Nine Inch Nails Morrison, CO 9/2/08
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Green Pass Day
A little more than a road trip for this latest show at Red Rocks. For as long as I have been old enough to go to shows, I have always had a dream to see a show at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO. I hopped a flight on Monday 9/1/08 and flew out of Indy bound for Denver. After meeting up with a long time friend and a newly met, live in person, buddy from way back we headed up to the venue. The great thing about Red Rocks was the fact that when there is not a show scheduled for that evening you have complete access to the venue, the stage, the seats etc. So we seized the opportunity to get on stage and snap quite a few pictures. Got us all prepped for the next days show and let us get our bearings.
9/2/08 Show Day: We decided to head up fairly early because parking in the park can become "at a premium" near the venue very quickly. We arrived about 3:00 PM; in plenty of time to be there before the 4:30 will call booth was set to open. We were lucky enough to park right at the bottom of the backside stairs that lead out of the venue. Great thing about Red Rocks is that you can actually kill a lot of time just taking all of it in if you have time to wait for tickets, or in line, so needless to say it went by fairly quickly. I even took a bit of the time to try and find the Google Earth "?" to see if we had any shot of finding the postcard to no avail.
After getting our tickets and passes the three of us walked back up towards the venue. We passed the douche that was attempting to scalp tickets right at the will-call area and saw him getting arrested by the officer trying to maintain some semblance of order down there, it was hilarious. Ironic in a sense- all those folks at will-call had purchased their tickets via the set-up by NIN and management to escape the very assholes like him. Hope you had a good night son!
By the time we walked back up to the venue the doors had been open for about a half hour so we really didn't have to wait to get patted down and get into the venue. Luckily, they were allowing small cameras into the venue, so I grabbed the digital and headed in. Our seats for the show were unbelievable. Row 19 Seats 63-65 were absolutely dead center and about three rows up from the soundboard. Absolutely perfect place to sit in the venue- visually, and sonically. I knew we were in for the experience of our lives!
We found our seats very quickly and decided to head up to the top of the venue to the merchandise tent for Peter. While we were up top- the line at the merchandise tent was longer than getting into the venue itself. We could hear Deerhunter playing from where we stood. If I'm being honest about it, I'm fairly glad I missed most of the set visually as the audio was not on par with my musical tastes. We did get down to the seats and heard the last two songs of their set and settled in.
After a longer intermission than usual (from previous tours) to set-up, NIN took the stage. The setlist is as follows:
3. Letting You
5. March Of The Pigs
6. Head Down
7. The Frail
9. Gave Up
10. Me, I'm Not
12. The Great Destroyer
13. 5 Ghosts I
14. 6 Ghosts I
15. 19 Ghosts III
16. Piggy (Ghosts remake)
17. The Greater Good
20. Terrible Lie
22. 31 Ghosts IV
24. Down In It
25. Head Like A Hole
27. God Given
29. In This Twilight
This tour and the fact that shows are nearly 2 1/2 HOURS long is unbelievable. I tried to stave off the urge to hear any of the previous shows leading up to Red Rocks, I wanted to be immersed the entire experience without having any idea what was coming next. Needless to say as this date was on the last 1/3 of the tour it was brutal on me. But I held out and it was worth it.
The show as a whole ran the gauntlet, from "Pretty Hate Machine" to "The Slip" and everything in between. It was amazing to hear Terrible Lie, Down in it and HLAH all being played in the same night gave you almost a nostalgic feel in those sections of the show- sort of brought back a lot of memories and to experience them live was amazing.
The Ghosts section of the show was beautifully done, a nice breather I'm sure for the band and the audience in that thin mountain air. The visuals along with the music for the entire show were done on a spectacular level. It appeared that, as usual, Trent and Co. pushed the envelope hard on bringing so many new ways to utilize visuals to this tour- and they came off flawlessly. Wonderful use of them to compliment the music being played. It almost appeared as if you were watching a full-scale play with scene changes, and a storyline unfolding. Wonderfully done to say the least!
Many songs that, from the more recent albums, I wanted to hear played live I was actually able to get to hear them tonight. "The Great Destroyer," "Vessel," "Discipline," and "God Given" were all on my "Want List" of songs to see and hear live and I'll be damned if they weren't ALL played tonight. Felt like I hit the NIN lottery or something.
As I have written in the past "Reptile" has always been my absolute favorite song live, I have been very lucky to have it end up on numerous setlists of shows I have attended, as I have said to experience it live and in person is an experience that cannot be replicated on even the best live recording. Again tonight- it was in the setlist, and once again it kicked the hell out of me. This is the first time I have experienced it at an outdoor venue and sadly, although a wonderful venue to behold, I think some of the audio force was lost in the Denver open-air environment. Kick-ass nonetheless. But one song that literally pounded you in the chest and made you want more was "Vessel" Holy GOD; even in an outdoor arena the bass hitting you was unparalleled to anything I have ever been able to experience. For anyone on the tour who got to FEEL this song and all its power indoors- I cannot imagine how blown away it must have felt. Couple that with the visuals that were selected for the song and it was the absolute highlight of the evening for me!
