Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nine Inch Nails/Godspeed You! Black Emperor-10/24/13 Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

After a four-year break in which Trent Reznor announced the end of Nine Inch Nails as a touring entity at the Wave Goodbye tour of 2009 with Jane’s Addiction. NIN has finally decided to return after all for the Tension 2013 tour led by Reznor with a line-up that includes previous NIN live members in guitarist/keyboardist Robin Finck, keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Alessandro Cortini, and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Ilan Rubin. Joining this new line-up is Telefon Tel Aviv co-founder Josh Eustis on guitar/bass/keyboards/other instruments for the band’s recent festival tour in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. For the 2013 Tension arena tour, NIN will be joined renowned bassist Pino Palladino as well as backing vocalists Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson.

In my fourth time seeing NIN live, this show is definitely going to be different from previous shows I went from the Live: With Teeth summer amphitheater tour of 2006 with Bauhaus and TV on the Radio and the Wave Goodbye tour in 2009 with Jane’s Addiction and Street Sweeper Social Club that were at the Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood. The other show I went to see NIN was in 2008 for the Lights in the Sky tour with Deerhunter at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth, GA. For this show at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, things are definitely different as the band will be joined by the experimental post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Arriving at around 7 PM at the Philips Arena where I parked a few blocks away because I didn’t want to spend $20 for parking very close to the arena. Fortunately, the parking building I chose was at half the price as I also spent an extra $10 on gas and nearly $9 for dinner at Krystal’s which I haven’t had in nearly two years. Upon arriving at the arena, I realized that the $63 I spent on my ticket was definitely worth it as I managed to get an excellent view of the stage at section 111 instead of having to sit on side of the stage back in 2008. The arena was only half-full by the time Godspeed You! Black Emperor played at around 7:30 PM. They only did two very long pieces as it’s mostly drone-rock instrumentals that is very heavy as behind them was a series of surreal images from a film projector.

I only missed a bit of the performance because I had to take a leak, which I admit is quite unprofessional but my bladder isn’t strong as it was years ago. Still, I didn’t miss much as I was able to hear the music as they’re definitely an amazing band where I liked the heaviness of the music though it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I really liked the presentation of the show as I got a good look from the soundboards on the stage floor where the film projectionist Karl Lemieux was grabbing different reels of film stock to show these very strange images of film and stuff that is presented in a surreal fashion.

Their performance ended at around 8:10 PM where the arena definitely began to fill up as a lot of music was played including a couple of cuts from the soundtrack for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I chatted with a few people during the show as some of them were attending their very first NIN show. Then the house lights went out as the band opened up with Copy of A as lights from above the stage start to pop up for each member of the live band as it started with drummer Ilan Rubin, bassist Pino Palladino, keyboardist Alessandro Cortini, and Trent Reznor. Guitarists Robin Finck and Josh Eustis later appear on opposite sides of the state with Finck playing a sequencer as the song intensifies as does the lights. Then comes 1,000,000 as it just continues to play with that sense of upbeat energy with Eustis on the guitar as the white lights remain on top of the band while they continue to blare with its elliptical light presentation.

The rock continues with Terrible Lie as the lights definitely blare right at the audience for the song as Finck is back on the guitar while the presence of Rubin and Palladino definitely makes a very solid rhythm section. While Palladino doesn’t move very much, it doesn’t matter since he definitely adds a lot of power to the bass. Even in the next song in March of the Pigs which is definitely a crowd favorite which plays into a lot of lights including shades of red as things darken down a bit for Piggy where Palladino shines on the bass with Eustis providing percussion into the song.

The next set showcased the band’s presentation where backup vocalists Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson appear as a metallic screen comes down in front of the stage where there’s a lot of these amazing yet colorful visuals that play into the songs. The first is the funky All Time Low as it plays to some colorful visuals while Disappointed was a major highlight as far as the visuals were concerned as it had this very strange look where lines started to appear and then comes this very 3-D like cube that appears on the screen to play with the song’s rhythms. All Time Low even features lyrics from Closer to get things going as the visual portion of the show continues with the single Came Back Haunted where it’s all red while the lights only appear on everyone who is singing on the chorus. The ballad Find My Way where everyone with the exception of Reznor appears in silhouette against a blue background as it‘s one of the visual highlights of the show.

One of the major highlights for me was in a rearranged version of Sanctified from Pretty Hate Machine where Palladino definitely adds a new flavor in the bass where it is also filled with these dazzling visuals to accompany the song. Things definitely quite down for the piano instrumental The Frail as the screen lifted up from the stage as it sets up The Wretched which is a favorite among NIN fans. Various Methods of Escape appear as it continues the eight-person lineup as it’s a solid mid-tempo track while The Big Come Down is a major highlight where the lights above the stage are a real highlight in terms of how they play into that sense of fragility as it is close above the band.

Survivalism returns that sense of upbeat rock where it is all about that blaring light show that enthralls the audience as I managed to go down a few rows with a few other people who definitely seemed to enjoy my enthusiasm for the show as I was rocking out. Running slow things down a bit where it has a sense of funkiness to the performance. Then comes the ambient-instrumental A Warm Place where the screen comes back down in front of the stage where only smoke appears to play into that sense of mystique as it’s one of my favorite moments. The rock then returns into full force where the backup singers don’t appear as it comes down to such blistering songs like Somewhat Damaged, Wish, The Hand That Feeds, and Head Like A Hole.

