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Concert Review: Nine Inch Nails – Amsterdam, NL (27/05/14)

When I heard that Nine Inch Nails was coming to the Netherlands, I bought my tickets immediately.  I had the chance to see them in the past at the Lowlands festival but, due to illness, I could only stay to see half of the show. Needless to say I was very excited to be able to see them again and hopefully have a better experience this time.

I went to this concert alone but I didn’t particularly mind. To me, concerts are occasions where you have the opportunity to totally lose yourself in the music you love without having to deal with anything else.

I usually get to shows early so that I can be close to the stage (partly because I always hope to catch something when a band throws their drumsticks, guitar picks and what not in the crowd and partly because I’m actually quite short and value an unobstructed view). This time I arrived only a few minutes before the pre-band started to play. It was a conscious decision though. NIN is well known for having a spectacular light show which isn’t something you can fully enjoy from the front row. When I arrived at the venue the first thing I noticed was that pretty much everybody was wearing black. I actually wore black jeans by coincidence so I didn’t completely stand out, but the unwritten rule for black clothes at this concert amused me a bit. Black clothes have always been kind of a thing when you see rock bands live but I’ve never seen quite so many people dressed completely in black.

By the time I entered the hall the pre-band, Cold Cave, had already started to play. Their music reminded me a bit of a fusion of The Cure and Joy Division, two bands I don’t mind listening to. I’ve experienced a few really bad pre-acts at concerts in the past and I don’t mean that I didn’t like the music. I mean those bands just sounded downright tone-deaf. This band was definitely not one of them. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of people paying attention to them. Most people were just talking amongst themselves; not something too uncommon at concerts.

After forty minutes of playing, Cold Cave said their goodbyes. The hall was quite full by then and I started to regret my decision to stand in the back. Being short in the land with the tallest people on earth is always an issue when I go to concerts and I couldn’t really find a spot where I had a decent view of the stage. After twenty minutes of searching for a new spot I decided to sit down on one of the seats at the back of the hall. The view there was great.

After a few minutes NIN started the show with Me, I’m Not. The band sounded great and I enjoyed the view a lot; however, by the time the fourth song started to play I began to regret my decision for the second time that night. Sitting still at concerts is really hard for me, especially when the songs are as energetic as they were at NIN’s show. I decided once again to attempt to move to a different place. I settled for a place on one of the steps that lead towards the seats. Now being able to fully enjoy the concert, the rest of the night went by quickly.

One thing I was surprised to see was how ‘dead’ the crowd were. Very few people actually moved to the energetic beats of the band. A few managed to bob their heads but nothing more than that. The majority was just sitting or standing like a statue. Even when March of the Pigs came on (a song I expected to have a lot of people moshing to) most people were still not moving much. Even those in the front row who were a lot more energetic didn’t really open up the pit. Maybe this had to do with the fact that NIN has been around for quite some time and most fans are a bit older now (I think the average age at the concert was about 30 years old). But even then, to me that’s not a reason to stand completely motionless at concerts. Because of the stillness, even though the band was great, the concert kind of lacked in atmosphere.

Another thing that was slightly disappointing were the light effects. Although they were great and still the best I’ve seen from any band up until now, the effects were better at the Lowlands Festival. They didn’t differ much from what I had seen before but there were less props, screens and walls to create awesome illusions.

One thing that I found really great though was the fact that NIN didn’t only play tracks from their newest album Hesitation Marks. Of the twenty-one songs they played, only four of them belonged to the new record. They played songs from every (main) album they have released in the last twenty-five years which meant there was something for everyone from every era to enjoy.

All in all I had a great time at the concert and even though it could have been a slightly better experience, the band wasn’t at fault for it.

Setlist:

1 Me, I’m not (Year Zero)
2 Copy of A (Hesitation Marks)
3 1.000.000 (The Slip)
4 March of the Pigs (The Downward Spiral)
5 Piggy (The Downward Spiral)
6 The Frail/ The Wretched (The Fragile)
7 Gave Up (Broken EP)
8 Sanctified (Pretty Hate Machine)
9 Closer (The Downward Spiral)
10 Find My Way (Hesitation Marks)
11 The Warning (Year Zero)
12 Disappointed (Hesitation Marks)
13 Came Back Haunted (Hesitation Marks)
14 The Great Destroyer (Year Zero)
15 Eraser (The Downward Spiral)
16 Wish (Broken EP)
17 Burn (The Downward Spiral)
18 The Hand That Feeds (With Teeth)
19 Head Like a Hole (Pretty Hate Machine)
20 The Day the World Went Away (The Fragile)
21 Hurt (The Downward Spiral)

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