Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Featured Reviews: Stellarium, Women Of The Night, Vancorvid, Simon Boswell, Translove Airwaves

Recorded works takes precedence over live concerts this month, as a number of high quality (and woefully under reported) creative types (musicians, filmmakers) reached out for analysis and recognition. As bloated internet sources tripped over each other posting the same repetitive paid for PR announcements (devoid of any actual thoughtful insight) freedom from those callous trappings allow this site to focus solely on the art. The question that haunts daily is this – is EVERYTHING for sale? Is financial commerce the ONLY motivating reason to care about anything? Quoting a rock journalist LEGEND who was never driven by that, Lester Bangs once said, “the only questions worth asking today are whether humans are going to have any emotions tomorrow, and what the quality of life will be if the answer is no.”

It's been a few years since the music of Stellarium was fully featured here on this site. Their self-titled debut album garnered a track-by-track breakdown at that time with an accompanying recap by yours truly over on The Deli Mag a few weeks after. The band now has a brand new seven track collection, delivering nearly a 40 minutes mix of alternately fiery and glowing sonics.

Leadoff track “Summer Bloodbath” teases 7 seconds of backward looping before moving into a fuller ambient cathedral wash. Open high-hat cymbals signal the rhythm section kicking in, as bass guitar and drums thunder underneath shimmering guitar chords. Its fast paced and rhythmic – a propulsive forward motion assault. Vocals emerge with varying degrees of FX masking, providing an ominous howl over the frenetic rhythm that continues to churn underneath. Despite the songs macabre title, a warm sensation is felt through the rushing guitar washes, rising single note melodies and counter-melody bass guitar figures. If this is truly about a “murderous bloodbath,” the accompanying soundtrack to it here adds a certain romantic beauty.

Paradox” comes on harder edged, with aggressive deeper toned guitars, rapid-fire drum roll bursts and high-pitched squeals creating a hyper-force rising swell. Vocals take on that unintelligible heavy-effects laden texture that serves more as another instrument, rather than any kind of actual storytelling vehicle. Whether a possible truth can ultimately be revealed by contradictory forces seems a moot point within the framework of this sonic exploration. Ferocious battering often engulfs segments of this track, as quick fluid bass patterns propel matching-speed drumming and rising guitar onslaught. The final minute has the tempo shifting down a gear for a raucous jam-out coda.

A live version of this can be heard here.

The pace is brought down somewhat on third track “Lo,” as dreamier elements are explored through chiming guitar textures and more inquisitive vocals. Fuller motion is once again provided by a busy rhythm section that employs free roaming bass guitar work. Not to be outdone, the percussion is locked on tight with precisely confident snare-shot accents. Longer note guitar melodies are woven in and throughout the course of this nearly 8 minute song. As one might expect from a track of this length, an ambient breakdown appears just past the halfway point, allowing for further auditory explorations.

The vigorous drive returns for “Still” which adds elements of “gothic-pop sonics” - rumbling, low-note Bauhaus-like bass – open note arpeggio Cure-like guitar figures – and a more clearly defined chord progression. While the (still) unintelligible psychedelic vocals also skewer toward romanticism, is it happiness or “the hanging garden” serving as ultimate final destination?

Returning to deep, trippy, ambient sensations, “You Die Inside” bathes the listener with engulfing aural washes before glimmering guitar chords emerge. A deliberate progression slowly takes shape before dream-like vocals appear. Well placed minor chords adds a sensual dimension to the overall proceedings. A final one-minute coda sees the band ultimately opening up for a dynamic finish.

Heavily fuzzed bass notes and audible squeals usher in “Space Candy.” Hard battering drums and wildly chugged guitars fuel this explosive rave-up, while the vocals continue to be applied with deep reverb and drawn-out enunciation. At 2:43, it serves as the shortest track in this collection.

