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Nine Inch Nails COLD AND BLACK AND INFINITE NORTH AMERICA 2018 At Radio City Music Hall, Saturday, October 13th, 2018, Reviewed

So. two industrial electronic sound bands sandwich a feedback drenched pop punk band of the 1980s at Radio City Music Hall  on Saturday night and what’s not to like.?Sure,  Nine Inch Nails aren’t the band they were, though the Jesus And Mary Chain are, and newbies Kite Base have the attitude, so what? NIN sound even better despite being boring on the newer wall of sound stuff. All three perform bathed in lights that can be excruciatingly dense and dark, Kite Base ignored the audience entirely,  JAMC recorded a thank you and stuck it on a loop at the end,  and except for tiny pockets of talk, tributing David Bowie before a cover of “I’m Afraid Of Americans”)  were in the midst of a one sound one world concert that brooked no nonsense.

Last night all the action was was at the merchandize counters, the most impressive I’ve seen since Harry Styles at the same venue if not Frank Ocean at Panorama a coupla years ago. The line went on and on, ending where the metal detectors began as rockers of all sizes and sexes (more or less) and only one shade of pale, tucked their AMEX Blue in their leather jackets and waited patiently.  They were pretty spectacular tees and stuff (hoodies, sweaters, pins) though by the time they got to me they were out of the one with the date and venue printed on the back.

The way punctual  evening began at seven on the dot with the female duo Kite Base comprised of  bass guitars, vocals and electronics, and the women were stoics in the face of a not unfriendly welcome. JAMC you know and the brothers Reid, Jim and William, are as casually caustic as ever, making a loud, burgeoning drenched in reverb noise where the melodies perform a coup d’etat on the guitars and as long as Jim and William have their Back to Mono (1958–1969) box set handy, should be able to do that precisely for eternity.

Nine Inch Nails once opened for JAMC back in the day though they only time I saw em was at the Meadowlands in 1995 opening for David Bowie. I didn’t much like em but I was listening to a live recording from around that time and absolutely blame myself. I liked them a lot more last night. The light show was pretty effective if you like lights, if you wanna see a rock band at work. a whole lot less so. This was the third show in eight days at Radio City Music Hall that didn’t bother with close circuit TV. I don’t know what to tell you. They certainly should have. Trent Reznor can be a good rock band leader and as a former outro now mainstream rock star, with big hits and tempo lulls a plenty, I would have liked to have seen what he was doing during them. My best bet is that on the smasherinos, “The Perfect Drug” he leaned forward onto his microphone before pulling right back in a classic rock star pose, on the dirgy ones like “This Isn’t The Place” he hid the shadows, and plonked his piano.

Ever since Trent officially invited his film scoring partner Atticus Ross to join the band they have become tighter, harder, the sound lean and tense,  and the electronics and beats a throb like a broken heart in the background. NIN were completely there throughout the show, even while I wished I could get a better handle on their  sight, the tightness of the band was astonishing. Still, all these years later, they are such a downward (spiral) they become like a horror movie of sound in which nobody says boo. Trent completely shook up his playlist from earlier in the tour but that still means he performed four out of six songs off his latest release, Bad Witch, I liked the album and liked the performance of “Ahead Of Ourselves” especially. The audience was very enthusiastic and so was I… up to a point. The problem is, if you can’t see much and if the sounds don’t hook you. you are left adrift in noise… waiting for, the last song of the concert, a searing “Hurt” which owes a lot of love to Johnny Cash’s cover. I guess if you have to be adrift in noise this is the place to be so.


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