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Seattle duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis held the penultimate spot on the Ritual Stage on Friday. They did not disappoint. Fans were thrilled because the band delivered exactly what was expected, a set of tight hip-hop. New Orleanians were also satiated when local hero Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews joined the group on stage for "Can't Hold Us."
Saturday, November 2
Saturday's headliner, Nine Inch Nails, and its front man Trent Reznor, are no strangers to either New Orleans or the Voodoo Experience. Reznor lived in New Orleans during the 1990s and early 2000s. He lived in the Garden District and built a recording studio on Magazine Street. After Hurricane Katrina, Reznor and Nine Inch Nails played the scaled down one-day version of Voodoo held near Audubon Zoo. In 2008, Reznor brought Nine Inch Nails to New Orleans to perform at the 10th Ritual. If Reznor's love for New Orleans wasn't obvious prior to this performance, he left nothing to the imagination when, during the band's set he announced, "I've experienced some difficult times in this city. I also found salvation in this city. New Orleans is my favorite city in the world."
Reznor's and Nine Inch Nails' performance at the 2013 festival was nothing short of stunning. A visually striking lightshow featuring depth-producing overheads and strobes in the background made the black-clad musicians stand out almost as much as the band's performance. Touring behind the Hesitation Marks release (Columbia Records, 2013), Nine Inch Nails delivered a two-and-one-half hour tour de force performance touching on every facet of the group's career (though about one-third of the performance was devoted to new songs).
Interestingly, Reznor and his cohorts played some of the hits in a slightly different manner. Though easily recognizable, these songs were given a slightly electro-funk and/or glam touch in their arrangements. Highlights of the main set included the opening number "Copy of A" (from Hesitation Marks, which called to mind Depeche Mode), "1,000,000" from The Slip (The Null Corporation, 2008), "Terrible Lie" and Sanctified" from Pretty Hate Machine (TVT Records, 1989) "March of The Pigs" and "Piggy" from The Downward Spiral (TVT/Nothing/Interscope Records, 1994), "Only" and "The Hand That Feeds" from With Teeth (Interscope Records, 2005), "The Frail" and "The Wretched" from The Fragile (Nothing Records, 1999) "Wish" from Broken (TVT/Nothing/Interscope Records, 1992) and the cover of David Bowie's "I'm Afraid Of Americans."
As one would expect, the main set ended with an amazing version of "Head Like A Hole" and the crowd went wild. With the crowd still buzzing from the closing number, Reznor and his band (which featured bassist Pino Robin Finck on guitar, multi-instrumentalist Joshua Eustis, Ilan Rubin on drums and backing vocalists Lisa Fischer and Charlotte Gibson) delivered an encore set of: "Reptile" (from The Downward Spiral) "Even Deeper," "In This Twilight" from Year Zero (Interscope Records, 2007), "While I'm Still Here" and "Black Noise" (from Hesitation Marks) and "Hurt." As always the simple, desperate, deeply intense, plaintive and emotional "Hurt" left the audience stunned until the explosion of noise and distortion signified the end of the evening.
Prior to Nine Inch Nails, Paramore's Hayley Williams used the Voodoo stage to announce once and for all that she is a force to be reckoned with. The woman is an electrifying performersome might even call her a rock goddess. She owned the Ritual Stage. Williams and her band definitely gained fans with the rocking high-energy show. If anyone in the audience wasn't sure what they were seeing, Williams, with her bright orange hair, skin-tight leather pants, belly shirt and black strip of make-up across her eyes, provided constant confirmation by announcing, "We are Paramore!" She also referred to the audience members who were seeing Paramore for the first time as "fresh meat."
Throughout the performance, Williams displayed unbridled energyskipping, bopping, bouncing, strutting and bopping across the Ritual Stage. She also showed that she can work a crowd. Her performance and the band's songs were infectious. Many members of the audience, who had gotten to the stage early in an effort to stake out a good spot to see Nine Inch Nails, were observed bopping and singing along with Williams. Highlights of the Tennessee-based band's set included: "Pressure," "Still Into You," the funky "It Ain't Fun," "Last Hope," "That's What You Get," "Fast In My Car" and the change-of-pace ballad, "The One Exception."
At the end of the performance, an obviously elated Williams smiled and triumphantly stated, "You came to see Nine Inch Nailsbut for the last hour, you've been at a Paramore show!" It may well serve as the calling card that opens the door to superstardom.