Nine Inch Nails at Red Rocks (Westword 9/20/2018)

photo by Adam Perry

Nine Inch Nails at Red Rocks
by Adam Perry for Denver Westword 9/20/2018

The Jesus and Mary Chain took the stage early at Red Rocks on September 19 as the sun sank and promoters stressed about severe storms. Tobacco, originally penciled in as one of two opening acts for Nine Inch Nails, had its set canceled so Trent Reznor and company could start and end before the expected rain.

The rain never came.

The Jesus and Mary Chain, loud and brash as ever, played a typically short 35-minute guitar-heavy set that peaked with a defiant “I Hate Rock ’n’ Roll” and a wall of feedback left in its wake.

By 8 p.m., Reznor – an athletic 53 years old, looking not a day over forty — and his band were already tearing through “Mr. Self Destruct,” a 1,000-mph industrial-metal song from NIN’s landmark 1994 album, The Downward Spiral. The black-and-white video feed on the Red Rocks big screen was a nice touch.

Now, 24 years after Nine Inch Nails reached its height of acclaim and commercial exposure with Downward — which boasts lyrics that appeared multiple times in the journal of one of the Columbine shooters — I found myself jotting down a timeless question: Is dark music medicine?

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