Nine Inch Nails & Cold Cave @ Manchester Phones 4 U Arena 25th May 2014

On arrival at the Phones 4 U Arena, it was not at all what I was expecting. Hailed as being the biggest indoor arena in Europe, the standing area is only a bit bigger than that of the Manchester Academy 1, and the seating areas on the sides are what makes up its 21,000 capacity.

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First up tonight was the band Cold Cave, who despite having had lots of contributors, is solely composed of vocalist Wesley Eisold, who due being born with one hand, has focused his musical abilities on electronic music.

For this tour he was accompanied by Amy Lee on the mixing table, who has been touring with him since Spring 2013.

After sitting on the venue’s floor for a while, staring at the empty stage with Cold Cave’s logo on it, which reminded me of the vegetarian society’s logo, finally at 8 o’clock Cold Cave walked on stage, said hello and instantly started their 8 song set.

The lights went down and images begin to be projected onto the stage, each relevant to the song that is playing. Starting with the song Underworld USA, and an American flag projected on to the stage, Wesley sets the mood for the rest of his act, a dark 80’s synth-pop mood that is.

The set carried on, the imaged kept changing, he danced around, flinging his fringe from side to side, but the crowd that night were just not ”feeling” his music at all, except for a handful of gay men who were absolutely loving it and jumping around non stop.

I think that due to the crowd being mainly closed minded metal heads, and Cold Cave being very 80’s darkwave Depeche Mode-esque, it was not a good combination, and even led to some people booing them at the end of the show, which I was quite horrified by, as I had never seen that before.

Moving on swiftly…

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Nine Inch Nails kicked off their set with the hypnotic Me I’m Not, coupled with a mystical backdrop and lights, which made them look like they were being beamed down from a space craft.

Following that up with the more upbeat Copy Of A, a song from their eighth studio album Hesitation Marks. Despite having a variety of new material from this album, they deliver all the fan favourites from previous albums such as Head Like a Hole, Hand That Feeds, Closer,March Of The Pigs

The tempo and the crowd get more up-beat as the set goes on, and at one point the backdrop falls away and reveals multi-instrumentalist Ilan Rubin really going for it on the drums.

Also on stage that night with vocalist Trent Reznor, were the side-burn clad former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Robin Finckand Italian multi-instrumentalist Alessandro Cortini on syths/keyboards and guitar.

The whole band demonstrated their versatility during the set, chopping and changing instruments with such fluidity and ease; and with the eerie light-show they had behind them, you couldn’t really keep track of who was playing what any more, so it was better to just let yourself be hypnotised by the spectacular multi-sensory show.

The backdrops ranged from simple videos to perfectly musically synced lights that formed a spinning 3D box around the band. Each song was perfectly complemented by a visual enhancer and the set was played to perfection.

The concert came to an end with the encore songs The Day The World Went Away and Hurt, after which, the band simply waved and then walked off stage; and I don’t blame them, as they played the whole concert non-stop, with no chatting to the audience between songs, and a mere 60 seconds rest between their last song and the beginning of their encore. Pretty hard-core if you ask me!

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