I write this review with great sadness knowing that, at least for the foreseeable future, I will not be able to enjoy my favorite band live anymore. Nine Inch Nails had their Wave Goodbye tour sweep through the US through out the summer. With the knowledge that this would be the last of the shows, we quickly picked up tickets to the Kansas City and Chicago stops in May. Not long after that, Trent had decided (while he was touring overseas) he didn’t like the way the US tour had ended for him. There was curfew problems and he had let Jane’s Addiction headline so his shows were being played in the sunset and so on. So, he decided to add eleven final, FINAL shows to the US dates. 4 in NY, 2 in Chicago, 1 in Toronto and 4 in LA.
I had seen NIN many times before this, but for some reason, I felt nervous before the show started. Maybe because I truly felt that Trent meant it this time and that he was absolutely “going on hiatus.” I arrived in time to jump into a long line of pre-sale purchasers and could feel the tension and excitement rising on this cool day in Chicago. The venues would all be smaller this time around, for that intimate, “I just sweated on you” feeling, the way we like it! When the doors opened, we were released like a pack of wild horses all fleeing in the same direction with some confusion along the way. Our goal was to reach the merch booth ASAP, since these shirts are one of a kind, individually made for each show shirts and posters. The complaint that I have about the girl shirts (and this goes for all concerts) are the way that they only name the band, and have a small logo on them. They don’t ever make cool shirts for girls!
We snatched up two seats in the balcony for prime recordability, which was awesome, but it did get really hot up there. The opening band, Mew, were someone I wasn’t familiar with before the show. They are best described as a group of guys who don’t know how to dress themselves, but do know how to focus on the music to belt out great sounds. They reminded me slightly of Radiohead, with the singer’s ability to hit the highest octaves known to man, meets a tamer version of the band, Flickerstick, (winners of the VH1 show, Bands on the Run.) They had great visuals with their music which was creepy, but I couldn’t stop watching it. Visualize animated Children of the Corn singing back up vocals for the band, while a teddy bear played violin, and various alien heads keep popping around. Overall, I enjoyed them, but I did wish that the singer would have interacted with the crowd a bit more. It made them seem shy.
I’m not quite sure of the exact time that NIN came on stage, but I think it was early. The crowd was so pumped for them, that when the drums were being tested, people got antsy and screamed. The house lights hadn’t even shut off yet when the first note started ringing out for Home, and Robin appeared on stage. We started recording from that moment, but it was hard to keep it steady from all of the excitement and singing/screaming along to the songs.
Trent blasted out on the stage dressed up in traditional black with his custom jacket which had his symbols for the tour on the arm band in white. Almost immediately, he sweated through everything. I just have to mention, again, how the emotion in this crowd was like nothing I had felt before. I had been to many shows, and always sing to every song, and feel surprised when it seems I am the only one singing with the band. Tonight, every person packed into this beautiful, quaint theatre was chanting every word. I felt speechless at times when the crowd seemed to split and cover the two vocal tracks in the song simultaneously. Songs like March of the Pigs, Gave Up, Wish and Suck were sung along so loudly, I could hardly hear Trent, and he is pretty loud.
The band went into Piggy about six songs in and it was again over sang by the crowd. Trent seemed to be loving it and at one point, stopped singing to let the crowd be the band’s voice for a minute. Being in the balcony, gave a vantage point to seeing the crowds and pits below and it was in a complete sway during this calming and eerie song.
They played I’m afraid of Americans again, which I had only heard the last time I was in Chicago for NIN. It was great. When this tour started, I was watching any videos uploaded from other shows, and when he started singing this song, it was a little shaky. He seemed to be trying to sing Bowie’s parts like Bowie. Tonight, the song was sang by Trent and it was flawless.
There have been some special guests appearing on these last shows and tonight was no different. Peter Murphy appeared on stage in time to screw up Reptile for the second or third time on this tour. This was a song that I was really looking forward to. But there is nothing worse than not being able to sing along to a song when you can’t follow what is going on. The band did a great job compensating for his mistakes and with Trent on back up vocals, it still seemed like some form of the song. Peter Murphy seemed to be more interested in showing off than singing. He pranced around the stage like he had been there all night looking longingly into a spotlight or hanging on JMJ or Ilan like they were brothers. The whole scene just felt odd and gave everyone around me a sense of waiting for the show to start again. He played a couple more covers (not NIN covers) then quickly disappeared, which seemed to breathe life into the crowd again.
The show closed up with some regulars (Head like a Hole and Hurt.) I have heard Hurt almost a million times, it seems, and had originally said that I would have much rather had the show close out on In this Twilight. However, I have never really heard the song until he sang it tonight. I knew the lyrics, I knew the idea and emotions behind the song, but I had never felt the song like I did tonight. He sang out every lyric, with tears streaming down his face, to every single fan in the theatre. I truly felt like he was singing this song directly to me and saying ‘thank you for all of your support’. As the band exited the stage one by one, I could see them wiping tears from their faces as they felt the compassion that was equally shared in this room tonight.
Trent was a little more talky than usual tonight, explaining a song or saying why he loved this town. He also made mention, that even though they are saying they are done, he isn’t finished writing music, and this group of Trent, Robin, Justin and Ilan are definitely not finished working together. So, after all of the preparing for the end of NIN days, he has lit a glimmer of hope in all of our eyes once again.
set list for Aragon Ballroom 8.29.09
The Beginning Of The End
March Of The Pigs
I’m Afraid Of Americans
I Do Not Want This
Right Where It Belongs v2.0
The Way Out Is Through
Mr Self Destruct
The Good Soldier
Reptile (with Peter Murphy)
Strange Kind Of Love / Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus covers with Peter
Final Solution – Pere Ubu cover with Peter Murphy
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole
I give the show 5 Tell Peter Murphy the words to Reptile out of 5
by Angela Davis
Here are some videos from the night from our point of view.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
March of the Pigs