Final (and epic) track “Dynasty” closes everything out with the longest contribution here at over eight and a half minutes. A deep percussive beat anchors doom-laden riffs as violent guitar layers thrash over top. Vocals come in that deeply muffled manner that a band like A Place To Bury Strangers frequently exploits. In fact the pacing and overall sense of foreboding on this track pays a certain homage (whether intentional or not) to Mr. Ackermann's finest work. Halfway in the brutal pummeling gives way to an ambient plateau where the clearly audible vocal question is put forth: “how does it feel when everything is you know gone?” With only seconds to ponder that, the answer comes via more frenzied instrumental aggression.

While waiting for all this new material to fully emerge as streams and downloads, you can check out all of the bands previous work at their Bandcamp.

Additional DaveCromwellWrites features on Stellarium can be found here:

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There's a retro mid-70's punky garage rock feel to Women Of The Night's latest release “Moscow Mansions.” It's slow-burn two-chord groove and rough-hewn city street vocals feels like a lost track off the original Live At CBGB's album. One could picture this primal groove rooted in 50's style strolling blues and gritty urban lyrics fitting seamlessly between The Tuff Darts and Mink DeVille on that seminal record. While those artist drew inspiration from legends like Van Morrison, modern touches emerge throughout this current track.

With the resolving hook centering around how “she” (then “he”) is “gonna catch them stars” and “ain't coming down again,” a ghostly keyboard melody line is added on the second pass through. Leading into a longer than anticipated instrumental segment imbues the track with a subtle psychedelic quality. Arriving at a dramatic pause, subsequent background vocals and final descending melody adds one more distinctive touch. “It's getting harder every day - I ain't gonna let you go by” is declared while tasty guitar riffing bubbles up inside of those ending lyrics.

Opening with the chord progression strummed out cleanly on an unadorned guitar, second track “Be Careful What You Wish For” sees heavier single notes quickly entering the mix for dramatic effect. Shuffling drums and bass are joined by an alternating keyboard melody as the lyrical story unfolds. Channeling elements of early (Freewheelin') Bob Dylan and all those who followed that conversational songwriting style (from Lou Reed through Nick Cave and the hordes of others), compelling imagery set to melody and rhythm takes hold. “5:30 as the city empties out - I wish I could just be a part of your well oiled machine - conversations the persuasions as the business men do business - they try their luck - and they dance around the streets and bars - as they proposition underage girls.”

The chorus moves things closer to pop hooks however, with the catchy refrain: “I've got you on repeat - girl be careful what you wish for - you've got me on speed dial -you only call me when you need to.” An unexpected level of pathos shines through via some well-placed (and haunting) slide guitar work. Ultimately this clever story concludes with a reckless (yet life affirming) denouement: “I just love the thought that sometimes betting with your heart you can surely win.”

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Sharon Victoria Courtney is an Irish musician based out of Toronto, Canada making original music under the name Vancorvid.  It is a unique and intoxicating sound that blends classical instruments, modern electronics and mysterious spoken word prose.  Her latest release "Summon" sees her original composition (initially mixed and championed by Martin Bowes of Attrition) expanded upon through a Precious Child remix and accompanied by its strikingly cinematic video.

Opening with visuals of hands fluttering like wings, four distinct chordal chimes are struck before it all goes temporarily quiet. The image (and sound) of plucked harp strings is presented before a fuller, driving, percussive rhythm takes over, accompanying quick-cut moving pictures of frames, yarn, nails and scissors. Extended note reverberated voices float over the mix that includes a fluctuating 4 note melody pattern and piercing violin. Another quick pause ushers in a pulsing electronic pattern and the spoken word narration, providing the thematic core of this composition.

 “Summon your courage. Your fake beliefs that you barely hold to and come to me. Summon your voice to speak.” A dream-like quality envelops the viewer with quick-cut images of the artists face next to elements of nature.

 Blending violin textures with whispered voices, a steady throbbing beat creates motion until the next dramatic pause. Vocals re-emerge more fully sung, yet bathed in gossamer qualities as clouds float through horizontal faces.

 The overall sensation is that of a psychedelic experience (of which dreams often resemble). Rich violins, humming voices and the return of those fluttering hands imagery pulls everything full circle.

