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May 2000

LIVE: Nine Inch Nails

Scary Trent Reznor caught in the act

Maple Leaf Gardens
Toronto, ON
Friday, April 28, 2000
Reviewer: Erin Cardiff

"Trent, you are MY GOD!" It was the second time Trent Reznor had ventured into the crowd and left his mic behind. A random fan had gotten a hold of it that was what he would have screamed. A capacity crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens heard it. The only question was whether or not they believed.

It was a difficult possibility to ignore, as Reznor took the stage outfitted in black from head to toe including the eyeshadow, with the occasional white splash across his sleeveless jacket. It was tough to decide if you were walking into a haunted house or out of a scene from the Bible. The attractive force was blatantly obvious, as a truly magnetic charm and charisma flowed from Reznor. Of course, those are not words mentioned too often in connection with Trent Reznor.

Witnessing an actual Nine Inch Nails show puts the myth of Reznor into an entirely different perspective. So much emphasis is placed on the reputation that supercedes him - being an extremely demanding perfectionist. Judging by the caliber of the stage show, it can hardly be argued that's a bad thing.

Regardless of one's love for Reznor, the stage itself was a breathtaking sight. The lighting was unlike anything to ever appear on stage. Three large panels hovered over the front of the stage - for no apparent reason at first. When they started to blink, it became an obvious lighting rig, but as they swung back to reveal the fact that it was actually three panels of a giant screen coming to rest behind the stage, the crowd was breathless. The stage was set almost as a member of the performance, as keyboards, drums, lights; performers - everything was completely mobile. Reznor trashed the stage repeatedly, and techs simply turned everything upright again.

The magnetism, the star power, the content of the show all point to one direction. Think what you will about Trent Reznor, but do not doubt, he is rock and roll. NIN are one of the most vital and exciting rock bands to ever grace a stage. And regardless of what he might think, Trent Reznor is a rock star. NIN is a rock phenomenon. This is what rock music needs - serious, hardcore reality. Of course, the usual between-song banter was non-existent, except for two or three repeats of the phrase "This is another song about FUCKING" though by the end of the show he seemed to be in good spirits - smiling throughout the encore and exclaiming: "You've put me in a good mood, which is rare. Thank you."

NIN may very well be the best rock band to appear in the last decade. Forget about the retro-camp and pop/rock nostalgia - rock has its best band. NIN.

The best part of this mind blowing experience? The show was played with passion and sincerity from start to finish powered through by the hard NIN sound. