Nine Inch Nails & Jane’s Addiction live at Jones Beach, June 7, 2009

 

STREET SWEEPER SOCIAL CLUB

Street Sweep­er Social Club, the new band formed by Rage Against the Machine gui­tarist Tom Morel­lo, opened. Their badass cov­er of M.I.A.‘s “Paper Planes” was a high­light.

Nine Inch Nails live at Jones Beach New York

NINE INCH NAILS

It felt wrong some­how to see a band as moody and dark as Nine Inch Nails play while the sun was still up. But clouds soon moved in, obscur­ing a sun­set that would have been impres­sive over the water, mak­ing every­thing suit­ably gloomy and very, very cold as NIN chased sum­mer away. This stripped-down four-piece ver­sion of the band played a great cov­er of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Amer­i­cans,” the best song Nine Inch Nails could have but nev­er wrote, and end­ed with the over­whelm­ing­ly sad “Hurt.” Sur­pris­ing­ly omit­ted was “Clos­er,” what I would assume to be a req­ui­site entry in any NIN set list (but the end theme did fea­ture in a short instru­men­tal jam). Speak­ing of, said jam was one of only two instru­men­tal por­tions of the set (the oth­er being The Fragile’s ambi­ent inter­lude “The Frail”). A lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing, giv­en that Trent Reznor has been becom­ing more and more musi­cal­ly exper­i­men­tal and adven­tur­ous of late, with whole chunks of The Frag­ile and the entire­ty of the mas­sive two-disc Ghosts being instru­men­tal. Per­son­al­ly, when it comes to Nine Inch Nails, the music (not so much the gloomy lyrics) is where the action is for me.

Nine Inch Nails live at Jones Beach New York

JANE’S ADDICTION

All thanks to Reznor for play­ing peace­keep­er in reunit­ing the noto­ri­ous­ly frac­tious and unsta­ble Jane’s Addic­tion, at least for the length of the NIN/JA tour. Basi­cal­ly a funk/prog/metal pow­er-trio front­ed by the antics of Per­ry Far­rell, a… unique indi­vid­ual whose ego (he once re-released a raft of Jane’s Addic­tion songs under just his own name on a solo great­est hits album) has often cre­at­ed con­flict with bassist Eric Avery. The full moon peek­ing out from the clouds prob­a­bly only added to Farrell’s luna­cy. They opened with their mag­num opus “Three Days,” an epic fea­tur­ing more dis­crete gui­tar solos by Dave Navar­ro than I could count. Hon­est­ly, where do you go from there? They kept find­ing high points to hit, how­ev­er, includ­ing “Ocean Size” and the clos­er (what else?) “Jane Says.” It only took a few songs for the age­less Navarro’s vest to dis­ap­pear (he must have one heck of a per­son­al train­er, not to men­tion a chest hair wax­er), and Perry’s shirt fol­lowed short­ly there­after.

Jane's Addiction live at Jones Beach New York

THE FUTURE

Reznor has made vague nois­es about Nine Inch Nails com­ing to some kind of end fol­low­ing this tour. It remains to be seen whether he means retir­ing the name in favor of solo work, start­ing a new band, or sim­ply ceas­ing to tour for a while. He’s report­ed­ly been clean & sober for some time now, and engaged to be mar­ried, so more pow­er to him. If he retreats now, he’d be going out on a high note. I hope the orig­i­nal line­up of Jane’s Addic­tion man­ages to keep it togeth­er to con­tin­ue work­ing in some form or anoth­er. With only two stu­dio albums to their cred­it (I’m not count­ing the awful Strays, writ­ten & record­ed with­out Avery’s inim­itable bass), the world needs some new songs from them.

GETTING THERE AND BACK

I had a lit­tle unex­pect­ed adven­ture on the long trip from Man­hat­tan all the way out to Jones Beach. Met a few fans on the Long Island Rail­road as we debat­ed the var­i­ous ways of get­ting there, all of which suck. Thanks to Kim & friend for the impromp­tu car ride to the venue! But I didn’t have the same luck on the way back, an ordeal that includ­ed wait­ing a full hour for a LIRR train to arrive. Pic­ture dozens of hun­gry fans, shiv­er­ing atop an ele­vat­ed plat­form in the mid­dle of nowhere.

Jane's Addiction live at Jones Beach New York

THE VENUE

Blech. Sur­round­ed on three sides by water, Jones Beach sounds nice in the­o­ry, but in per­son it’s cold. Nev­er mind if you’re going to a show there dur­ing the sum­mer; dress warm­ly. Also, for a music lover used to all kinds of venues in Man­hat­tan and Brook­lyn, it’s in the mid­dle of nowhere, with no food or water for lit­er­al­ly miles. The exor­bi­tant con­ces­sion prices are, let’s be hon­est here, graft. Just to keep from dehy­drat­ing and get­ting a migraine from all the sec­ond-hand pot smoke, I reluc­tant­ly paid $6.50 for a bot­tled water, which I cer­tain­ly hope the venue recy­cled. Also, the sound sys­tem is kin­da crap­py. Jane’s were notice­ably loud­er than NIN, but Farrell’s mike sound­ed pret­ty muf­fled, espe­cial­ly on the first and last songs.

THE AUDIENCE

The audi­ence was a weird mix­ture of goths, met­al­heads, and gray­ing thir­tysome­things like me. Although NIN has remained extreme­ly rel­e­vant for some time now, the orig­i­nal Jane’s line­up has been out of action for more than a decade, and both bands date back to the late 80s / ear­ly 1990s, when I was in high school. The black-fin­ger­nailed lon­ers didn’t sur­prise me, but I didn’t real­ly expect so many head­bangers. I even saw a mid­dle-aged, beard­ed, fat dude in a skirt, a look I thought fiz­zled on arrival in the mid-90s. In ret­ro­spect, I shouldn’t real­ly have been sur­prised, but I come at Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addic­tion from a dif­fer­ent angle. Lis­ten­ing to NIN is an exten­sion of my appre­ci­a­tion for elec­tron­ic and pro­gres­sive rock, and Jane’s vis­cer­al­ly filthy, slight­ly sleazy rock owes more than a lit­tle to Led Zep­pelin (who were also arguably a bit prog).


Offi­cial band sites: www.nin.com and www.janesaddiction.com

Buy The Slip, Nine Inch Nails’ lat­est album, and the new Jane’s Addic­tion rar­i­ties boxed set A Cab­i­net of Curiosi­ties from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.