After 10-15 minutes, the band returns for an unforgettable encore that includes the entrancing mid-tempo ballad of Even Deeper with its amazing visuals with its background screen as it also features Lisa Fischer doing some amazing vocals towards the song’s coda as she got a great reception. The light show continues for a cover of David Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans that Reznor was apart of for its 1997 EP as continued that sense of hard rock. Things slow down for the somber While I’m Still Here where Reznor trades vocals with the backing singers while Josh Eustis plays the saxophone solo where it is followed by the low-key instrumental Black Noise. Closing the show is the classic ballad Hurt where Reznor, Eustis, Finck, and Palladino play in front of the screen to images of despair while Cortini and Rubin are behind the screen as it definitely ends the show on a high note.

For me personally, this was the best show I’ve been to since I first saw NIN back in 2006 with Bauhaus and TV on the Radio. Largely because I was surrounded by a small band of people who were just enthralled by the show and enjoyed my enthusiasm as I rocked out to some songs and such doing air guitars, air bass, air drums, and air keyboards while singing along. Though only 70-80% of the arena was filled, not everyone in the section I was sitting in seemed to enjoy themselves as they probably sat back and looked jaded. That was a bit of a downer for me as I was like “what the fuck are you guys even doing here?” They were probably a bunch of jaded hipsters who don’t know good music if it came out of their ass.

As for the band themselves, I would say that this is the best line-up so far in terms of musicianship and presentation. Since I’ve seen Reznor, Rubin, Finck, and Cortini in the band in previous shows, there weren’t many surprises from them as they did what they did where Finck is still a fucking beast when it comes to stage presence and such. Josh Eustis is also a bit energetic though is more in the background as he’s manage to be a solid addition to the band. Though I know there’s been a lot of complaints about Pino Palladino for not moving around very much. Then again, he’s Pino Palladino. The guy is a big name and all he needs to do is play the bass and he just delivers. The addition of Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson definitely broadens the sound a bit more as their vocals add more spice to the funkier and mid-tempo songs as well as the ballad giving them more in these songs as well as making them fresh.

Yet, the audience for the most part definitely enjoyed it as they were cheering and clapping while I even saw those dancing to the songs. I would say that Atlanta had a damn good time as everyone came out of the arena happy and got their moneys worth. That is why I consider NIN to be one of the best live bands ever. They don’t bullshit when it comes to putting on a show with lights and such that really does something different and just overwhelm the audience. I really hope to see them again real soon though I wish I can to Australia/New Zealand to see them tour with Queens of the Stone Age.

Here are some photos by the following: thatguymark:


Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Hope Drone/Behemoth

NIN: Copy of A/1,000,000/Terrible Lie/March of the Pigs/Piggy/All Time Low/Disappointed/Came Back Haunted/Find My Way/Sanctified/The Frail/The Wretched/Various Methods of Escape/The Big Come Down/Survivalism/Running/A Warm Place/Somewhat Damaged/Wish/The Hand That Feeds/Head Like A Hole

Encore: Even Deeper/I’m Afraid of Americans/While I’m Still Here/Black Noise/Hurt

NIN Reviews: halos: halo 1 - halo 2 - halo 3 - halo 4 - halo 5 - halo 6 - halo 7 - halo 8 - halo 9 - halo 10 - halo 11 - halo 12 - halo 13 - (halo 14) - (halo 15) - (halo 16) - (halo 17) - (halo 18) - (halo 19) - (halo 20) - (halo 21) - (halo 22) - (halo 23) - (halo 24) - (halo 25) - (halo 26) - (halo 27) - (halo 28) - (halo 29) - (halo 30) - (halo 31) - (halo 32)

seeds: (seed 1) - (seed 2) - (seed 3) - (seed 4) - (seed 5) - (seed 6) - (seed 7) - (seed 8)

Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross Soundtracks: null 1 - null 2 - (null 3) - (null 4) - (null 5) - (null 6) - (null 7)

Soundtracks/Miscellaneous: The Broken Movie - Natural Born Killers OST - Quake - Lost Highway OST

Concerts: (NIN/Bauhaus/TV on the Radio-6/7/06 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - (NIN/Deerhunter-8/13/08 Duluth, GA Gwinnett Arena) - (NIN/Jane’s Addiction/Street Sweeper Social Club-5/19/09 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - NIN/Jesus & Mary Chain/Tobacco-9/27/18 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre

© thevoid99 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lou Reed: A Tribute

At the Big Apple that is also known as the City that Never Sleeps, New York City just got quieter as on October 27, 2013. The city lost one of its great treasures in Lou Reed who died from liver disease at the age of 71. If Frank Sinatra was considered the King of New York back in the 1940s and 1950s. Reed would take on that mantle since the 1970s and do it with such class and danger making the city just as exciting. A young Jewish kid from Brooklyn who grew up in Long Island, Reed personified the city in its ugliness and at its most dangerous. Yet, that is one of the reasons why the city was so fun as he was their king though he acted like one of them by walking on the city and such.