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A dovetailing of two like-minded forces has developed through a mutual fascination with and passion for the psychedelic state of mind. Award winning over 30 year career film composer Simon Boswell and alternative conscious film-maker Matt Levin are seeking to push the boundaries of their individual crafts through collaborative and individual projects.

While Mr. Boswell continues to simultaneously celebrate and rework his decades long soundtracks to many of the most innovative alternative films of our times, Mr. Levin has chronicled this recent activity through his Translove Airwaves outlet.  Reaching out beyond the recording studio, Simon Boswell and his band The And have been performing live over the last few years. They brought their multi-media live show to The Mercury Lounge on October 3rd, 2018 and Translove Airwaves captured featured segments of that performance on film. Shared here is Mr. Boswell and his band performing a segment of his composition from the cult-classic film “Hackers.”

While that particular film was critically panned, but loved by audiences (as it's 32% and 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes would confirm) - and spawned a budding romance between a very young Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy in "Trainspotting" and Sherlock on TV's "Elementary) and Angelina Jolie (very well known) Simon's use of synthesizers on its film score reflected that eras fascination over emerging cyberpunk culture.

Mr. Boswell has recently stated that he and director Iain Softley are working on the definitive soundtrack release of this film on vinyl.  Included with the original score there will be featured tracks by The Prodigy, Underworld, Orbital, Leftfield, Carl Cox, Stereo MCs and the composer himself.

As one might expect of an artist who's career has spanned three decades and continues on today, there is no shortage of material to draw upon.  Providing soundtracks for a who's who of groundbreaking film-makers,  the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky ("Santa Sangre"), Dario Argento ("Phenomena"), Michael Hoffman ("A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Danny Boyle ("Shallow Grave") and Richard Stanley ("Hardware," "Dust Devil") have all been scored by Mr. Boswell.

Having earned the freedom to rework his original film score material (where he was always beholden to the directors final choices), the live show now features visuals from the movies remixed to fit his music.  What he refers to as "revenge of the film composer." Directors Jodorowsky, Argento and Richard Stanley all appear as virtual video spoken word artists.

In addition to his film score work, Simon also distinguished himself as a record producer and remixer.  Achieving huge successes in the Italian market, he went on to work with world class artists like Elton John, Marianne Faithful, Dolly Parton and Andrea Bocelli.  His unique style combines electronic and orchestral instruments, acoustic and slide guitar and synthesizers.

The recent live show at Mercury Lounge shows Simon introducing his “Hackers” music with a story about how like-minded psych artist (and VR specialist) James Edward Marks introduced him to computer programmers who coded under the influence of psychedelics. As the digital code imagery running behind the musicians blended with the sounds being produced, visual trails are recreated to represent one aspect of that mental state. It's a wonderfully immersive experience that expands further with powerful live electric guitar. Mood altering tempo shifts are combined with detailed footage from the film (a seriously intense Jonny Lee with equations flying around his head) while Simon unleashes precise guitar solos like Edgar Froese in 1970's era Tangerine Dream.  Percussion thunders away underneath as the images of baby face Angelina Jolie speaking into a land-line phone enhance the visuals.

Sharing a similar attraction to and devotion for the connections that broad spectrum psychedelic thinking offers, film-maker Matt Levin works through his Translove Airwaves platform as a consciousness raising force.  Combing his love for music and film school training, Matt explores psychedelia as a natural component of our complex brain interactions, moving beyond simple drugs-only applications.  Choosing instead to focus on the unlimited scope that everything in this life has to offer - be it art, music, technology and positive healing lifestyle choices - all contribute to a higher level of cognitive awareness.  View the Translove Airwaves trailer below:

Translove Airwaves | Official Trailer. from Translove Airwaves on Vimeo.

Matt owes a debt of gratitude to psychedelic film-makers like Alejandro Jodorosky, as well as individuals who continue to provide guidance to this day.  In particular, management/production guru Dave Newton and animation artist Batuhan Bintas.

