Show Review: Nine Inch Nails ACL Taping (11.4)

NIN @ ACL TVBased on the throngs of people begging for tickets oustide of Moody Theater, Monday night’s taping at ACL Live was a pretty hot commodity. Myself, well, again I was fighting to reclaim my youth by revisiting the catalogue of Nine Inch Nails.

The folks at ACL should definitely be proud of bringing in Nine Inch Nails for a taping.  Sure, they’re huge in the grand scheme of things, though not necessarily the largest act to grace the studio.  But, what it did represent was the power behind the PBS program, as the importance of the show continues to grow with each act that comes to the venue.  It also allowed for many of us to get a version of Nine Inch Nails that me mightn’t have seen otherwise.

Read on for my thoughts on the evening…

The entire night was really about control, and by that I mean the control of Trent Reznor.  Rumor has it that he encouraged the venue to leave off the A/C, which left it quite warm for the whole evening. I care less about that than the control Reznor has over the entire package that he offers to listeners.  If you watched closely, as I chose to do, he’s orchestrating every note or rising his hands in unison with swelling musical accompaniment; he’s the dark conductor, the likes of which I’ve seen very rarely. He also is quite intelligent, and his control over the set list demonstrated his knowledge of the program, and what he could bring to the stage as an artist. As a person who will admit that I halted my collection of Nine Inch Nails after completing Halo 1-15, I had hoped for some incredible blast to the past, but Trent saw things differently.  He seems to have known that the agression of some of his greatest songs might not come across in the television setting, so he gave us a great deal of his new effort, Hesitation Marks.

While it might have been surprising to get so few of the “classic” hits, what Nine Inch Nails brought out instead was pretty incredible.  It reminded me, and take this with a grain of salt please, but Wyld Stallyns.  I know that’s a stretch, but the idea that perhaps Trent is too far ahead of the curve is pretty important.  He’s been playing and toying with our perception of IDM for some time, but as he continues to push the boundaries by incorporating soul singers and electric violins, perhaps we’ve missed the point.  At Moody Theater he was every bit as involved in the animalistic beats beneath each track, and even though his anger seemed tame, it still kept a sharpness to the live show. I might not be the huge fan I once was, but I know that I definitely need to spend some time with his current catalog.  I respect Reznor a great deal, especially after the evening, so it only makes sense that he’s too far ahead of my tastes for me to even realize how good he truly is.

He closed the nigth with “Hurt,” which was an incredible song long before Cash allowed it to reemerge into the masses, and the night was over.  I’m grateful to have been there, and even more grateful to the intimate setting, as I think we got a Nine Inch Nails very few people get to witness anymore. Here’s a link to the SETLIST, for those that care.

Performance images are courtesy Scott Newton/ACLTV.

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