There is no question that Lou Reed’s contribution to popular music is important with his work with the Velvet Underground to his amazing solo career. Brian Eno said it best that for those that had bought Velvet Underground and Nico when it first came out started a band afterwards. The four studio albums the Velvet Underground made from that debut w/ Nico as well as White Light White Heat, the third self-titled release, and Loaded are all quintessential in the world of rock n’ roll. Though they never sold a lot of records from 1967 to 1970, there wouldn’t be punk rock in the 1970s if it wasn’t for the Velvets as there also wouldn’t be post-punk, alternative rock, indie, or anything that was daring if it wasn’t for Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, Doug Yule, and Nico being part of that entity.

All of those albums that Reed did as a member of the Velvets as well as compilations and box sets of outtakes and unreleased material showcase a wealth of music that wasn’t just ahead of its time. It was also dangerous not just in the subject matters such as drugs, sex, and things that were considered taboo and adult in the late 1960s. While Reed may have not had the kind of vocals that was considered fantastic in comparison to a lot of the mainstream music that was playing on the radio. It did appeal to those who weren’t comfortable with their vocal ranges as Reed was also someone who didn’t know many chords in playing the guitar. Yet he did said that even if you knew only one or two chords, there are a million things than can be done with so little which definitely appealed to the world of punk.

After leaving the Velvets in 1970, Reed would begin what would be an outstanding solo career that began in 1971. Though it got off to a rough start with his self-titled debut released in that year. It would a young up-and-coming artist in David Bowie who would help Lou Reed get success as a solo artist with the help of Bowie’s Spiders from Mars guitarist Mick Ronson as they produced what many consider to be his greatest solo achievement in Transformer. If there’s one solo record of his that anyone should start with, it’s this one. It’s an album from start to finish that is a joy to listen to as it features such classic tracks as the ballad Perfect Day, the love song Satellite of Love, the crunchy rocker Vicious, and of course, his only hit single in his entire career in Walk on the Wild Side.

While Reed maybe famous to the public at large for that one song and introduce him to a wide audience, he was still a cult artist of sorts with a devoted following that would grow in the decades to come. Albums such as Berlin (my favorite), Rock N’ Roll Animal, Blue Mask, New York, Songs for Drella with John Cale, Magic & Loss, and The Raven showcase an artist who was willing to be daring, dangerous but also filled with a craftsmanship and care as a songwriter that is unique. He was also someone who made record that were quite questionable such as his last studio release in a very strange collaboration with the metal band Metallica in the album Lulu. While it wasn’t a total disaster, it was still an album that didn’t have anything great to offer though it showed that Reed could still keep up with guys who were younger than him.

Throughout Reed’s solo career that also featured stories about his notorious drug use that had him competing with the likes of Keith Richards of who was the most notorious rock drug user. Like Richards, Reed would eventually clean up his act while maintaining that air of danger as Reed also created one of the most daring artistic statements with a double album in 1975 called Metal Machine Music which was a record of feedback that is all over the place that just goes on in four different sides. It’s a record that either was loved or hated as there was no question that it would help pave the way for genres such as noise-pop, shoe gaze, industrial, and all sorts of crazy-ass avant-garde music. Lester Bangs was right in calling the album genius as he was known for having a love-hate relationship with Reed.

Reed definitely earned his title as the King of New York while maintaining his status as a regular guy who loved rock n’ roll and doo-wop as one of his great contributions in the 1990s was a blistering cover of Doc Pomus’ This Magic Moment in tribute to the man that helped learn how to write songs. It appeared in David Lynch’s 1997 film Lost Highway where it was used in an effective moment in the film proving that Reed could do wonders to a great song.

One of my favorite Lou Reed moments was in an appearance in the Nine Inch Nails touring documentary Self Destruct from their 1997 Closure home video release where Reed was backstage talking to Trent Reznor praising him for rocking very smart as they had a beer together. It’s a moment where one of the coolest guys in rock gave a thumbs up to one of my favorite artists in the world.

Lou Reed definitely was a class act as another moment that I think plays into his legendary status is a rare duet with longtime friend David Bowie at Bowie’s 50th birthday concert in 1997 at Madison Square Garden in the song Queen Bitch that was Bowie’s tribute to Reed and the Velvets.

New York City will never be the same as does the world as Reed’s influence in music was also important to the world of social and cultural changes in Czechoslovakia where Vaclav Havel cited Reed and the Velvet Underground as a profound influence for the Velvet Revolution to occur in the late 1980s during the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. It’s not just these changes that Reed inspired as he was also influential to many musicians as Cowboy Junkies created an amazing cover of the Velvets’ Sweet Jane while Duran Duran did a cover of Reed’s Perfect Day that Reed himself loved. There will never be another Lou Reed. Yet, right now. He’s probably rocking out w/ Nico, Sterling Morrison, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Mick Ronson, and Doc Pomus while going to the bar where Dimebag Darrell Abbott is the bartender. We will miss you Lou. Thank you for the music.

R.I.P. Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed (1942-2013)

© thevoid99 2013