Links to everyone mentioned here have been provided at the first instance of each of their names.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Caught Live: Mahogany, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Nine Inch Nails, A Place To Bury Strangers, The New Tarot, Apollo's Ghost, Kite Base

October swung heavily towards live concerts, all happening within the first two weeks of the month. Incredible shows from Mahogany, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Nine Inch Nails, A Place To Bury StrangersThe New Tarot, Apollo's Ghost and Kite Base were attended and captured inside of the first thirteen days.  While newfound friendships and collaborative partnerships were formed at some, decade-long relationships provided additional spark at the larger and more grand events that attract this level of participation.  A unique perspective focuses on both the dynamic audio and visual sensations experienced at these shows.

Mahogany is a band making beautiful extended musical pieces that defies any one singular category or genre. Combining the talents Andrew Prinz and Jaclyn Slimm, a dreamy (yet often beat heavy) swirl of instruments and voices propel the listener into a world of symphonic sound and graceful dance trained movements.

Playing an early evening set at Williamsburg's Brooklyn Bowl on October 7th, the unit took full advantage of it's larger room sound system and spacious stage.

Having established a new found professional alliance earlier in the evening with emerging live show photographer Toktamism.concert,  a number of compelling shots from that lens (like the one above) are featured here, further enhancing this event's visual.

With close proximity to the well lit stage, numerous @davecromwell shots also served to capture much of this enticing performance.

Breaking from previous set list patterns, the band opened the night with the brand new Jaclyn penned song "A Scaffold."  A brief :15 second capture of it's overall mood and feel can be heard here.  Lyrical themes of "liberation," "nihilation" and "transcendence" can be found within it's sonic textures.

Photo by Toktamism.concert

Alternating between adding rich guitar textures to Andrew's full orchestra of sound, Jaclyn frequently picked up the mic to sing unencumbered while gracefully moving around.

Photo by Toktamism.concert

 A lovely version of “Polyvalance” was captured and can be experienced here:

There is a delicate power in Andrew's twelve string playing on this, that at times evokes the abstract and free-flowing style of Kevin Shields less bombastic work with My Bloody Valentine.

Along with being a concert venue, Brookyn Bowl functions as an actual bowling alley, and those partaking in that activity benefit by having the band's images projected on screens in front of them.

Moving seamlessly through their set, favorites like "A Third Prism" (with the lyric "We got a message in a digital flag, In pristine code from another land") and "Commutator" (a brief IG "story" clip being captured here) warning "they will knock out your towers and plunge you into darkness" filled the cavernous room with their enchanting sound.

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Photos by Toktamism.concert

That was followed by the emotionally uplifting "In White Rooms" which perfectly captures the dual purpose essence of  Mahogany's appeal.   Against the doubled 12 string chiming guitar strums (that's 24 strings in total, people) Andrew sings the stick-in-your-head hook "Jackie's kisses, all my love all my love" with sincere warmth and enthusiasm.   Jaclyn then sang her part in the mysterious (and adorable) French language, while adding a curtsy to her movements.  Andrew's rising motion guitar work behind it all heightens this upward sensation, with Jaclyn moving back in with her own guitar techniques.   Check out this all around lovely sonic and visual experience here:

"Universal Promenades" had Jaclyn putting the guitar down once more to deliver her falsetto vocals as the lead singer, while a chugging, jangling percussion came paired with Andrew's guitar patterns.

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Other tracks played included "Resistance and Release" and "Keystone Sonata."

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Photos by Toktamism.concert

With the live set version of lengthy recorded work "Phase Break" being pared down to the workable edit "Phase Caress."

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For their final song of the night, they rolled out an all-encompassing guitar churning buildup that precedes Jaclyn's vocals on “Express Clean Power.” With a motorik percussive pattern ticking away, frantic washes of guitar overtones envelope the senses. In between mysterious vocal lines, Jaclyn delivers a powerful atmospheric guitar burst.

Check out this amazing performance here:

Portrait of a dedicated follower.
Photo by Toktamism.concert
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With snapshot capture on social media

A previous feature on this site covering the exploits of Mahogany can be found here (with links to others inside of that one).

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After a quick changeover, powerhouse instrumental trio Apollo's Ghost took to the stage and crushed out an impressive, well-crafted set of music.

