By Stewart Heys Feb.26.2009
In: Concerts

Even a blackout can't stop the march of this pig

We have POWER

You don’t get many people going to Nine Inch Nails gigs that are ‘kind of in to them’, or that have picked up a spare ticket from a mate at the last minute so pop along just to see what all the fuss is about. In many people’s eyes (including my own) Trent doesn’t put a foot wrong, not just when producing and performing but also in taking a stance against the traditional music industry and its inflexible distribution model.

Maybe this is why a power outage right in the middle of the set passed with barely a murmur. Well, I say barely a murmur, but it could hardly have felt like that to the security and venue staff while they were trying to find the wire that had come loose. If the rumours are true, I am sure that the pit entertaining itself with an improvised performance of Bohemian Rhapsody would have reassured them that everything was alright. Right?

Even so, 40 minutes was a long time, especially when you have a juice-less bar. The crowd was frantic, having been smacked in the ears early by ‘Wish’ and ‘March of the Pigs’, but was all of a sudden walking around in the glare of the emergency lights, squinting like naked mole rats emerging from a six month hibernation. Trent used a megaphone to let us know he would be back as soon as he had kicked some jobsworth’s ass backstage (at least I think that’s what he said), and then we were left waiting.

If we were in a cartoon, we would have seen multiple questions marks appearing above the crowd at this point. Are they coming back on? Will we get our money back if they don’t? Was that 16 Ghosts II or 34 Ghosts IV they started with?

Eventually the power came back on, the lights went off (ooh, the irony) and a roadie got a huge cheer for confirming the band’s imminent return with a ‘Check’ to the mic. Trent got a bigger cheer than the roadie by assuring us that despite the hold up they would not play for ‘one second less’ and once they kicked off ’round 2′ with 1,000,000 it was like they had never left the stage.

New(-ish) tracks Survivalism and Letting You stacked up well against Downward Spiral-era tracks such as Reptile, and they finished off a perfectly-paced performance with Head Like a Hole which hasn’t lost any of its power in the 20 years since we first heard it.

Skip to the morning after. Spongy-eared and fuzzy-brained I made it on to the tubes to find a video of the power outage incident doing the rounds on Twitter (thanks to awesome work by @rob_sheridan). A high quality video which takes us back stage where they are scurrying around trying to get everything working again and avert a crisis of unimaginable proportion.

I was more than impressed with seeing scenes of the event the day after it took place, especially as it allowed us to see paternal-Trent reassuring the worried-looking new drummer that it was just a normal day at the office.

We even got some bonus footage of Trent re-arranging the set, moving a song from the main set up, but leaving the encore as is.

Wait a minute. Encore? But they didn’t…*gasp*

Four songs got cut. Making the (safe) assumption that this was because of the power failure, it raises a question. Did our hero bow down to something as trivial as a curfew? If anyone came just to hear ‘Hurt’ would they feel ripped off?

At nearly 2 hours of such high-intensity noise I have no complaints about the encore-that-wasn’t, in fact I have never liked the will-they-won’t-they self-indulgence at the end of gigs. I just wonder if everyone else feels the same.