|Nine Inch Nails: Beside You in Time
Even though my editor, the sensational David Medsker, didn’t like 2005’s With Teeth, I did. (Flattery will get you everywhere – Ed.) In fact, I thought it was a very good record that got Trent Reznor back on track after the self indulgent The Fragile and the six years he kind of took off in between those two studio albums (NIN did release a live album and a song for the “Tomb Raider” movie). Because I like With Teeth and have quite a fondness for the older stuff, I absolutely enjoyed Beside You in Time, a concert DVD culled from two shows from the 2006 Winter Tour. Eight songs from With Teeth are intertwined with 11 tracks from the rest of the catalogue. Only “The Big Come Down” from The Fragile is included.
Reznor – who apparently has hit the weights and the buffet table – and his band look as if they are actually, dare I say, having a good time doling out isolation and gloom to the masses. Don’t get me wrong, he is not necessarily smiles and lollipops and his vocal delivery is as intense as ever, seemingly delivered from the depth of his scrotum. His stage presence amongst the lunacy around him is calm, confident and gives off the impression that his much-publicized demons are under control. Plenty of kinetic energy is expended throughout the performance; keyboardist Alessandro Cortini jumps around, and on, his equipment, while insane guitarist Aaron North is constantly in motion, in dire need of some Ritalin.
“Closer” absolutely pops, as does the melancholy of “Hurt.” It is pretty hard to listen to that song and not think of Johnny Cash. Reznor wrote it and does an excellent job of presenting it, especially as the entire band joins in for the climax, but the song will forever belong to the Man in Black. Drummer Josh Freese (the Vandals, Perfect Circle, Devo) is the absolute star and finds a perfect groove in between all the samples and chaos. His disco drum work on “The Hand That Feeds” is fantastic.The extras add to the value of the work. A chronological listing of all Nine Inch Nails material is included as is a five-song snippet from the 2006 Summer Tour. A very cool, visually stimulating video for “Only” (directed by none other than David Fincher) is my favorite extra. I know NIN has released two other live concert packages, and some of the material overlaps, but this one holds up well against the others.
~R. David Smola