Critic's Pick: NIN
The black curtain doesn't rise right away. The spastic progression of "Somewhat Damaged" splinters into a light show that spills silhouettes of drums, humans and instruments across the dark canvas. Trent Reznor's shadow comes into sharp focus as his lyrics start to tear through the curtain to an oppressive mass of bodies pressed against the front-row barrier. He's teasing them. And they are all yelling right back, measure for measure until, finally, the curtain yields and the chalk-crusted bodies of the live NIN lash out against the Ohio darkness.
Nine Inch Nails' Fragility v2.0 tour hits Philedelphia on May 6 at the First Union Spectrum. And this work is anything but what its title suggests. Older songs are dragged out,trussed up and given a new ferocity;the newer work is tenacious, scalding and every bit as powerful. The difference between the studio and live versions of NIN's 1999 album The Fragile is the difference between throwing a bullet and shooting it. That isn't to say the album lacks impact, mind;But the live show squeezes like a tourniquet.
Last year Fragile opened strong on the charts and then rapidly spiraled downward. But Reznor is just now hitting state soil in support of the album. The delay is worth it. Fragility v1.0 swept through Europe, focusing on their hits. THe U.S. tour grabs on a different level; it doesn't neglect their history, but rather focuses on their material as a whole. The electronica fuses with the actual instrumentation seamlessly. Reznor continues to move away from the industrial stereotypes, igniting his passionate vocals and instrumentation with backdrop of elemental imagery.
-Helen H. Thompson
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.