Photos of Apollo's Ghost by Toktamism.concert

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The band is a tight three-piece unit that incorporates a number of different styles and genres - often within the space of one single three and a half minute song.

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At times there was an easy going western feel within various extended passages.  Ben Curtis' guitar work provided a number of distinct melodies over top of bassist Dave Sutkin and drummer Ray Mazza's rumbling precision rhythm section.

Inside of appealing, uncomplicated chord patterns, a series of structured rhythmic breaks and moving bass lines revealed a deeper sophisticated approach to songwriting.

Social media connection

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Headlining the show on this night was the dual sisters fronted occult influenced act The New Tarot.

Photos of  The New Tarot by Toktamism.concert

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While Monika Walker commanded the stage with a charismatic presence and strong vocals, sister Karen complemented the sound with her own potent vocals along with playing all of the keyboards.

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With the release now of their 10 track debut album Book of Promises (which you can listen to streaming here), the Walker sisters present a determined, coordinated effort to advance their collective ideas. 

Calling their album "a sci-fi rock opera," introductory track "Kingdom" leans on slow building ambiance, stark piano, plucked strings and dramatic-to-intimate Kate Bush-like vocals.  

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"The Skinny" marries industrial and trip-hop beats to a middle-eastern vibe while questions like "are you crazy?" stand out in contrast to more complex thoughts being conveyed.
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Probably the most surprising track on the album is it's closer "America."  Incorporating subtle elements of country and folk along with their own unique perspective (and deep synths), a lyrical story attempting to see things from all sides emerges, leaving enough room for your own interpretation of the intended message.

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A few days earlier, an opportunity too good to pass up presented itself as New York City's reigning kings of noisy psych rock - A Place To Bury Strangers treated their fans to a live in-store performance at the Dr. Martens store in Manhattan on October 4th.

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Not knowing what to expect from a show in a shoe store (albeit the very cool Doc Martens), it was a big of a surprise to see everything set up at ground level, right in front of the merchandise.

Lio Kanine helped set the mood with a DJ set of steady 90's Dreampop, Psych and Gaze classics.

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APTBS wasted little time as they lurched into fast paced set of classic face-melters mixed in with newer material.

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This show also doubled as a pre-released celebration of their brand new remix album Re-Pinned.
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Midway through the set, Dion bull rushed the crowd (tethered bass still very much plugged in) and waded into the audience, much to the delight of all in attendance.

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And the band raged on.

The first casualty of the night - Dion's bass.

Stoked audience members, soaking it all in.

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Royal guitars, pedals and stompboxes

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Check out this wild performance of their wonderful Transfixiation song "We've Come So Far" from this appearance here:

Reflected energy

Space bass

Social Media Shenanigans

Numerous DaveCromwellWrites features on APTBS (and Dion Lunadon, solo) can be found at the links below:

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When the announcement went out way back in May that Nine Inch Nails and "special guests" The Jesus and Mary Chain were going out on tour together in Autumn, an archaic level of hysteria from a previous bygone era was created.

Forcing eager attendees into what they called a "Physical World Presale," the justification for this was explained this way [with personal thoughts and commentary added in brackets, in between]:

The promise of a world made better by computers and online connectivity has failed us in many ways, particularly when it comes to ticketing. Everything about the process sucks and everyone loses except the reseller. [And yet - this did not prevent any reselling profiteering - in fact it actually added fuel it]

We’ve decided to try something different that will also likely suck [and it did], but in a different way. [Did that make it "better?"]   We’re hoping many of you will be happy with the results, while some may do what they always do and bitch about it. [Nice dismissal of their fans concerns].   Here’s how it works: You (an actual human being) show up at the box office, interact with the ticket seller (another actual human being) and purchase up to four tickets that will actually be handed to you on the spot. The tickets will not be available online or anywhere else before or during that day. All seats (including the best seats) will be available first come, first serve. You may actually encounter other actual human beings with similar interests likely wearing black clothing during the process and potentially interact with THEM. [Right - because there is no other way to do this - oh, right - how about every time you go out to a local club?]  The experience has the potential* to be enjoyable. [with the smug asterisked addition *not guaranteed - and it wasn't] Nine Inch Nails has always been about bringing people together, living life to the fullest and good times.** [** not entirely true - One more attempt at humor?]  Any remaining tickets will be sold at a later date.  [And of course they were - hawked relentlessly by "authorized" resellers at marked up prices - online.  Please explain again what this "Physical World Presale" accomplished or prevented?]

