Review: QoTSA and NIN

NEW AGE: "The goal is never to make a record and it gets huge - and then to sit by the pool and get an amazing tan," says Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme.
NEW AGE: "The goal is never to make a record and it gets huge - and then to sit by the pool and get an amazing tan," says Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme.

Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age
TSB Arena, March 20

Sometimes it is all about expectations. When bands are on a double bill it's most likely that you love one band madly and accept the other.

There was never any doubt that rock juggernauts Queens of the Stone Age and industrial assailants Nine Inch Nails would set the night on fire and leave the audience in the pretty packed TSB Arena stumble into the dark with the onset of tinnitus.

Their respective frontmen Trent Reznor and Josh Homme have 15 studio albums between them and countless live shows over 25 years for NIN and almost two decades for QotSA.

Being a proper double header, Reznor and Homme agreed to toss a coin each night as to who would open and who would close the combined three hour set.

Being a QoTSA fan myself, their latest albums Like Clockwork... having been one of my favourite's of 2014, I was hoping for NIN to start the night, to sort of get over with it so I could bathe in the QoTSA vibe for the rest of the night.

But the coin decided differently. Shortly before 8pm Homme and his men hit the stage, warming the crowd up with a couple of songs from their excellent 2002 album Songs For the Deaf, including crowd pleaser No One Knows before breaking into Like Clockwork...standout My God Is the Sun.

In the background flicker artworks from their albums, some looking like fire devils, some like Rorschach tests.

Maybe it's because they have been on the road for a while, maybe it's just his style, but there's not much audience interaction going on and Homme's long legs are mostly planted at one point.

The set is tight, with about five songs of the new albums and some picked cherries from the older ones but the sound in the TSB arena like so often is missing a crispness and vocals and bass is pretty muffled. Especially in the higher ranks.

I can't really point my finger as to why, but somehow the performance did leave me a bit underwhelmed. Not because QoTSA didn't deliver, most likely more because I expected to be blown away too much.

After a 30-or-so minute break it was time for Reznor to let rip. Nine Inch Nails were never really my cup of tea. I always kind of appreciated them but I don't think I ever listened to a whole album.

NIN, are maybe less art, less cool than QoTSA, but theirs is a full on assault on the senses. In his trade mark position, hugging the microphone with both muscular arms, defying the fact that he's turning 50 next year, Raznor's stage presence is undeniable.

The light show takes the whole show to another level. It was like time travelling through the 25 years of NIN history (and I'm not even trying to pretend that I knew all the songs).


The bass is pummeling and throbbing, the adoring audience is basking in the light show and adoring Raznor's every move. Although his interactions are also quite limited the audience is ecstatic as he is clearly giving his all.

Almost one and a half hours later he finishes with Hurt, the great track made even more popular by Johnny Cash, the audience stumbles in the dark.

A little bit deaf, pretty sweaty and dazed by this beautiful assault.  

I might not head to the next record shop and buy the NIN back catalogue but this performance blew me away.