Here is a piece I wrote for Randomville that did not get published because competing sites had already published similar articles.
5/14/09- The NINJA Tour came through Albuquerque this evening on a beautiful night in the desert. The weather was in the low 60s and stayed there through the remainder of the show which I, and the rest of the crowd were very happy about.
I arrived there a little late but got there just as the first band, Street Sweeper Social Club, began to perform. Street Sweeper Social Club is Tom Morello’s new band and they set the bar high for the night with their energy and enthusiasm. You really couldn’t ask for a better opening band. A lot of people are already beginning to talk about how the band is “not as good as Rage Against the Machine”. Who the hell cares? Their lead singer, Boots Riley, might not have the fire of De La Rocha but what he lacks in passion he makes up for in charisma. He was great to the crowd and it was great to see him dancing, and sometimes rolling around the stage. A few songs into their set, they covered “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. and replaced the gunshots on the chorus with distorted guitars and the sound of the cash register with harmonics. It was a great cover. At the end of their set, they offered a chance for a fan to come back stage and meet them by texting “Street” to a number that they then provided. I texted them but was not chosen. I guess you can’t have everything. But it’s not a problem because I greatly enjoyed their set and began to think that they just might steal the show from the two remaining bands. How wrong I was.
I need to take a moment here to applaud the stage crew that worked at Journal Pavilion in Albuquerque because they were hands down the best crew at a concert I’ve ever seen, which is saying a lot. It was only a mere 20 minutes before Nine Inch Nails took the stage and they must have felt the energy from Street Sweeper Social Club because they came out fierce and explosive. On the opening song, a riotous version of “Somewhat Damaged”, Trent Reznor and company did everything they could to trash the stage from throwing mic stands and guitars all over the place. It was great to see. There was no slowing down either. Throughout their 20-plus song set, they never once played a song that you could label as “quiet” or “slow”. Towards the end of their set, they played “Head Like A Hole” and it was wonderful to hear thousands of people scream “I’d rather die than give you control”. Before their closing song, Reznor began to talk about how it was great that so many fans had stuck with the band over the years and that after this current tour the band was going to take an “extended break”. I don’t know what to make of that statement but if this tour is the last the band ever plays, then they must be determined to go out with a bang. I can honestly say that it was the most explosive set I’ve ever seen.
Once they finished, it was only another 20 minutes (seriously, this is unprecedented) before Jane’s Addiction came out. Before they began to play, they showed a clip from the movie, The River Wild, where Kevin Bacon talks to a kid about Jane’s Addiction and the kid remarks, “Wish I could’ve seen them before they broke up”. Perry Farrell and crew came out and Perry Farrell yelled, “Good evening, Santa Fe!” Oops. However, the crowd didn’t mind and Farrell apologized later on in the show. Although people have always thought Farrell to be odd and eccentric, the one thing that I’ve always admired about him is his happiness and enthusiasm, as he’s always smiling and dancing around with the crowd. Halfway through the set, they played “Been Caught Stealing” and a fan jumped on stage and began to slowly dance around Farrell. Farrell yelled, “You better bring it if you’re gonna be up here” and danced around with the man for awhile before security shooed him offstage. The band hasn’t lost any speed, as all the members of the band have seemed to improve at their instruments. It’s still amazing to watch Dave Navarro, Eric Avery and Stephen Perkins play as they’re all virtuosos at their instruments. The highlight for me though, was when they played “Mountain Song” which got a big reaction from the crowd. I think a lot of us were waiting for that one.
All in all, it was an amazing show and it has set the bar high for the rest of the summer. If the NINJA tour is coming through your town, do yourself a favor and go see it. You might not get another chance to see anything like it again.