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Malta Festival, Poznan, Poland
23rd June 2009
Nine Inch Nails, Alex Empire

“Why have we waited so long to come here?” - that was the question Trent Reznor asked the audience at some point during the concert of NINE INCH NAILS that took place on the 23rd June in Poznan. Yes, plenty of people gathered to see the legends of the industrial scene were surely asking the same question, but the most important thing was they finally managed to appear and play the best concert ever!

The band had been active for over 20 years, but it was the first time they visited Poland, so no wonder the expectations were high and the crowd by the bars separating the audience from the stage - thick and excited. The concerts of NINE INCH NAILS and the support ALEC EMPIRE (accompanied on stage by Nic Endo) stood for one of the opening parts of the 19th edition Malta Festival, the event of “various arts” -  experimental, “off” performances, films, theatres, concerts, shows and the like, which has been organized in Poznan since 1991.

Alec Empire

The first artist to perform at the Festival was Alec Empire, a German musician who is best known as a founding member of the band Atari Teenage Riot. Also a prolific and distinguished solo artist, producer and DJ, he has released well over a hundred albums, EPs and singles and remixed over seventy tracks for artists popular and relatively unknown alike. He was also the driving force behind the creation of the digital hardcore subgenre and the record labels Digital Hardcore Recordings and Eat Your Heart Out. (Source: /

Music & Performance
Those who came up to listen to ALEC EMPIRE’s gig could be briefly divided into two groups: those who were familiar with ATARI TEENAGE RIOT and those who weren’t; in other words into those who knew what to expect (and - if sensitive - brought ear plugs / anti-laser glasses / tranquilizers) and those who didn’t. It’s definitely a specific kind of music that not every soul will stand, but it’s hard to deny it a powerful force of influencing a listener (even if the only feeling it evoked was shock or the irresistible urge to run away). A combination of noisy, irregular, uncontrollable, highly distorted passages overwhelming with intensity, loudness, dynamism and smashing energy were as impressive as scary: after all not everyone is able to stand a face to face (or, should I say, sound-to-ear) meeting with a rampant sonic tank that attacks all senses in a merciless and relentless manner.

Mad, anxious, ear-hurting welter, scream-like vocal, abundance of samples and a mixture of various sounds creating  an impression of a hard class war film soundtrack  were shocking, but at the same catchy, danceable and captivating - just like the best aggressive and yet addictive melodic prison. What I’d most like to say would be “woah, that was a tough ride, let’s take it again” and I’m sure many of those who participated in the music feast Alec and Nic Endo prepared reacted the same way. The charisma and energy of the vocalist were stunning indeed: he didn’t stop for even a moment and encouraged the audience to follow him in his show frenzy (I think his words “c’mon, don’t give up” were more than appropriate at some point so exhausting the dances in the crowd were). Though the show began during the day, after some time it became darker so the lights could prove the validity of the warning we had been given before the concerts started (“the lights may be dangerous for the people suffering from epilepsy”).

Alec’s contact with the audience was fine as well: throughout the whole concert he encouraged the fans to make noise (as if it hadn’t been loud already) and to participate in the show to the fullest. Additionally, just before the last song (‘Revolution Action’) he told a story of his grandfather (Polish nationality) who got killed by the Nazis during the World War II. That was quite a serious closing accent of the overly marvellous and energetic performance. All in all it was a great sonic destruction and I’m sure the fans enjoyed both the show and the music presented.

01. Intro
02. The Ride
03. If You Live or Die
04. New Man / Everything starts with a fuck
05. On Fire
06. Control Drug
07. Addicted To You
08. No Remorse
09. Destroy 2000 Years of Culture
10. Revolution Action

Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 10
Light - (daylight)
Total: 10

Nine Inch Nails

The headliner was NINE INCH NAILS, an American industrial music group, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of NIN and remains solely responsible for its direction. NIN's music straddles a wide range of genres, while retaining a characteristic sound using electronic instruments and processing. After recording a new album, Reznor usually assembles a live band to perform with him. The touring band features a revolving line-up that often rearranges songs to fit a live setting. On stage, NIN often employs spectacular visual elements to accompany performances, which frequently include mesmerizing light shows. (Source: /

Music & Performance
As the time of the concert was coming closer, the crowd was thickening and the feeling of anticipation was arising. It was as visible as audible: the applauding, scanning and calls “Nine Inch Nails” were growingly intensive. While it was slowly getting darker and the wind was becoming stronger the atmosphere came to be perfect for such a long-awaited concert. When the band finally appeared on the stage, the lights, the sound and the throats of the fans could eventually show the best they had: the impact was smashing.

Powerful music and the setting were enough to move anyone to the core, or even to give shivers from head to toe; quite an extraordinary experience. NIN served all the best we could’ve expected: unbelievable vocal, smoking guitars and gentle piano sounds, cold electronic and hell-hot drums, absolutely ravishing melodies, wildly weltering passages and lyrical, meditative pieces, spectacle of lights and the experience of watching the faves in a great condition. The most beautiful moments were during ‘Hurt’, ‘Fragile’ and ‘La Mer’ - the combination of fantastic lights and the fragility of the atmosphere that overtook the audience was absolutely incredible. The similar magic, though of a different, energetic kind, was created by the songs from the dynamic pigeonhole: ‘Head like a Hole’ or ‘Mr Selfdestruct’.

Trent Reznor also presented some songs he created in collaboration with other artists such as David Bowie and Saul Williams in ‘Afraid of Americans’ and ‘Banged and Blown Through’ respectively. All of them were magnificently presented, all of them evoked enthusiasm - the reactions of the audience exceeded the usual applause: the sea of hands, singing, applauding which, during the ballad pieces, reminded me of a slowly arising rain, the lights sparkling in the darkness and encore - all that stood for a beautiful atmosphere. In short: it was as if a sonic storm passed over our heads and the lightning hit straight into our hearts/brains/ears and last but least - eyes. Devilish party indeed and one may only hope it was not the last time NIN hosted it in Poland.

01. Home
02. Terrible Lie
03. Discipline
04. March of the Pigs
05. Metal (Gary Numan cover)
06. Reptile
07. The Becoming
08. Afraid of Americans (David Bowie)
09. Burn
10. Gave Up
11. La Mer
12. Fragile
13. Banged and Blown Through (Saul Williams)
14. Non-Entity
15. Gone, Still
16. Wish
17. The Way Out is Through
18. Mr Selfdestruct
19. Survivalism
20. The Hand That Feeds
21. Head like a Hole
22. Echoplex
23. The Good Soldier
24. Sanctified
25. Hurt

Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 10
Light: 10
Total: 10

All pictures by Bartosz Sarama (


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