Friday, September 25, 2009

Nine Inch Nails at the Henry Fonda Theater

It was during Danny Lohner's guest appearance on the stage during "Heresy" that I mentioned via Twitter that this performance would go down in Nine Inch Nails history. My intentions were to review this show prior to the "final" show at the Wiltern to avoid entering debate amongst NIN fans which show was better. Now, I must wrestle with making the judgment call.


HEALTH's new album Get Color will make your ears bleed. Metallic shards of noise with kinetic waves of madness are funneled into an album that makes having a nervous breakdown sound like a good time. I finally purchased Get Color when I caught them at the Troubadour and can safely say that all the pieces are coming together for HEALTH.

While "Die Slow" has a catchy tribal thump, "We Are Water" is my favorite track from the album, as I could instantly recall the panic stricken guitars when they also played it at the Echoplex. "In Heat" is a torturous vortex of post industrial noise that ends as soon as it begins. The Nine Inch Nails fans were receptive to their noisy offerings but I must say HEALTH needs to be experienced at their own headlining show.

Nine Inch Nails

Is this really the last Nine Inch Nails live review that I will ever type? Probably. There are many reasons why this show will go down in NIN folklore, but I knew I was in for a treat when the infamous sampled electronic drums of "Head Like A Hole" blared over the speakers to start the show. Was this the Pretty Hate Machine show? I couldn't believe it. "Terrible Lie" quickly followed suit and the Henry Fonda was buzzing.

The buzz subsided slightly with "Sin" realizing that we would not hear Pretty Hate Machine in its entirety but the intensity of the band was unparalleled. The Henry Fonda also sounded pristine. "March Of The Pigs" and "Piggy" were furiously dispensed and I could tell the band was in top form. "Echoplex" ironically made the setlist which wasn't played the Echoplex.

The five song set of "Head Down", "1,000,000", "Letting You", "Burn" and "Gave Up" was the biggest punch in the face to the crowd that anyone could willingly request. It was simply amazing to hear some of Nine Inch Nails's hardest and heaviest songs consecutively. I was ecstatic. "Burn" still ranks as one of my top five favorite Nine Inch Nails songs.

The appearance of an acoustic piano on stage was noted early on by my friend up front which was unusual for a Nine Inch Nails show. Was Trent going to do some solo stuff? It turned out that Mike Garson joined the band for a handful of songs adding his avant-garde piano flourishes. "The Becoming" was the standout track of this mini-set as I forgot how bizarrely appropriate the cluttered piano notes make song more demented.

Gary Numan was a fixture at the last batch of Nine Inch Nails shows and contributed with a stellar version of "Cars" featuring Eric Avery of Jane's Addiction on additional bass support. The cover of "Anthrax" by Gang of Four was a pleasant surprise with members of HEALTH appearing on stage.

My mind was fully blown when Danny Lohner appeared on stage during "Heresy". I instantly was transported back to the early '90s watching Nine Inch Nails destroy the stage at the Warfield in San Francisco. I literally got the chills hearing "Get Down Make Love" as this is a not often played b-side from the "Sin" single. Dillinger Escape Plan brought the stage chaos and destruction by throwing around their gear, lights and bodies for "Mr. Self Destruct" and "Wish".

I was saddened that Trent had abandoned "Atmosphere" at the Echoplex show but was overjoyed when the old analog synth string intro. The Joy Division covers kept coming when they shredded through "Dead Souls". When Trent reached for a black Fender Stratocaster I knew "The Day The World Went Away" was next.

The only logical closer of the evening was "Hurt" which had a few people blurt out during the song but it couldn't put a damper on the amazing setlist and performance from one of my favorite bands. I hate to think this is the last ever Nine Inch Nails review but I can take comfort knowing that this was one of best out of the numerous Nine Inch Nails shows that I have witnessed.

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