NIN Plays Superb Show To Mildly Satisfied Crowd

Originally published in CDNow All Star Music News on November 1, 1999

Many have had their doubts if Nine Inch Nails' new album, The Fragile, would work as well live as on CD, but Friday (Nov. 19)'s show at Colosseum in Munich, Germany put those naysayers to rest. In fact, if the album would have displayed such a powerful blend of feelings, soft and tender melodic parts, driving rock guitars and fast, furious techno beats, maybe it wouldn?t have made the fastest and hardest hitting crash from the No. 1 spot of The Billboard 200 ever. Trent Reznor showed that he truly possesses an amazing voice that can croon, groan, yell and whisper -- capturing the whole range of his emotions in one song. The concert was an experience not just for the music but also for the audience. Not even at fetish parties is so much pale, mutilated, pierced, and tattooed flesh on public display. Reznor?s buff body in a black action man outfit had an air of glowing health that was a bit at odds with his tortured genius stage antics. His band, consisting of Robin Finck (guitar), Charlie Clouser (keyboards), Danny Lohner (guitar/bass), and Jerome Dillon (drums), made it seem as if Reznor has ventured into genetic engineering. With sheer black shirts, burgundy hair, and matching make-up, they distinctively looked like clones of the band he helped launch, Marilyn Manson. From the moment the band took the stage, the hard core fans up front went mad -- even madder, though, when Reznor took to the guitar or keyboards himself. A definite flaw of the performance were Reznor?s first words to the audience at the beginning of "March of the Pigs," the third song of the evening. He greeted the crowd with "Hello, you German pigs!" No doubt intended as a witticism, but the roughly 2,500 people who?d paid for their tickets might have deserved more courtesy. The feeble "I missed you pigs" after the song couldn?t quite take the sour taste away. As expected, most of the set list consisted of material from The Fragile. About 40 minutes into the show, the stage changed and the fierce light show gave way to a projected image of the sea, accompanying "La Mer/The Great Below," which had the crowd mesmerized for music and visuals alike. During the encore -- right after "Starfuckers Inc." finished off with his best Carly Simon impersonation "You?re so vain, you?ll probably think this song is about you" -- Reznor played a furious, but surprisingly melodic "Closer" where he looked about to inseminate his virginal white guitar. Regardless that the show was superb and made his studio work look pale in comparison, Reznor somehow failed to connect with the audience, even if he thanked them for being a "great fucking audience tonight." Most of the crowd left quickly and quietly after the gig finished an hour and 45 minutes later, looking somehow confused and only mildly satisfied.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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