Trent Reznor has crawled out of the depths of his depression with a snarling, gut-wrenching vengeance. Reznor, along with his backing band, put on a ferocious show at the Kool Haus last night that proved the frontman at least hasn’t lost his ability to summon up rage and helplessness and spit it all out in a violent live show.
The night began with the Dresden Dolls who, looking like delicate gothic marionettes, only held the attention of some of the crowd with their waltzing-cabaret, piano-tinged operatic rock. This must have been caused by Nine Inch Nails anticipation, as the duo were pretty captivating, especially when singer Amanda Palmer took on the persona of a pirate and hoisted a beer throughout a song about the sea.
NIN took the stage soon after, backed by an amazing light set that looked like a giant bleeping circuit board. The band, all dressed in black except for Reznor who wore a (gasp!) white dress shirt, looked like they stepped out of The Matrix.
They launched into “You Know What You Are?” from new album With_Teeth to screeching enthusiasm. The second song, Wish From Broken, stirred up just as much energy from the crowd. Reznor stomped around the stage and peeled off his shirt to reveal a black wife-beater. One of the brilliant aspects of a NIN show is that when performed live the songs always sound seamlessly close to the recorded version. In this case, the set list featured a good mix of new tunes with older ones, but unfortunately only a couple of tracks from the double-disc The Fragile appeared.
All of the classics were there – “Closer,” “March Of The Pigs” and “Terrible Lie.” The crowd sang along pitch-perfect to a lot of the songs, especially with “Something I Can Never Have” and “Hurt,” which also drew a quiet respect from the audience as Reznor sat solo with the spotlight illuminating him and his guitar.
The only between-song sound out of Reznor was “Thanks” a couple of times and “It’s great to be back in fucking Canada” near the start of the set. However, a Nine Inch Nails crowd doesn’t come for witty stage banter.
The show closed with “Head Like A Hole” and a lot people in the crowd actually put their arms up in mock praise when Reznor sang, “Bow down before the one you serve/You’re going to get what you deserve.” After a one hour and 15 minute set, the band didn’t come out for an encore. But it didn’t matter. The show was energetic, raw and amazing. The audience got exactly what they deserved.