Nine Inch Nails kicked off their Lights In The Sky tour in Seattle on Saturday, named presumably both for the track off of The Slip as well as for the absurdly amazing light show that they brought with them (but more on that anon). As a birthday present to myself, we headed up there on what was a mostly uneventful drive except for the always-horrible traffic just north of Tacoma and the guy who nearly succeeded in sideswiping my car at 70mph due to an inability to look before plowing into the fast lane. But I digress.
After stomping around the park for a few hours, seeing the half-hearted “25% off” Sonics merch at the Key Arena, marvelling at the preparations for the Sea Fair parade, and having dinner with a couple of friends, we headed in to the show. It actually started on time, and by the time we were done standing in line for a drink, Crystal Castles had finished their set and Trent Reznor’s motley musicians had already begun, so we shoved some liquid down our gullets and went to find our nosebleed seats (which, at the Key Arena, still aren’t too bad).
So we missed the first song (which was “1,000,000″, as I later guessed), but the remaining set was wide, wild, career-spanning, and mind-blowing, as over the next two hours we were treated to an setlist spanning from Pretty Hate Machine; Broken; The Downward Spiral; With Teeth; various tracks off of Ghosts, The Slip, and probably The Fragile; and a smattering of great tracks off of Year Zero. (Mouse over the album title for the songs I could readily identify.)
It wasn’t enough to simply deliver on the goods, though, even with all of the raw energy and intensity that NIN brought to the stage (and woe betide anyone getting in the way of stray flying microphone stands). There were also the aforementioned Lights in the Sky– a scintillating array of lights sat on either side of the stage, along with three “curtains” of light, placed as a backdrop, midstage, and just a few feet shy of the proscenium, each capable of displaying an amazing array of color, or to go nearly translucent when required, allowing for by far the coolest light effects I have ever seen at a show.
For instance, the middle light sheet could be a desert landscape of an alien planet while the front showered down a heavy rain through which the musicians played; or the front sheet could become the only backdrop, creating a small and intimate stage while each instrument had sound-related effects appearing behind the player/singer. Or the massive arrays of lights at either end of the stage could throb with an intensity and brightness that bring you to the brink of an altered state of percepting with a near 3-D effect. The screens were, variously, security screens depicting the action onstage and off; a gigantic night-vision closeup of Trent Reznor whispering the words to “The Greater Good”; or bursts of static where the sounds of a microphone could punch a hole through, to reveal the singer behind.
My only regret? That I didn’t spring for even-better seats.
Add comment July 28th, 2008