Will you bite the hand that feeds?

10:30 in the morning and I was off on the tube to Whitechapel to visit The Royal London Museum.

The museum is tucked away down Newark Street behind, what appears to be the main hospital building. I went to see the exhibits they have about Joseph Merrick (the ‘Elephant Man’). I had bought the David Lynch film on DVD and knew that Mr. Merrick had spent the last years of his life at the hospital under the care of Frederick Treves. The museum itself is very small, much smaller that I thought it would be or could judge by the photographs on the website. The articles concerning Mr. Merrick are very interesting. Photographs, a log that recorded his arrival at the hospital and one of his hoods that appeared to be a large cap with a ‘veil’ which looked as if it was made from sack cloth. I’m not sure if it’s an original or a reproduction. There was a photograph of Joseph, the one with him in his Sunday best, but this was a reproduction. It was all very interesting but wasn’t going to use up the rest of the morning, so it was back on the tube to Westminster.

I wanted to see the Saatchi Gallery, which is located in County Hall. I had read the book by Damien Hirst and knew, from my visit to the Sensation exhibition years ago, that Charles Saatchi was an avid collector of his work. Having paid my £9 and looked around, I was a little disappointed. I had hoped that the gallery would contain pieces from Sensation as well as The Triumph Of Painting exhibition. Certainly not worth £9. I don’t think that there were any artists that I had heard of. No wonder there had to be people outside on the banks of the Thames trying to get people to pay them a visit.

It was then off to Regent Street and my favourite store in the land, the Apple Store. I only wanted a little dock for my iPod shuffle and thankfully that is all I left with. I could spend thousands in there: 30 inch monitors, dual processor Power Mac, Power Book, iPod photo, iSight camera. I could end up being very broke but very happy. One of these days I tell you, when my Uncle Ernie remembers where I live. The place was full of tourists checking their emails. Just about every available screen had some mail web page open in dozens of different languages.

Anyway, I was getting hungry so I bought some sandwiches and sushi and went back to the hotel for a nap.

London AstoriaLondon Astoria

I started queuing at the Astoria a little later than the previous night so I was about 10 feet further back. The same drunk was there, the same t-shirt sellers trying to convince us all that the t-shirts inside were being sold for £30’s. Thinking about it now the time seemed to fly by. But at the time is seemed like an age. I’m just not the most patient of people. Luckily the queue started to move nearer 6 o'clock than the previous night. Before you’re allowed in you have to be checked to ensure that you aren’t carrying any knives or anything. There was a chap there with a video camera filming people as we all walked in. I remembered, from the night before, that this same guy had been on the right-hand side of the stage filming the action. I only found out afterwards, from reading internet forums, that this was Rob Sheridan, the guy who helped Trent to piece together the And All That Could Have Been DVD. I also knew that he made the video for The Hand That Feeds. With any luck I could be on the next Nine Inch Nails DVD. Fat chance really considering that I look like a forty-something computer geek.

Once inside I wandered upstairs to the merchandise stall to buy a t-shirt.

After the previous nights fun and frolics I had toyed with the idea of watching the concert from upstairs. But it just didn’t seem right for some reason, so I headed back downstairs. A young french couple wanted me to take a picture of them on the stairs. And I thought I’d travelled along way to get to this concert.

I bought a can of Red Stripe and stood on the left side of the mixing desk. The amount of equipment in that small space was amazing. 15 inch Power Books, a LaCie hard disk drive, AirPort Express and LED digital counter. I can’t think what they were using the AirPort Express unit for. The digital counter was being used to synchronise video and audio I think. The actual mixing desk was a little further along in the centre of the booth, the chap at the desk behind me seemed to be working some of the lights. In fact the guy with the grey pony-tail and beard came down from the stage and stood next to me talking to the man at the desk. I managed to eves drop and heard that they had a problem with midi controllers or something. The man with the beard said that he had just finished doing the programming for the set and that he was going to grab a bite to eat. He walked back to the stage carrying a PCMCIA card. I don’t know which of them was the Rob Bennett that Trent mentioned on the web site. Rob had designed the lights for this tour as well as for ‘The Downward Spiral’ tour.

The music that was being played before the show seemed a little odd. At certain points it was music but then it changed to what sounded like a narrator, of some kind, with a very English accent, reading a medical book, listing symptoms. Very odd. I don’t know if this is specific to the Astoria or if it’s part of the Nine Inch Nails show.

The Dresden Dolls played and I think their music must have started to sink in. I have since bought the CD and like it quite a bit. There was one punk in the audience who seemed to be singing along to every word.

Set List
The Frail/The Wretched
You Know What You Are?
March Of The Pigs
The Line Begins To Blur
Piggy
Terrible Lie
Burn
Closer
Reptile
The Big Come Down
Gave Up
The Day The World Went Away
Suck
Even Deeper
Wish
Hurt
The Hand That Feeds
Starfuckers Inc
Head Like A Hole

Nine Inch Nails came on with Trent playing the keyboard parts to The Frail/The Wretched. This was a better move than the previous night as the crowd knew the tracks and became suitably pumped up straight away. I honestly can’t remember much more about it. I was singing my little heart out on the tracks that I knew and listened attentively to the songs that I didn’t. I was glad that I had chose this spot as it was up on a box so I had a good view of the crowd and the stage. I was thankful that I had a rail behind me as it did get really squashed as the gig went on.

The show ended, as it had the previous night, with Head Like A Hole. Everyone just went mental. When the band left the stage, and the lights went up, people still thought that there was going to be an encore.

I can honestly say that even if the Astoria looks a little like a flea pit from the outside the security people, and the staff generally, really know what they are doing. They were passing water out before and during the main event and anyone crowd surfing was quickly taken care of.

Even now I still can’t quite believe that I’ve seen Nine Inch Nails. I’ve been a fan since the Broken E.P. and have been a fanatical collector of their music since. Just about anything that bears Trent Reznors name. I can remember when I received the email from the mailing list, saying that the tickets were going to go on sale, that I had second thoughts.

I’ve read on internet forums after the show that people at the front, against the barrier, had actually seen Trent smiling. Alas, no photographic evidence of this exists.

Related Links
Concert photos by Flash Wilson