Nearly two years after delivering its sprawling two-CD set epic The Fragile,Nine Inch Nails drops another aural—and visual—extravaganza. A souvenirof its lauded 2000 “Fragility v2.0” tour, And All That Could HaveBeen is a multi-media cornucopia of product that comes at us in a vividlydynamic DVD and in two CD packages—a straight-up live album and a limitededition set that sports a worthwhile EP, titled Still, of “deconstructed”tracks, new instrumentals and the gentle but disquietingly ambient new songfrom which the project takes its title. But in any medium, the greatest successhere is in capturing the power of NIN’s live shows, which in many wayshave always surpassed the studio albums Trent Reznor producers under that moniker.In concert, Reznor and his mates lose the occasionally stifling perfectionismthey pursue in the studio and let loose with a different kind of energy anddynamic punch that gives the 16 career-spanning concert tracks a looser, warmertype of vitality.
Angst-filled rockers like “Terrible Lie,” “Head Like a Hole”and “Star******s, Inc.,” for instance, blaze along at a breathless,headbanging pace, while quieter songs such as “The Great Below,” “Piggy”and the majestically painful show closer “Hurt” get the chance tobreathe with the kind of genuineness that’s only hinted at in their studioincarnations. And “Closer” has a raw, soulful quality that nearlyreinvents one of NIN’s biggest hits. The video, meanwhile, documents allthe inventive lighting effects and occasionally disturbing imagery of the showRolling Stone picked as Best Tour of the Year in 2000; the DVD, of course,adds plenty of extras, including mostly insightful commentary from Reznor. Mostperformers regard live albums and videos as stopgap measures or contractualfulfillments, but Reznor and company have used And All That Could Have Beenas an opportunity to make a sweeping creative statement that’s well worthconsuming in all of its varied forms.