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For Nine Inch Nails it was the last stop of their European tour, for me this show in Helsinki Icehall was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time! Trent Reznor and his band mates set indeed an example for quite many much younger bands...
But the whole story from the beginning.
When the support act for the tour, Ladytron, started – a band chosen by master Trent personally – the hall was still half empty, a rather depressing background for Ladytron´s live debut in Helsinki, and also the acoustics suffered a bit. Perhaps this was the reason why the spirits just didn´t lift off... the singers Mira and Helen changed constantly from microphone to synth which was pretty much the only action on stage, therefore the whole thing seemed much more suitable for a Clubgig.
Still this mix of electronic Pop and Rock riffs makes you feel like dancing, but only a few in the audience surrendered to a dance floor impulse. Only “Destroy Everything You Touch”, probably the best known track of the album “Witching Hour” due to a local TV advertisement, got the audience moving a bit more – this is how Ladytron rounded up their half-hour show.
Nine Inch Nails A quite different scenery after the pause: Seats filled long before the beginning, excitement, anticipation – and loud cheers for the first activities on stage even before the lights went out. And what happened next can only be compared with forces of nature: A visual and acoustic Tsunami rolling over the audience and flattening everything in its way, a sound more brutal and violent than any Death Metal band can produce, musicians so passionate that microphones, microphone stands, spots or boxes were damaged... Quite early in the program e.g. guitarist Aaron North went stagediving, with his instrument, and continued some strange stunt-activities throughout the show, yet never interrupted his performance...
On top of that a perfectly orchestrated light show that used minimalistic, almost primitive means for a maximum of effect. Generally master Reznor preferred a sinister atmosphere, which means a foggy stage and Spartan illumination; very often the band could only be seen as a silhouette. No video screens or LED walls, only the simple NIN logo - that means five vertical stripes of light - in the background, sparingly used, sometimes stroboscope effects... or: complete darkness, and only a single pendulum lamp switched on and triggered to move, right above the drummer Josh Freese during a solo part – a breathtaking visual effect, and the combination of all made it work as bombastic event – I can just recommend to get the DVD of this tour, if it should be available!
The band did not use their hits sparingly: „The Hand That Feeds“, „Only“, Wish“, „Head Like A Hole“, „Closer“, „Eraser“,“March Of The Pigs“, „Heresy“, „Burn“; only the new album “Year Zero” was a bit under-represented with the single “Survivalism” and “The Beginning Of The End” due to the fact that it was not available before mid April. The audience remained a bubbling mass of euphoria until the end and often took over Trent Reznor´s vocal parts even without being invited; towards the final this euphoria got more and more fans out of their seats, literally. In direct comparison I have to say that NIN seems to be like Wine or Whisky, getting better with age – their more recent material had much more power!
Finally Trent Reznor thanked fans, crew and Ladytron, before the band added a few hits more hits, e.g. the touching solo performance of “Hurt”, Trent on keyboards – and then this ritual destruction of everything on stage that had not been damaged before. At least a good excuse for not having any more encores... nevertheless – bull´s eye!