Sound — 9
Nine Inch Nails isn't about to let its latest DVD release Beside You In Time not be seen or heard with the most up-to-date technology. Considering the live concert release chronicling the band's 2006 Live: With Teeth tour features one of the sleekest stage shows from last year, it's pretty understandable that NIN would want to make sure that it was done justice. For those who are seeking out only the highest quality viewing experience, Beside You In Time will give that to you in the form of 3 different video formats, as well as a variety of audio selections. Will the various video formats be what most NIN fans are concerned about on the latest DVD? Probably not -- when it comes down to it, they're going to want to re-experience a live show as close to the real thing as possible. Beside You In Time, which includes about 25 songs from the 2006 tour, should fulfill most of these fans' expectations in full. After close to 20 years in the business, NIN still sounds (and looks, for that matter) as cutting edge as ever. More amazingly, vocalist Trent Reznor is one of the few frontmen out there who sounds as good in concert as he does on a CD. Before you get started with the opening number, be sure to check out the audio options. Regardless of what video format you get, you have the surround-sound option available, as well as DTS on DVD or Dolby TrueHD on HD DVD or Blu-ray. Once you get over that hi-tech hurdle, you're ready to watch the opener Love Is Not Enough, an energetic track that is only hindered by a sheer net in front of the band -- all part of the stage show concept. The net is removed before long, and then it's the lasers turn to take over for a couple songs. Once the lasers are finally toned down, you're finally able to see some of the classic facial expressions from Reznor that match the passion heard in the music. As predictable as this may seem, the 2 most memorable numbers are Closer and Hurt. These are such polar opposites that it really shows the band's ability to tackle different sounds. The DVD actually gives 2 different Closer performances to choose from, each showing a bit different lighting concept. The band executes the song perfectly on each one, despite the unusual mixing choice that allows Aaron North's lead guitar work to overpower most of the band. Even the song's signature keyboard line gets drowned out at times, but the growling guitar part does give it a harder edge that adds energy to the live show. The majority of Hurt is performed solely by Reznor, who sings and plays keyboard while under a single spotlight. It's a bit different setup than in the classic '90s video, where Reznor sings while a video montage of haunting images of decaying animals plays in the background. This is not to say that other songs on the latest DVD don't have some unusual video projections, but the band made the right choice with Hurt just using Reznor without any extra frills. Additionally, Reznor slows down the pace quite a bit at times, which creates a raw, human feel to it.
Content — 9
As live concerts go, the Live: With Tour stage show doesn't leave a lot out. While NIN was obviously touring to promote the album of the same name, the band doesn't skimp on pleasing the crowd with the classics. The main menu lists 19 songs, including March Of The Pigs, Wish, Head Like A Hole, and Bite The Hand That Feeds. There is also additional content, which features more live performances, song rehearsals, and videos.
Production Quality — 10
It's hard to go with anything but the highest rating when there are 3 top-of-the-line formats to choose from: the DVD, the HD DVD, and the Blue-ray. We were only able to obtain the regular DVD format, so it's hard to say if there is a massive difference in the viewing experience at this time. The fact that the band was thinking ahead about the changing technology is respectable, however. In terms of direction of the stage show, each song has a unique identity in terms of the camera work and the lighting. For a song like March Of The Pigs, there is an insane amount of lighting that does reflect the manic nature of the song. Then you have a track like Right Where It Belongs, a bit mellower tune that features NIN's classic video screen in the background (which features a great clip of George W. Bush dancing, then cuts immediately to some disturbing war footage). There was a lot of thought that went into the production, and even if you don't care for the setup of a few songs, you're still likely to find plenty that's cool about the stage show.
Overall Impression — 9
Trent Reznor has always been a major creative force in the rock scene, and last year's stage show proves he is still trying to push the artistic envelope. While seeing the background images projected onstage might not be as captivating as it was 10 years ago, the band didn't overdo it by any means. The band switched back to the regular stage lighting after a few songs with the video screen, which kept things moving along nicely. Probably the main area that lacked was the camera shots of Reznor. He always injects so much emotion to his singing that it's fascinating to see it up close. There was more of a concentration on the overall stage production -- lasers, lighting, and imagery. Musically the band's sound was solid, and it even sounds more incredible if you hear it in surround-sound. The band's last album might not have lived up to The Downward Spiral, but NIN still has a great body of work to keep the stage show as fresh as ever.