Nine Inch Nails were amazing.
I’ve been a fan since the 90s, but I hadn’t seen them live until now. I was excited, but didn’t expect to be blown away.
They opened with Me, I’m Not, which delighted me as I’m a big Year Zero fan. I’ve not really clicked with the new album, Hesitation Marks, but I loved Copy of A and – later in the setlist – Came Back Haunted. On the album these tracked seemed over-produced, but they were brought to life in the gig.
I thought the Hydro was going to explode with the stomper of a performance that was March of the Pigs, followed by a deliciously creepy Piggy that had the audience singing along. It’s 20 years since the release of The Downward Spiral, so to hear these songs live felt really special.
When I was studying for my Degree and Masters I had The Fragile and Year Zero on repeat, helping me get through all my assignments and exam revision and I loved hearing some of my favourites from these albums. The Wretched sends shivers through me when I listen to the album; hearing it live had my whole body tingling. The Great Destroyer is another favourite and didn’t disappoint as it descended into noise with a backdrop video montage of Blair, Bush, and scenes from the Iraq war.
It was wonderful to look down on the crowd and seeing them going crazy; to have that perspective was great, and it really made me feel a part of something magical. Though, if it wasn’t for the stupid chronic illness I have which means I can’t stand for very long, I would have been standing down in the front row. It makes me sad that my standing in concerts days are over, but I’m glad I was able to go to this gig at all.
My experience of chronic illness and pain is tied up with my experience of music and this in turn informs my writing both directly and indirectly. My first piece to be published in an anthology, She’s a Liquid (which you can download here), is about the healing power of music and has an appearance from NIN. My sci-fi body horror story, Wire, which is to be published in the New Writing Scotland 32 anthology in July has a character in it – Caram – who I pictured as Trent. It explores what it means to be human and embodied, and the ways we experience pain and pleasure.
The concert closer, Hurt, was beautiful and heartbreaking, with a backdrop of reptiles, insects, and holocaust and Vietnam war footage. It was the perfect coda, leaving you bereft and begging for more. I could have stayed there all night, never wanting it to end.
I’ve been to a lot of gigs over the years, and with this one I was wondering if I’d missed the NIN boat (were they past it? etc. Was I past it?), but it turned out to be the best concert I’ve ever been to. Sometimes when you see a band live, the vocals can be a bit ropey, but Trent’s voice was absolutely stunning throughout. The energy of the gig was amazing, and the lighting and visuals were perfect. The gig left me feeling stunned and utterly alive, and even more ambitious. My chosen career is author and my gods are in rock n roll.
Setlist: Me I’m Not, Copy of A, 1000000, March Of The Pigs, Piggy, The Frail, The Wretched, Gave Up, Sanctified, Closer, The Warning, Find My Way, Disappointed, Came Back Haunted, The Great Destroyer, Eraser, Wish, Only, The Hand That Feeds, Head Like A Hole
(Encore:) The Day The World Went Away, Hurt