Brixton Academy, London SW9
IT IS now ten years since Nine Inch Nails recorded
Pretty Hate Machine, a dark, introspective debut album
that was written, played and co-produced by the one-man
band of Trent Reznor. It spawned the hit single Head
Like a Hole, which took Nine Inch Nails into the
mainstream and gave Reznor the leverage to co-found his
own label, Nothing Records - whose signings include
Marilyn Manson, with whom he has worked closely - and
subsequently become one of the most influential figures on
the US music scene.
In recent years, Reznor has taken time off from Nine Inch
Nails to write film scores for Oliver Stone's Natural Born
Killers and David Lynch's Lost Highway, and to
collaborate with one of his heroes, David Bowie.
But following the release of the band's third full-length
studio album, The Fragile, in September, Reznor is back
on the road for a European tour, culminating in two
sold-out shows at Brixton Academy.
An impressive lighting rig illuminated the stage to reveal a
five-piece line-up of drums, keyboards and two guitars,
with Reznor alternating between vocals and additional
guitar and keyboards. The set got off to a powerful start
with a mixture of songs from the past and present - the
dour industrial mood of the new album's The Wretched
seguing into the monstrous Reptile from 1994's The
Downward Spiral. It was during Reptile, followed by the
intense No, You Don't, that the band were at their most
visual, with Reznor draping himself over the microphone,
while the rest of the lineup joined in on backing vocals and
rocked out in their various positions.
Immediately afterwards, a video screen descended across
the stage, obscuring the band - who continued to play on
- from the crowd's view. What followed was a three-song
interlude from The Fragile, beginning with La Mer, which
was accompanied by black and white images of the sea,
followed by The Great Below, and culminating in The
Way Out Is Through, which ended with realistic flames
shooting up the screen.
All three tracks were typical of the almost cinematic
diversity of the new album - although judging by some of
the crowd's indifferent reaction, this was not the kind of
music that most people come to see Nine Inch Nails for.
The frenetic Wish seemed to be much more like it,
suggesting that the band's appeal still lies in ultra-heavy
songs with a pop sensibility. Further proof of this came
with the closing Head Like A Hole, which ended with
sparks flying off the keyboards.
An epic three-song encore followed, the highlight of which
was Starf***ers Inc, a song from the new album widely
rumoured to be about Courtney Love, with whom Reznor
was once romantically linked, and which ended with the
crowd singing along to the refrain from Carly Simon's
You're So Vain.
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.