After a long wait the security personnel at Zenith De Paris finally began to let in the pre-ticket holders. I think the system could have been improved in about 10 ways to speed it up, but well, we got inside the fences of the Zenith complex just to line up in a new queue. After a while we had to listen to a very ridiculous American chief security guy who told us how to behave and more specifically how not to behave when we were let inside the building.
Once inside the concert building, we learned that it was a venue capable of appx. 2000 persons and we also learned that there was no inner-pit and it was incredibly hot in there. We judged that no matter how far back we'd finally end up when the concert started the view would still be excellent, so really no need to go for the first rows and risk sweating to death from dehydration. We opted for the merchandize stand and some cold beer instead. We learned that the beer and merchandize prices are just as high in France as they are in Denmark. Good to know that people are ripped off equally everywhere.
Danish band Mew supported NIN for this gig and they were treated with a horrible and unfair sound. They played a decent show and some of the music was actually quite okay. Their problem is that the lead singer sounds like a choirboy. During Mew we had made our way further into the crowd and the heat. Mew played for about 45 minutes.
When the clock hit 20:50, Trent and his band entered the stage to massive applause and began a 1h45 gig that would go on without a single break. The venue looked filled at that point as in a sold out gig. We - the crowd - were in for an awesome show. After the awful sound during Mew things changed completely sound wise. The sound was very good and very loud without being too loud (if that is possible). The stage design was rather simple as is often the case with NIN, lots of strobe lights and flashing neon effects. The low hanging spots over the band must have created an insane heat on stage, but it never slowed down Trent and his boys.
Trent Reznor is obviously in a much better mood than he used to be, and he talked quite a lot and seemed genuinely pleased with everything. That said, he is still an aggressive performer with an intensity that is very much outstanding and something most other performers can only dream of. He makes the whole show hit you in the face - sucking you into it - and you forget about the insane heat and all the sweat and just love being there.
Highlight of the gig was definitely when drummer Ilan Rubin was treated with a special birthday gift for his 21 years birthday this very evening. Trent did a little speech about remembering very little and waking up with your pants on backwards. Then started some rap playback and in came two strippers and buried the "poor" drummer in their tits. After that they smashed a large birthday cake in his hair leaving him buried in cream. I simply laughed my ass off. A few seconds later the next song started and amazingly enough the boy just hit the drums without missing a beat. He just shook off the worst of the cream. This is rock'n'roll humor. Fucking awesome!
As a matter of fact they didn't launch into just any song after the cake incident. They launched into the old Adam And The Ants hit Physical(you're so) in an excellent version with tons of heavy rock sound. A sure highlight for me! Other highlights would be Bowie's I'm Afraid Of Americans and obvious insane crowd pleasers like Heresy, March Of The Pigs, Gave Up, Wish, Survivalism, Hurt. Also there were several The Fragile songs in the setlist and they've made me appreciate that album more. I didn't like The Fragile that much before, but I think that may be about to change.
The Paris crowd was excellent and very much into it, singing along and paying the man the respect he deserves for creating some of the best and most intense electronic music ever. The band - consisting of Trent Reznor, Ilan Rubin, Robin Finck, Justin Meldal-Johnsen - is totally tight and makes this Wave Goodbye tour an absolute must-see. After seeing the show at Roskilde Festival and this one in Paris I guess I'll have to learn to live with the fact that Trent sounds pretty determined to call this the end of touring with NIN.
If I compare the Roskilde Festival gig to the Zenith De Paris gig then the Paris gig wins. It is somewhat easier to create real intensity in a smaller venue and the Orange Stage at Roskilde is HUGE. Some of the instrumental parts felt rather long at Roskilde between 01 and 03 at night, something they didn't in Paris where they blended in perfectly. Roskilde would have benefited from a shorter set with only kickass songs in it, something that wasn't the case in Paris. In Paris everything felt exactly right. So Roskilde will end up at a 5/6 rating compared to the 6/6 rating for the Paris gig.
Trent has promised to keep on making records but he won't be playing live again. If it really happens to end with this tour, I'm glad to remember NIN live from these two gigs. It's a worthy goodbye that couldn't have been much better. Trent will be remembered as a superior live performer and he will forever have my deepest respect! Awesome Nine Inch Nails!
Setlist - Zenith De Paris - 2009-07-07:
Somewhat Damaged, Terrible Lie, Heresy, March of the Pigs, Reptile, The Becoming, I'm Afraid Of Americans (David Bowie cover), Burn, Gave Up, La Mer, The Fragile, Non-Entity, Gone Still, The Way Out Is Through, Wish, Survivalism, Physical(You're So) (Adam And The Ants cover), The Day The World Went Away, Hurt, The Hand That Feeds, Head Like A Hole.
Setlist - Roskilde Festival - 2009-07-03:
Somewhat Damaged, Terrible Lie, Heresy, March of the Pigs, Piggy, Metal (Gary Numan cover), The Becoming, I'm Afraid of Americans (David Bowie cover), Burn, Gave Up, La Mer, The Fragile, Non-Entity, The Way Out Is Through, Wish, Survivalism, Suck, The Day the World Went Away, Hurt, The Hand That Feeds, Head Like a Hole.