Cleveland Free Times

April 2000

Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle

CSU Convocation Center - Wednesday, April 12

Trent Reznor may have damned himself with his own words. "This machine is obsolete," sang Reznor behind a black screen that veiled him and his band in silhouette during their show-opening rendition of "Somewhat Damaged." Judging from the empty seats that littered the arena and the generally restrained audience greeting, Reznor's words were more than a little prophetic.

It wasn't that the band's performance was terribly lacking or their material uninspiring; it was that Nine Inch Nails, with a set awash with temperamental instruments, were attempting a measure of ambition in the context of Arena Rock 2000. This a zone typically filled by the likes of Korn, Creed and, as always, Kiss - one in which Budweiser, not refinement, flows most freely.

As the veil parted to reveal the band onstage in Ohio for the first time in over five years, NIN launched into the propulsive "Terrible Lie," an early highlight. With a mohawked Robin Finck knocking over lights and diving into the audience during the next song, "March Of The Pigs," NIN began on a promisingly volatile note.

But after a solid start, Reznor and his band would content themselves with delivering a competent, solid performance that never reached the overblown proportions needed to really make an arena show work. Throughout their set they performed at a degree just below boiling. Some of the band's strongest numbers, such as the usually searing "Wish" and their biggest hit, "Closer," were fairly toothless, garnering surprisingly docile crowd reactions. The show certainly had its moments, particularly in a bruising take on "gave Up" and "Head Like A Hole." But for the most part, NIN turned in a precise, machine like performance that played like Nintendo in the year of the Dreamcast.

Preceding Nine Inch Nails was A Perfect Circle, fronted by Tool's Maynard James Keenan. Wearing a gray suit with no shirt and sporting long locks, Maynard's slick attire complemented the band's somewhat polished sound. Rife with melodic melodramatics, A Perfect Circle turned in a languorous, snail-traveling-through-tar set that, judging by the audience's reaction, wasn't quite as enthralling as downing plastic cups of beer. - Jason Bracelin

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Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
This article is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously located at SUS.