Bizarre yet still mesmerising.
I'm not sure what it is with me, but the two Nine Inch Nails shows I've ever been to had them on an 'off day'. If any of you were at the Sonisphere show in 2009 then you'll know exactly what I am talking about. The show that day was bizarre, lifeless almost, yet brilliant in it's own unique way, and that's the best way I can describe the band's performance at this years Reading Festival. News began to rumble around in the day that the band had had a spat with the festival's organisers and tonight's headline act Biffy Clyro surrounding the stage show. Despite apparently not having everything in place it was brilliantly atmospheric. It felt like a slightly streamlined version of the chaos that usually comes with a full NIN stage show (well probably because it was...) but it didn't take anything away.
Half of the set was very electronic based, as the band lined up literally in a line down the front of the stage. Smothered in smoke Trent Reznor and co. treated the crowd to several new tracks (more than some of the other dates on the tour) all of which were met with a good enough reception. However as the show rumbled on, the band just lost so much of the crowd. At the same time Reznor barely addressed the crowd at all. The odd 'Thanks' here and there was broken up by a random "By the way, fuck Rock n Roll!" jibe. I guess that's just the kind of mood he was in...
The crowd's attention quickly swung back as soon as the set got a bit heavier. In hindsight, the set-list was actually put together brilliantly. The more atmospheric numbers building towards the frenzied heavy material and more classic numbers like March Of The Pigs and Burn. The lack of Hurt to close the set pissed a few people off but it just wouldn't have felt right the way the set was built. It felt like a train coming towards you, first at a distance, then suddenly hurtling at full speed right in your face.
So overall then, much has been said about this performance, and much will be said about it in the future. Fact is Nine Inch Nails turned up and did what they do best, delivering the unexpected. Yeah sure, they were maybe throwing a few toys out of the pram and weren't on top form, but they're still an unbelievable live band.