I'm writing this on the train back to Newcastle from Manchester. The culmination of my week was Nine Inch Nails at the manchester apollo. Here follows my gig report.
I brought up camera phones earlier in the week: the amateur coverage of the london bombing was an example of the technology playing an important role. By contrast, mobile phones are almost the low-point of the NIN concert.
I would honestly have thought that a NIN concert would be pretty rough, as rock concerts go. Where a mosh pit was once a place for crazy people covered in spikes to hit each other, the front of the gig was a strangely peaceful place. The spikey people were too preoccupied with taking photos on their camera phones to do any damage.
The crowd at the gig was quite teenager-heavy which may have also played a part. It's interesting to reflect on what makes a good crowd member and what a bad crowd member. Criteria for good crowd members include passing water backwards; taking the occasional elbow to the face with grace; laughing along and generally contributing to the atmosphere. Quite a few of the people around us were good crowd members.
Reznor's music is an interesting cross between heavy rock (crowd response: jumping up and down) and funky rhythms (crowd response: slightly more puzzled jumping up and down). The older songs were great, although the setlist had some conspicious holes in it. I was pleasantly suprised by the newer stuff: I haven't really got into the last album yet but bits worked well live. Lyrically speaking, there's lots of moaning and self-loathing which goes down a storm with the goths. Although it can get a bit extreme, you get the feeling that it's sincere. The drum-work was well above par and there were a few fantastically funky bass riffs.
Near the beginning of the gig, a couple of teenie-boppers in front of us squatted down as if searching for something on the floor. They then straightened up and launched knickers at the stage. Obviously they came prepared because one girl threw at least two pairs.
The temperature in Manchester was at least 30 degrees celcius which made the gig even hotter than it otherwise would have been. The stewards passed a lot of water over the front barrier and sprayed the crowd with water (from sprays which looked disturbingly like weed-killer bottles) at regular intervals. By the end of the concert I was utterly drenched. I bought a t-shirt out of necessity for survival, rather than desire, for the princely sum of 18-quid.
Water water water. Reznor typically looks drenched in sweat when you see photos of performances and this was no exception. However, he started the gig dripping. The band periodically threw bottles of water into the crowd and at each other. At one point, the two guitarists started pouring water over each other and chasing around on stage. At another, Reznor emptied a bottle over the keyboardist and his keyboards, prompting the roadies to run on with towels and panicked looks on their faces.
Overall, it was a fun gig with an unusually-friendly crowd, although it could have been a bit more lively at the front (and they should confiscate camera phones at the doors). The set was well structured (my only complaints would be the absence of Perfect Drug and starting with Wish, one of my favourite NIN songs, which would have worked better once people were warmed up).