Since I am not a resident of Denver I was pretty unsure how the crowd would be. I have been in pits in NY, Indiana, and Chicago and each of them has their own special mix of people with entirely different levels of brutality. With no "pit" in Denver and general admission being the seats at the top of the mountain, I was unsure how this would come off or affect the crowd. In essence you would have a venue entirely made up of seats (or benches in this particular case), I have to say I was really impressed, the crowd was generally responsive, and people utilized the space they had of their "seat" to go as hard as they could. I feel like I'm getting to be an old fart, but having "seats" was absolutely fine with me. I was able to experience the concert as I always do I had ample room to jump and move and throw my hands up, scream every lyric of every song and still let the music wash over me and let me be in my "zone" of feeling as if I'm the only one in the entire venue.
By the end of the night I was whipped, as usual, it was a beating I took on with delight, my voice was shredded, but with that Denver air- even with pouring my own guts out- I hardly even broke a sweat. I'm sure that the fact that it was about 50 degrees outside didn't help the situation either. Trent made note of it in his speech during the encore asking something to the effect of "And correct me if I'm wrong but is it not fucking summer? Is it freezing out or what the fuck is going on? I don't even know if I match, I just put everything I have on cause I'm freezing my balls off up here"
After the show ended with a wonderful rendition of "In This Twilight" the venue started to empty out and we headed down front. We placed our passes on and had this very odd "what the hell are we supposed to do!?" feeling. Both my buddies were asking me and I was just as lost as everyone else in the group. As security started to herd everyone out one of the guys in security saw my pass and told me to go sit in the first two rows in front of stage right.
People filed out of the venue fairly quickly and we waited for a minute or two. We took the time to talk to each other and other fans about what we were just able to witness- I had to have had a grin from ear to ear. Then someone came out that was only referred to as "the boss" and told us to follow him, he said, "If you are guests of someone, they may come down to see you, they may not!" He was brutally honest and you could tell he was a "no shit-taking" kind of guy. We were escorted to catering and sat down. Everyone else backstage seemed to be old pro's at this, I felt like it was my first day of Jr. High and I wasn't sure what table to sit at. Thankfully, I had good friends with me to pass the time as we settled into a touch of comfort. We saw Robin come in and head to a couple of tables to see his guests. After he appeared to be done and potentially leaving I spoke up and just wanted to introduce myself, complimented him on the show and asked if he would mind if I snapped a picture.
Alessandro was there as well and had a conversation with a few gals at another table. After we were able to meet Robin I went over and introduced myself to Alessandro as well. I was so impressed at what a down to earth guy he was. I thanked him for a wonderful show and he was so grateful for the compliment. He shot the shit with us for about 20 minutes; we talked about the Border Crossing fiasco going into Canada earlier in the tour (bus driver visa issue,) his favorite venues to play, and about the flight to Denver from Lexington the night before. At one point he even took out his iPhone and showed us a picture of the plane interior that the panel had started to pull away from the cabin. I knew they had a long drive ahead of them that night to Salt Lake City, so I was even more impressed that he took so long to talk with us. I was most appreciative.
At that point we were the last ones in the room, every other guest had taken off and one of the venue security said "Well I think everyone that was going to come down has." I asked sheepishly if I could have one of the itineraries off the wall and they were kind enough to let me take a memento of the visit. With that in hand and a couple more minutes of talking with both of the venue security folks downstairs she escorted us up to the stage, as I was exiting I all but begged for the pass-sheet taped to the wall. No dice on that. I said, "Would you mind if I took a picture of it at least?" She said, "Sure go ahead."
By the time we got out of backstage the venue had been cleared for an hour or so- and they had shut off damn near every light in the place. Even the stairs were now dark as shit so we precariously made our way down the stairs with just the moonlight and the slight glow of the Denver skyline as our guide. Yeah that was nice! Luckily, at the bottom of the stairs was the van so once we were down we didn't have far to go. We pile in and start to head down the mountain. The tour Busses and Trucks were parked just a stones throw away from where we were and we had to pass them as we would leave. As we got there I noticed probably about 25 people still standing behind the ropes by the busses. Chris pulled over and I said, "Well security isn't telling them to piss off, lets sit for a minute and see what's going on." As we sat we saw one white van after another come down from the venue, out of each pops Robin, Alessandro and Justin. The guys get their stuff offloaded and get it onto their bus. Alessandro heads out first and starts meeting people and signing autographs for them. Then out came Robin. I figured I didn't have anyone sign anything backstage, so I thought "What the hell I'll see if Robin will sign my ticket" I got in the very back of the line as I felt like I had already been really lucky to have been able to see both of these guys backstage- these folks hadn't seen anyone yet so I thought it only right for them to get sigs and pictures with them first. While Robin was out Justin popped out as well, I had seen him buzz through backstage but he never stopped or visited so I thought it would be a good chance to possibly get to shoot the bull for a second. He got to the end of the line of us and I told him how great the show was as well, he also was very appreciative and humble. I asked if he would mind if I snapped a pic. I thanked him for his time and as I was walking away he yells "Hey man, its cold out here man, get warm.. maybe get some pants on" NICE! Don't know why, hell I was pretty much in the same thing as most people out there. It was kind of a nice thing actually!
I get back to the van and there are swarms of taxi's, trucks, and people showing up all at once it seems. We're ready to go and after the mass of vehicles clear out- next thing we know security stops traffic and Trent's bus and the band's bus head out- onto Salt Lake! We head down to the town of Morrison and head back towards our lodging and to find some food. We are so jazzed Peter and I talk about the show non-stop all the way back. Well I'm sure I rambled on profusely. It was one of those nights you were sorry it had to come to an end. Felt like I could have stayed up for days after the experience. Sadly, there was not time to relish there in Denver; I was on a 9:30 flight the next morning back to Indy.