly because Trent seemed like he was going through the motions on songs he sings over and over, ad nauseum. There was no soul in the music, no heart, no connection. The crowd of frat-boys and Jenny Jones Show goths loved it, and sang along enthusiastically but there seemed to be a lack of emotion that existed in The Downward Spiral days. I left the show with the impression that NIN have evolved from the great angst-vent band they used to be into a dark-tinged party band. A process which began when “Closer” shot into the stratosphere in ’94.

I probably won’t go see Nine Inch Nails live ever again after this show. It was fun, but didn’t come close to the shows in the early 90’s. Bauhaus was certainly worth it though. So who knows, if NIN dig up another awesome old opener then maybe. Any one know if Joy Division are talking reunion? Nahhh.

2 Comments so far

  1. Anon (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 12:51 am

    Thanks for digging Bauhaus. I did too. And I was extremely bummed that most of the 20 somethings there did not. I went twice earlier in the month as a matter of fact because, let’s face it, how many times are you going to see them together again live?

    I did get a laugh out of your comment about Aaron North as I recently posted in my own blog that – though I actually DO like him – but no one seems to notice he’s about 2 beats off on every song.

    You are very lucky to have seen them at Woodstock. I get chills watching those videos. Nothing beats that performance.

    Good review reading material.

  2. Doug (unregistered) on June 17th, 2006 @ 10:19 am

    I saw Bauhaus many years ago at a small venue in Milwaukee before the break-up. I did not even know they were touring again. Thanks for the review, nicely done and makes me envious that I missed it.

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