Ever since Trent Reznor and his band made a mud-drenched splash as Woodstock 1994, almost all music fans have known that Nine Inch Nails put on a fantastic live show. NIN’s first live disc (which was recorded on the “Fragility: 2.0 Tour”) proves that their live songs make their original, studio versions sound tame and controlled. “And All That Could Have Been” is about as intense and full of vitriol as industrial metal gets. And, from the opening wallop of “Terrible Lies” to the dark, introspective “Hurt,” which closes out the album, every song is a hit.
The crowd is only rarely audible, and they know when to shut up (like during the ballads), so the audience noise never gets in the way of the music.
Tracks like “Terrible Lies,” “Head Like A Whole” (both singles from NIN’s 1989 debut, “Pretty Hate Machine”) and “Starfers, Inc.” pack a powerful, cathartic, adrenalized punch. Plus, these songs sound even louder and crisper, here, than in the studio. Elsewhere, electronic frenzied, techno-lite cuts like “Sin” and “March Of The Pigs” are heavy on new-wave keyboards, and “Piggy,” “The Frail” (a piano interlude), and “The Great Below” are very slow and ambient. Songs like “Suck” and “Closer” bring the best of both worlds; these songs have a stomping rhythm section married with synths and other atmospheric instruments. And, lastly, the ballads (“The Day The World Went Away” and “Hurt”) are very touching and beautiful.
So, this album *IS* all that it could have been, and more. It’s no less than great, and it’s as close to being perfect as live albums get nowadays.