Sunday night The Molson Ampitheatre witnessed a rock concert double-bill twenty years in the making…Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden! Flashback to March 8th, 1994 and not only is NIN’sThe Downward Spiral released into the world, but so is Soundgarden’s Superunknown. Think about it: the two seminal records from both bands released on the same day! With new albums to push, plans were set in motion for a joint tour due to take place later that year, only to have it fall apart when Chris Cornell was struck down by a vocal cord injury, but good things come to those who wait…and boy was it worth the wait!

Soundgarden is on the road in support of Superunkown’s twentieth anniversary rerelease, and as a result their set leaned on that album’s material, but not to the exclusion of the rest of their stellar catalogue. Unfortunately, drummer extraordinaire, Matt Cameron is already on the road with his other gig as Pearl Jam’s timekeeper, but the band took great pains to bring in Matt Chamberlain, who ironically enough, was Pearl Jam’s original drummer.

Perennial show opener “Searching With My Good Eye Closed” got things started on just the right raucous foot, when the massive curtain shielding the stage fell away to reveal the Seattle four piece and their impressive video screen wall. The mood was pitch perfect with Kim Thayil’s nasty riffs seemingly summoning the dark clouds that were rapidly surrounding the Amphitheatre’s borders.

The band came back to Superunknown often, with selections ranging from “Spoonman” and “My Wave”to “Black Hole Sun” and “Superunknown”. Aside from the aforementioned album, the set included “Rusty Cage”, “Jesus Christ Pose” and “Outshined” from Badmotorfinger, as well as Ultramega OK’s stunning “Beyond The Wheel” as the set closer.

As they did on the “Tension” Tour that passed through the ACC back in September of 2013, Trent Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails put on yet another visual and audio spectacle. Reznor was a solitary figure when he took to the stage and proceeded to program his synthesizer to the beat of “Copy of A”. Again, just like that previous show, the remaining Nails came on stage, one by one, with each playing in front of a screen that illuminated their silhouette. 

The first half of their set was loaded with furious takes of “1 000 000”, “March of the Pigs”, “Terrible Lie” and “Closer”, while the latter half played at a more even pace with tracks like “The Great Destroyer” and “Eraser”.

Never one to stand still, Reznor’s stage show was an ever-changing animal with numerous lighting and video monitor configurations, and even the band was making numerous instrument trades.

As should be expected, NIN closed their set with the fan friendly double-bill of “Head Like a Hole” and “Hurt”, and with Reznor’s admission earlier in the week that “these would be their last shows for a long time”, it was a fitting way to remember them in their live context.

- Johnny Hooper