Nails' front man Trent Reznor performs at the
on Tuesday night.
Times have indeed changed since Reznor's Nine Inch Nails
Pretty Hate Machine in 1989. Tuesday at the
the leather and vinyl bondage fashions on some of the faithful
Yet the fire that fuels Reznor hasn't waned, judging from his
surprisingly powerful, razor-sharp set -- from the crackle of
meeting stage to the stripped-down instrumentation that allowed
to be the centerpiece.
It's all about self-loathing and despair, the futile but --
-- never-ending search for truth and love. Perhaps a limiting
but to Reznor there are are a thousand shades of black.
Unlike the current crop of rabble-rousing rockers, who
more than petty vandalism from fans, Nine Inch Nails continues
its audience. (It's unlikely you'll see Limp Bizkit attempt
passages a few years hence, much less make them riveting.) NIN
only two full studio albums since its debut, but both -- 1994's
Downward Spiral and last year's The Fragile --
been artistic double-disc sets.
Reznor's thrashing and microphone-banging tantrums are part of
but his gratitude was genuine during the encore. "I
and the band, thank you for being there for us," he told
crowd." . . . "You go away for a long time, and I didn't
guys would be here. And it means the world to me."
The concert was thoughtfully staged, from the effectively
and a trio of flat video screens to the flow of the set list.
acted as bookends to new songs.
The start was vintage NIN, Reznor and his band raging through
Terrible Lie and Sin (both from
Machine). Then they chewed up March of the
arms outstretched, pondering during the acoustic piano break,
it make you feel better?" before the band hammered back in)
slower, seductive Piggy.
The transition started when Reznor played keyboard, programmed
like grand piano, on the gently percolating The
A mesmerizing suite from the new album was a minor triumph.
with gorgeous visuals (a pool of water photographed with
a field of flowers) on the vertical-strip screens, it began with
Amos-style piano, its reverie interrupted by drums. A digital
surfaced on the gorgeous The Great Below, and
Has Been Made had a slightly psychedelic edge and echoed
The transition back to unbridled rage was also well-done, with
Wish and supercharged trance of
before Reznor resumed his full-on rants with Suck,
nattering of Closer ("my whole existence is
get me closer to God") and the chant-along favorite
a Hole, the emphasis shifted from electronics to snarling
to close the show.
His gracious words to the crowd were underscored by the songs
The Day the World Went Away and Even
he'd long pondered whether there was still a place for NIN.
Reassured, he went back on the attack with the deliciously
Starsuckers, Inc. (the title of the cleaned-up
highlighting the lyric borrowed from Carly Simon's You're
-- "I bet you think this song is about you, don't you,
Instead of ending on a sour note, Reznor returned to his own
with a broken whisper on Hurt.
Opening act A Perfect Circle, featuring bewigged Tool frontman
James Keenan, have generated much interest in the alt/art-rock
The outfit has the same sort of weighty feeling as Tool. But
metal they employ an eclectic, intriguing array of influences,
Age-like, Middle-Eastern sounds to drum 'n' bass, sounding on
like the Cocteau Twins and the Moody Blues on another. A Perfect
won't overshadow Tool, but it's far more than just a throw-away
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.