|TROY VAN LEEUWEN|
FROM: PALM DESERT, CALIFORNIA
SOUND: ALTERNATIVE/HARD ROCK
Deciding the playing order each night with the flip of a coin, we were seen to first by Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails, who appeared in what must surely be career-best form. Boasting a formidable catalogue of classic albums, Reznor dipped evenly between them during his band's eighty-minute engagement. This latest touring incarnation features only four members, with Reznor conducting the entire performance (light show included) through a series of movements and hand gestures like a finely oiled machine. Sporting crystal-clear sound mixing and one of the most dazzling displays of lighting and concert stagecraft imaginable, NIN offered an instantly arresting experience. The sonic and visual intensity of this live show must truly be seen to be believed.
It becomes apparent very quickly how a band can inspire such devout and fanatical followers. Dense, atmospheric tones meld together with hard industrial guitars, live and programmed percussion to underscore stunning vocal delivery and carnal imagery. Spending most of the night crouched like a hunted animal, Reznor is ready for battle and in fine voice, whispering with astonishing intensity and bellowing with great power. The absence of what may be considered their signature tune (‘Closer’) is hardly felt as Reznor and co visit each career phase and album diligently, airing tracks from each record, even finding time for a selection from ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ score. It was a complete and definitive collection of songs, and by the time the band closed their set with the chilling anti-drug anthem ‘Hurt’, there was was no doubting the relevance and power of NIN remains as strong as ever.
Opening with the one-two punch of ‘Millionaire’ and ‘No One Knows’ from 2002’s landmark ‘Songs For Deaf’, Queens Of The Stone Age meant business. Every minute of their nineteen-song headline set was triumphant and celebratory. “This is a beautiful night,” announced Josh Homme between illegal cigarettes and throwing his bourbon across the stage. The most recent effort ‘…Like Clockwork’ was one of last year’s recorded highlights, and we were treated to most of that album alongside choice cuts from their sizeable greatest hits catalogue. ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’, ‘Song For The Dead’ and ‘Little Sister’ prompted rousing approval from the receptive crowd who lapped up Homme’s swaggering showmanship and relished the task of singing ‘Make It Wit Chu’ back to the band.
Opening with the one-two punch of ‘Millionaire’ and ‘No One Knows’ from 2002’s landmark ‘Songs For Deaf’, Queens Of The Stone Age meant business.
Backed by a giant screen of detailed flashing images, the visuals made excellent accompaniment without pulling focus from the band’s committed performances. Somewhat of a revolving door of musicians, the current QOTSA assembly is lean, complex and writing songs that are among the best in the band’s long existence. ‘I Appear Missing’ is simply spellbinding and executed here live to perfection. QOTSA succeed in creating a brand of heavy rock that is groovy, moshable, funky, hard, funny, sexy and ferociously catchy. It could be argued that Homme’s live vocals never quite reach the heights achieved through rocking, but when you’re being hit with the full force of the band’s live strength, there is little time to really worry about anything other than how much fun you’re having.
This was a double headline tour that more than justified itself. Consistent and dedicated performances from two of alt-rocks most prestigious and hardworking bands under one roof on one night. Here’s hoping we’ll see more of the like in the future.