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Sufficiently whipped up by this hype and the "need" to be there when "our heroes" took the stage - the planning and ultimate execution of this near military-like mission was undertaken.

After five hours of standing in the pouring rain, treasured seats were ultimately secured.  The fact that only days later two more shows were added in Brooklyn (which is the exact same "regional market") - selling those tickets the new fashioned way - online - only added further to the absurdity of the "physical presale."

Ultimately once showtime arrives, all the costs both physical and financial are pushed aside by the anticipation of the event you are about to experience.

Massive lighting trucks squeezed onto busy Manhattan side streets just outside provided an indication of what was to come.

Inside the visual aspect of this storied theater conveyed an impressive display of grandeur from decades past.

The Grand Foyer

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With more modern offerings like reasonably (!?!) prices beverages.

As well as the obligatory feeding frenzy at merch counters.

The visual splendor of this building's Art Deco architecture comes into greater focus once seated.

Opening the show was the duo Kite Base, who along with a lot of keyboard electronics boast the distinction of both members playing bass guitar.

In fact dark haired member Ayse Hassan also serves as the bassist in the more well-known band Savages.

Taking full advantage of the larger stage, lighting and sound - the two woman band filled the arena was their sonic waves while early arrivals found their seats.

Vocalist (other bass and keyboard triggering) Kendra Frost sang with a distinct English accent and vocal phrasing which, along with the songs progressions had the feel of Siouxsie Sioux fronting an industrial act.  Which is certainly an appealing combination.

Check out their song "Transition" here.

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The equipment changeover was something of an eye opener as the sheer number of stagehands scurrying about seemed a bit excessive. At one point it appeared there were 20-30 individuals on stage at the same time. However the conversion was quick and seamless, so one would have to assume each and every individual provided a necessary task.

Soon enough it was finally time for the co-main event (for some of us the main event) The Jesus and Mary Chain.  Playing a crisp tight set of "greatest hits" they opened with arguably their most well-known song "Just Like Honey."

Surely aware they were "on the clock," little time was wasted before launching into the classic Automatic album cut "Head On."  The band is super tight now (which was not always the case) and Jim Reid's voice sounds as good as it ever was.   They're a band that "makes you wanna feel, makes you wanna try - makes you wanna blow the stars from the sky."

Next up was the first major highlight for this uber fan - and the first dip into their current Damage and Joy album "Amputation."   Devoted fans who already knew this song originally as a Jim solo cut called "Dead End Kids" have seen this reworked version grow over the last two years.  His biting lyrics remain unchanged from the original showing maturity and honest appraisal of the world around him. “Try to win your interest back, but you ain’t havin’ none of that. We’re just like a ship in a bottle, kissed today but fucked tomorrow - I don’t know, I guess that we are through. Fucked up girls like drugged up guys, but that won’t keep them warm at night. It’s just like a grape in a bottle, it’s wine today but piss tomorrow – I don’t know, I guess that we’re all through."   The song reaches it's high point with Jim leaning into the lyric "Amp-u-taaaaayyyyy-shun" while brother William lets rip with shards of buzzy guitar riffs.

The other big MTV hit from Automatic - "Blues From A Gun" continues to delight with it's dirty Peter Gunn riff and nod to Bob Dylan's lyrical imagery.

The only other song played from Damage and Joy on this evening (very different from their tour last year which obviously showcased many tracks from their just released album) was the William Reid penned "All Things Pass."  William's dominant guitar riff and rich deep-boned licks provide the melody for ironic and amusingly self-deprecating lyric "I have taken a vow - to prove myself -to find me - I'm regrettin' it now - 'cause I found me!"  An elongated quick stop break has been added in the middle, showing how this one continues to evolve.

