Toronto Sun Newspaper

April 2000

Reznor Nine Inch Nails it

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto
Friday, April 28, 2000

TORONTO -- It's doubtful that Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor sees his current tour as a chance to improve on his latest album, The Fragile/Halo Fourteen.

But that was precisely what the singer and group mastermind managed to do at Maple Leaf Gardens last night.

Granted, much of the sold-out concert was culled from Nine Inch Nails' back catalogue of industrial-rock anthems. Reznor and his crew wisely tapped their groundbreaking 1989 debut, Pretty Hate Machine, 1992's Broken EP, and 1994's massive The Downward Spiral, which readily supplied the stomp-along ballast and catchy dynamics that is missing on The Fragile/Halo Fourteen -- an impenetrable, over-written and under-edited double-CD of bilious ballads and synapse snapping techno-fuzz that took nearly half a decade to make.

Still, Reznor separated the cream of the new album and added it to his set, creating a superbly paced, circular motion for the show. The bombastic opening assault began while the band were still silhouetted behind a billowy curtain, which gave way to reveal a stark but eye-catching set-up, including three narrow screens that occasionally hovered over the band to great effect. NIN's stage get-ups remain the same -- right down to those dusty, post-apocalyptic black leathers that always look like they've just come from doing some dry-walling.

Considering the full house of 16,000 appeared to be a cross-section of latter-day goths, heavy music enthusiasts and veteran fans, Reznor couldn't miss.

His sense of timing was so impeccable, in fact, it deserves a play-by-play: The show coiled outward from Pretty Hate Machine rocker Terrible Lie and touched on '94's ripping March Of The Pigs, among other tunes, before gliding into a section of gentle, moody pieces like The Fragile's La Mer, which were given a ghostly boost thanks to some film clips.

Then it was back into the searing angst, an almost funky passage built around the group's Downward Spiral hit Closer, and a moody encore that featured Fragile standout The Day The World Went Away -- performed, Crazy Horse-like, in a tight circle -- and the devastating Hurt.

But, beyond his savvy, Reznor's strongest suit may just be his ability to play it all so well.

"You put me in a good mood," Reznor told the crowd late in the show, obviously sensing that this gig was a topper.

"That's a rare thing."

Right down to the last thunk of the strident and infectious Head Like A Hole , where the singer hurled his guitar playfully at keyboardist/sequencer man Charlie Clouser, you know he meant it.

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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.