A foggy night in Vegas: Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction at the Pearl

Nine Inch Nails performs at Pearl at the Palms on Monday, May 18, 2009, followed by a set from Jane’s Addiction.

In December, Nine Inch Nails hauled a mammoth, interactive LED array to Las Vegas. On Monday, the band brought … fog. Tons of it. So much, in fact, that it set off a smoke detector inside the Pearl 30 minutes before show time, causing the house lights to come up, pre-concert music to halt and a recorded warning to begin repeating.

No matter. Once the stage crew resolved the issue and Trent Reznor & Co. took the stage around 8:30, the fog machine returned right to action, expelling thick billows of the stuff throughout the venue. This time, no interruption, however.

The fog paired with intense strobe lighting to create a supernatural atmosphere for much of the 90-minute set. Was it as unforgettable as NIN’s last live experience? Come on, how could it be? But the stripped-down surroundings were pretty darn cool in their own right.

A few other thoughts …

* Nine Inch Nails didn’t play “Closer.” My buddy sitting to my left had seen them seven times previously, and was sure he’d heard that song (you know, the one that goes, “I wanna fuck you like an animal/I wanna feel you from the inside”) seven times live. So that was odd. But hey, props to the band for not feeling beholden to any one tune. Then again, the set did end with “Head Like a Hole” and “Hurt,” so it’s not like they threw all their hits out the window.

* At December’s Planet Hollywood show, Reznor hinted that the band might call it quits soon. Monday night, he seemed to confirm it. “This is our last tour,” he said toward the end. “I appreciate you sticking around over the years.”

* “Headlining” Jane’s Addiction (reunited “classic” lineup: Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery and Stephen Perkins) had a tough enough act to follow coming on after Nine Inch Nails; a noticeable portion of the sold-out crowd didn’t bother to return after the break. Opening with a super-extended version of “Three Days” that included lengthy guitar and drum solos was hardly the best way to win over those who remained present—particularly since, without an instrument in hand, frontman Perry Farrell (no shirt, silver-sequined stretch pants) had little to do for much of the 15-minute jam, besides performing exaggerated robot dance moves. The remaining hour or so was far better. Highlights: “Then She Did,” “Mountain Song,” “Oceansize.”

* It’s tough for the final song to come as a surprise when steel drums get rolled onstage for it. Not that I’ll ever complain about hearing “Jane Says.” Few better rock songs to have in your head while searching for the car.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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