NIN – The Eden Sessions 2022, REVIEWED!

© Anna Hyams for Summer Festival Guide

It’s one of the hottest days of the year, we’re edging up against the solstice, and we’ve decided to spend the day in a giant greenhouse. Yes, we’ve finally made it back to Eden Project Cornwall, for The Eden Sessions – a series of gigs held in arguably the world’s most beautiful venue. This year so far, Eden has hosted the likes of My Chemical Romance and Noel Gallagher but tonight we’re down for day one of the iconic Nine Inch Nails double-header.

Along with your ticket for one of the Sessions, you are able to visit The Eden Project itself on the day of or the day after your event. Given that standard tickets are around the £30 mark, this is a great way to experience the biomes as an added bonus. We take a tour of the Mediterranean biome first, which is full of citrus, herbs and grapevines – it smells absolutely incredible, but good grief is it hotter than the seventh circle of hell today. There’s so much to see and learn about, but our favourite occupation is lizard spotting.

The bigger Rainforest biome is actually slightly cooler (owing to the canopy and the humidity, we did learn something) and there are water stops all the way around. We took the treetop walk, found some cooling mists and marveled at giant bamboo. Actually, the best bit was all the black-clad gothic types sweating it out, and having a lovely time taking selfies in the daylight for a change. Dipping out of the biomes into the central café, we recharge with burrito wraps and Cornish Cola (yes, it’s a thing) – followed up with ice-cream in the sunshine and a look around the outside garden area. There’s a tipi bar (with special commemorative Sessions cups on offer) and a regular bar, either side of the arena.

Heading into the arena area, a banked-sided perfect bowl amphitheatre, it’s obvious that everyone is going to get a great view from wherever they stand tonight. With around a 6,500 capacity, it’s a smallish venue which definitely makes for an intimate show. Despite the still sizzling heat of the day, the crowd of black tshirts is amassing ready for support act Nitzer Ebb.

 © Anna Hyams for Summer Festival Guide

Nitzer Ebb (sans Doug McCarthy), 80’s Brit-EDM with a very industrial sound, are raucously good fun – and vocalist Bon Harris’ gives a convincing portrayal of dingy-club-basement-rave, in the Cornish sunshine. I think they’ve managed to secure more than a few new fans tonight.

Nine Inch Nails are hailed in with a wall of smoke so dense that it takes half of intro track ‘Somewhat Damaged’ to even see the outline of Trent Reznor, but when we do – an almighty roar goes up from the arena. It is wild that a band who sell out huge stadiums all over the world, are here tonight in the sleepy leg of England, but there are some die-hard fans here who have travelled great distances for it.

Reznor and bandmate Atticus Ross take no time at all to bring the fury, the full force of Reznor as a performer – backed by an incredible line up of talent (Finck, Cortini, Rubin), it’s already everything we were waiting for. Dressed in a beaten leather jacket and a muscle-hugging black tshirt – it’s clear Reznor has left behind the angsty teen pvc-gloves and visible ennui behind, and is giving off big John Wick vibes. The huge lighting rigs behind beat to the heart-stopping wave of sound for ‘The Day The World Went Away’, and the crowd goes absolutely beserk.

© Anna Hyams for Summer Festival Guide

‘Mr. Self Destruct’ and ‘The Frail’ are stunningly epic, and we are treated to a rare outing of ‘Love Is Not Enough’. ‘Wish’ buries itself deep into your soul, but it’s ‘The Perfect Drug’ that just has the entire arena bouncing with wild abandon. There’s a visceral freedom in NIN’s music that allows for chaotic expression, and it’s clear this crowd has come to let it out – the nihilistic need for post-pandemic self-destruction.

Grabbing up a guitar, followed by a saxophone, followed by a tambourine, you get a glimpse of the passion Reznor has for music in all forms – and I can’t help but giggle that he’s basically screaming the iconic lines (you know the ones…) from ‘Closer’ across the sleepy Cornish countryside. I wonder if he finds the juxtaposition as amusing as I do, this certainly isn’t your standard insulated concert venue.

‘Copy of A’ has the whole arena singing/shouting along, and the show is absolutely relentless, with the band taking hardly any breaks between song after heavy song, Reznor is a machine. However he does have time to quip “We love this place, but does the sun ever goddamn go down?! Feeling exposed up here, there’s too much light” – which in retrospect of the following night’s weather, might have been a touch too close to tempting fate.

© Anna Hyams for Summer Festival Guide

Referencing our dear friend the global pandemonium, Reznor confides “It’s been disorienting to come out and play shows, but it’s also been fucking great” hitting on the nerve I think many are feeling tonight, before going full grunge cover in homage to late friend and mentor David Bowie, with ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’ and ‘Fashion’.