A mainstay in their live show since that very first reunion in 2007, "Some Candy Talking" epitomizes the bands ability to balance between quiet build-up and explosive release.   There are times when Jim sounds like he's singing with western drawl on the verses, as if channeling Lee Hazlewood.  Of course there is William's star guitar moment after Jim signals that with the single word "talk."

Fourth studio album Honey's Dead provided a number of classic songs that garner steady inclusion in the live show, and "Far Gone And Out" is certainly a worthy one. The bass-heavy, fuzzed-out three-chord stomp shines as Jim sings “It’s like a heart attack!” Further lines like “well I’m television sick and I’m television crazy” indicate the songwriting has always been equally about insightful lyrics. “Ah hey hey HEY! She’s the meanest mean. Ah hey hey HEY! She’s the sickest sick. Ah hey hey HEY! She’s the blackest black. Ah hey hey HEY! I gotta get her back.  She's never comin' back.  Ah, no no no!

Drawing from their "final" (before this latest one) studio album Munki the buzz-fuzzy "Cracking Up" was played.  A caustic self-psychoanalysis where being a “freak” gives you “the view of a rat king's son.” With the further declaration that “I guess I'm new and I don't know what to do. I'll judge you fine in my mind in my...

Dipping back into the Psychocandy album, the track that inspired much of A Place To Bury Strangers sound "In A Hole" was given the large venue treatment.  The band delivers this sheering squall as Jim sings “I step crueler - But less defined - Striped cats cooler - But so is mine - And I want to see - What I want to be - And I see me on a touching screen - And I'm dancing to a scream.” However, it is genius or insanity to come up with a rhyme that goes “How can something crawl within - My rubber holy baked bean tin!”

Live show staple (and third from Automatic on this night) "Halfway To Crazy" delighted the audience with it's slight country-meets-pop-rock sound.

Building this tight-schedule, limited-time-allowed set to reach it's peak at the end, the gloriously noisy "I Hate Rock 'n' Roll" (with it's own biting lyrics about "people with nothing to show") explodes into a veritable psych-rock guitar jam between William and Scott.

With Jim announcing we've reached the final song of the night, he thanked the audience for attending and the host band for having them.   Bassist Mark swapped out the one he was playing for a different one, no doubt due to having that 4 stringer correctly in tune for the high-point grand finale "Reverence."  This particular Honey's Dead track has now become the sonic tour-de-force where William truly soars.   While the band thunders on furiously underneath, William takes off on strong melody driven forays of guitar explorations.  It has really built into this massive psych-rock psych-out that embraces it's Iggy Pop "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog" lick appropriation and runs much deeper into the jungle.   Drummer Brian is given a moment take a spotlight roll with a full band breakdown wrapped around it.  Better effects are now added to Jim's voice as the echoes of "I wanna diiiiiieeeee - just like JFK - on a sunny daaaaaaaaayyyyy" fill the venue.

Check out the brilliant performance of it from this very show:

An alternate view (from closer seats) can be had by viewing fellow JAMC acolyte Andrew's recording here (which includes the previous "I Hate Rock and Roll" as well).

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With no bad seats in the house, a center front location in any of the mezzanine sections afforded a high quality viewing and listening experience.

Of which attendees were more than happy to enjoy.

Soon emerging from a cloud of smoke and lights, headliners Nine Inch Nails kicked off their show with "Mr. Self Destruct" from their 1994 (and personal favorite) album The Downward Spiral.

A steady barrage of explosive lighting assaulted the audience for the next hour-and-a-half-to-two-hours.

Along with that came a twenty song set that spanned their entire career arc from 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine up through and including their current 2018 release Bad Witch.

