In Philly for the Greatest Show Ever

Rittenhouse Square pigeon

Originally uploaded by etacar11

Ok, the pigeon is just a random photo I took in Rittenhouse Square. I didn’t smuggle a camera into the Nine Inch Nails show at Wachovia Center. I should have; the security chick barely glanced in my bag. On the other hand, fiddling with a camera might have detracted from my enjoyment of the concert.  If and when the band posts some shots of the show on their Flickr page, I will post one here.

The day didn’t have an auspicious start: Rob’s car wouldn’t start (we later found out that he had been given the wrong type of battery two weeks prior) so we were delayed in getting to the train station.  Then we got caught in a massive traffic jam on I-95.  We were forced to call Amtrak and change our tickets to the next train.  No way we would have made our original one.  But once on the train everything went smoothly and we got to Philadelphia around 10am.

We bummed around for the afternoon, walked over to Rittenhouse Square and down to the Schuylkill River.  It was drizzly and not that nice a day but whatever.  I didn’t care!

The Wachovia Center was an easy shot down the Broad St. subway line.  Our seats turned out to be great, five rows up from the floor of the arena, on the left side of the stage.  It took a while for the place to fill up, but I think it was pretty near capacity by the time NIN came on.  I was pleasantly surprised (and I think the feeling was shared by many there) by the opening band, a bunch of trippy English dudes called Does It Offend You, Yeah?  I didn’t expect much from them, but they turned out to be pretty cool and worthy of a closer look.

I had only seen Nine Inch Nails live once prior, in 1994 at the Universal Amphitheater in LA.  I was in college at the time and NIN had just broken big with the Downward Spiral album.  During the Fragility tour in 2000, I was living in Hawaii and few bands ever play over there.  NIN wasn’t one of the few.  In 2005, I was living in New York City when they played two shows there.  I tried to get tickets for both and failed each time.  That left me quite angry and resentful.  But I’m over that now…

The show we saw last Friday night, the show Nine Inch Nails is playing every night on the Lights in the Sky tour, is simply the greatest show ever.  Ok, maybe I exaggerate but it’s definitely the best show I’ve ever seen, hands down.  The music itself was amazing enough.  And it would have been a great show with just that.  It was the lightshow that really made the night.  What they did is really hard to describe, mainly because I don’t know how any of it works.  But I can say there were at times screens in front of and behind the band.  Sometimes opaque, sometimes transparent.  Lots and lots of stuff going on throughout the show.  Damn, words just fail to convey how cool it was.  Trent Reznor sounded amazing.  You’d never know he’s had some throat/voice issues on this tour that led to the postponement of two earlier shows.  His speaking voice did sound a little off, that was the only hint.  Did I mention he had the magical power to control what the screens were showing, just with touch?  AWESOME.

Anyway, two hours of visual coolness and lots of great songs from the NIN catalog.  I hated to see it end.  Now I’m trying to figure out how to see it again.  There’s no DC date on the upcoming Fall leg of the tour.  The closest is in Charlottesville, VA.  A little farther than I am willing to drive but maybe (fingers crossed) a DC date will be announced later.  Please, please, please!

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