The night finally descends over Eden, in time for ‘Head Like A Hole’ to absolute bury us in the ecstasy of pure live music joy. The biomes are lit in time with the music, rippling through blues and purples to pure white matching the stage lights. The encore, ‘Everything’ and ‘March of the Pigs’ are amazing, but there may be nothing that comes as close to a perfect concert moment as closer ‘Hurt’ does tonight. The air is vibrating with anticipation as Reznor lines up those opening lyrics, and then it becomes the most gut punching dirge outro you can imagine. We wish there was more, we will there to be more, but it’s over. This one goes down in my personal history of one of the most iconic shows I’ve ever seen. Both the venue and the music, will be hard to live up to.

© Anna Hyams for Summer Festival Guide

Skrillex @ Eden Sessions Review

Back once again to raise the roof in a quiet little corner of Cornwall is The Eden Sessions. Held in the futuristic agricultural experiment, The Eden Project – these one night concert spectaculars have seen some incredible names grace the stage in front of the Biomes over the years, and this year sees the likes of Ellie Goulding, Pixies and Elbow top the bill. 
However, tonight is the night Eden comes alive with a dose of electrifying bone-shaking beats from misfit messiah DJ Sonny Moore‎, aka Skrillex.
‎After a heavy-handed search by the mass of event security (we are told that quite a lot of 'interesting' items have turned up already and that searches have been significantly upscaled for this particular night of the sessions) we head out to take in the view of Eden from the top of the hill. Giant caterpillar-like Biomes nestled in a lush valley of vegetation are the sci-fi lovers wet dream, and with their burst looking skylights you could almost imagine some kind of alien escape scene. As we stroll down towards the stage and café area, a screeching man flies past attached to a perilous looking zipwire.
The cafes offer pasties, burgers and sweet potato fries (all Eden specials of course, no rubbish festival food here) and the hippy-tastic Carrot, Lemon & Sesame burger with a dollop of extremely hot Eden-made sweet chilli sauce is exactly the kind of meal you need before you spend a few hours raving in a garden.
The arena itself faces towards the hillside and visitor centre, with the Biomes making for a stunning backdrop, and the curved amphitheatre has a grassy area for reclinin‎g, which many people are doing in the sunshine.
Warm up DJ's Chris Lorenzo, followed by Tchami are perfect for the event, a nice mix of heavy drum and bass, and samples of stuff everyone knows to get us in the mood. Running in to join/take over from DJ Tchami, Skrillex in his signature black uniform, black scruffy hair and black Wayfarer sunglasses – looks so out of place at the vibrant Eden, but gets down to business straight away with devastatingly loud bass-drops.
Jumping atop the deck rig as flame and smoke canons erupt, Skrillex yells "Yo everybody is participating, I wanna see your hands up like this"‎ and initiates a side-to-side wave from the crowd, whilst simultaneously keeping the music going and smoking a cigarette.
As an artist who travels seamlessly between songs and samples, it can be difficult for fans to snatch a bit of tracks they know, but Skrillex makes sure the major favourites are included in snippets all the way through as he energetically leaps and bounces through the set.
After a particularly weird set of VT's involving aliens and computer error messages, the opening scenes of Disney's The Lion King appear on screen, accompanied by a heavily remixed and scratched version of 'The Circle of Life' and Skrillex screams "Light it up Eden" to an ecstatic crowd.
‎Fan favourite 'Kill Everybody' goes down a storm, with everyone up and dancing, throwing clothes and shoes to the floor in an attempt to be more free, and Skrillex wears his white headphones around his forehead like a halo as the sun dips on Eden.
‎For ex-girlfriend and ex-collaborator Ellie Goulding's Skrillex track 'Summit' the stage is filled with stars and white beams of light, but the wonder is short lived as the song is well and truly clipped short in favour of 'Vikings' and 'Rock and Roll'.
Calling "Shout out to mother nature for giving us a beautiful day, no rain! Shout out to eden for saving mother nature"‎ Skrillex gives the frenetic crowd what they want, 'First of the Year (Equinox)', samples of MGMT's 'Kids' and some seriously heavy basslines.
With Nyan-cat floating across the screen, the night drawing in and the lasers getting sharp, 'Kyoto' is enough to flutter the eardrums of the furthers alien planets, and 'Bangerang' (with a little sample of 'Work It' by Missy Elliot in there) as expected gets the biggest roar of the night. During a 'crowd participation' moment where Skrillex implores everyone to "…get low! We're going to blow this shit into outer space and colonise mars‎…" the true nature of the night is shown – everyone is joining in, ready to go big on the beat.
Skrillex's "Shout out to those twin kids, dudes! Start them young! When I was 9, my dad took me to see Metallica, I loved it. Speaking of Metallica, is anyone going to Glaston-berry?" is met with tumble-weed like silence‎ but his appreciation of the Project "So blessed to be invited to Eden, did you guys see that biodome over there? That shit blew my mind" is met with rapturous applause.
'Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites' have people dancing like they aren't being filmed… which they are, you can catch it on Eden's youtube channel… and Skrillex closes out this session with an abrupt but warm departure. Despite the crowd chanting for mo‎re, it's the end of the night, and the mass of sweaty bodies and red grinning faces say it's been a damn good night.