Second song in, 1992 Broken EP standout track "Wish" delivered on all the pent up aggression and violence some of us felt (and sometimes still do) at whatever point in life we first heard it.  While the chorus of "Wish there was something real, Wish there was something true, Wish there was something real, In this world full of you" begs for some kind of meaning to our existence, the verses deal with self analytical disgust at more grim realizations.  "I'm the one without a soul, I'm the one with this big fucking hole. No new tale to tell, Twenty-six years, on my way to hell!  Gotta listen to your big-time, hard-line, bad luck, fist-fuck!  Don't think you're having all the fun -  You know me, I hate everyone!"

Lyrics and sound that won a Grammy in 1993!

The live band is a finely honed unit incorporating the best that technology in 2018 has to offer along with obviously skilled musicians.  While everyone at every level now uses audio enhancements (what has been commonly referred to as "backing tracks" - look no further than your local club band at the smallest venue with the laptop as an essential "instrument"), ear-worm trigger sounds like instantly recognizable percussive ticks now come as part of the package.  That said, the majority of sound still appears to be emanating from Trent Reznor's voice and guitar (and anything else he choose to honk or poke at during the show), first mate Atticus Ross on keyboards, super-stud guitarist Robin Finck, trusted bassist/keyboardist (you can never have too many keyboards in this band) Alessandro Cortini and madman drummer Ilan Rubin (who puts on a helluva show!).

Moving on to newer material, they played "Less Than" from their 2017 Add Violence EP, which is a excellent track in the same style of their early (and best) work.

Another The Downward Spiral classic "March Of The Pigs" followed, with the more introspective, quieter offering "The Lovers."

Taking things even further down the rabbit hole of "anxiety, advanced self-awareness and amplified chaos" another Add Violence contribution emerged with the late-period Bowie influenced  "This Isn't The Place."

 The first major high point arrived via the brilliantly scathing Downward Spiral classic "Reptile."  A truly complete musical composition, percussive audio elements and overall pace do as much to conjure up the image of slithering movement as any of the lyrics do.  However those lyrics are truly inspired in their tale of willing engagement in depravity.  "Devils speak of the ways in which she'll manifest.   Angels bleed from the tainted touch of my caress.   Need to contaminate to alleviate this loneliness.   I now know the depths I reach are limitless.   Oh my beautiful liar,  Oh my precious whore,  My disease my infection -  I am so impure."

Check out how they sounded playing it at THIS show:

Much has already been made since the start of this tour about how NIN is now playing the 1997 contribution to David Lynch's film Lost Highway track "The Perfect Drug" live for the first time ever.  It's inclusion in this evenings show added another special moment in being there.

Midway through the set, a three song arc of brand new album "Bad Witch" material was presented.

With "Shit Mirror"

"Ahead of Ourselves"

and "God Break Down the Door" all making the cut.

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Some clever shadow lighting was employed for the song "Copy of A," which was a single released from 2013 album Hesitation Marks.

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Another Broken gem "Gave Up" was rolled out to the enthusiastic audience.

Taking a moment to pay tribute to his friend and collaborator David Bowie, Reznor and the band launched into a note perfect cover of Bowie's own condemnation of misguided thinking "I'm Afraid of Americans."

Following that with another cover, Joy Division's "Digital."

Along with 2005 album With Teeth track "The Hand That Feeds."

The big pre-encore show closer was arguably (and not surprisingly) their most recognizable song "Head Like A Hole."  One of the most scorching rebukes of "money worship," a universal anger boils over at this "god" and it's relentless dominance for all the wrong reasons. "God money's not looking for the cure. God money's not concerned with the sick among the pure. God money let's go dancing on the backs of the bruised. God money's not one to choose.  No you can't take it No you can't take it No you can't take that away from me!"  All who refuse to accept this way of life defiantly choose another path while condemning those who willingly accept it. "Head like a hole. Black as your soul. I'd rather die than give you control. Bow down before the one you serve. You're going to get what you deserve."

Check out fellow attendee Andrew's capture of this incredible performance (listen to the crowd sing along) combined with the previously played "The Hand That Feeds"

Coming back to do the expected encore, they played "All The Love in the World," "Over and Out" and a dramatic, spotlight rendition of the much beloved "Hurt."

Post show revelry and the shared experiences with friends are the best reasons to do anything.

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