Nine Inch Nails
Queens Of The Stone Age
Perth Arena Tuesday, March 11. 2014
Well, just imagine the response if this tour had come through in the late ‘90s, hey? Never mind, the crowd seemed happy with the result despite the 15 year gap between 2014 and actual pop culture relevancy, with many pouring into the Perth Arena the second the gates were thrown wide. That gave support act Brody Dalle a strong audience, even if their key motivation was to secure their place at the foot of the stage for the later performance by her husband, Josh Homme, or his sparring partner, Trent Reznor.
Apparently Queens Of The Stone Age won the toss – the bands have been randomising their playing order for the tour – and, after a digital countdown from 60 that had the crowd straining at the leash, hit the ground running in an explosion of light and noise with the always fantastic You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire, following up with No One Knows. They ripped through a drumskin-tight set, leaning heavily on their most recent album, …Like Clockwork, and the crowd resposne showed just how successful that particular release had been. Josh Homme is an effortlessly commanding stage presence, whether roaring into the mic or recounting an earlier experience with an audience member, Gary, who had apparently snuck into the band’s tour van in Dublin while drunk, before inviting the clearly committed fan backstage for a beer. It was a fun, furious set, all rock ‘n’ roll swagger and good vibes.
And then you get Nine Inch Nails which is… not that. Trent and assistants decided to spread a wide net in terms of their setlist, opening in a blaze of blinding light with Copy A from Hesitation Marks. Frankly, an overreliance of deeper cuts at the expense of more popular material – where the hell was Closer? – was disappointing, but classics like March Of The Pigs, and Terrible Lie went off and it was fun to see some actual crowd-surfing going on in the pit, an activity rarely tolerated by security personnel these days.
The highlight of the NIN show was undoubtedly the blistering execution of Head Like A Hole, while the set was closed out by Hurt. No one seemed too happy when How To Destroy Angels collaborator – and Mrs Reznor – Mariqueen Maandig was trotted out for a couple of tracks, though. There were undoubtedly some fans in the crowd, but the vast majority of the attendees were there to see classic NIN – which is to say ‘90s NIN.
And that might be part of the problem. Reznor’s angry-at-my-parents posturing isn’t exactly a good look on a man with four decades and an Oscar under his belt, but what’s he supposed to do when is newer material isn’t as well received as his older stuff? There was hint of desperation to the NIN set which, while almost undetectable in the moment, is readily apparent on reflection. While both halves of the show were fun, QOTSA won by a nose in terms of both quality and dignity.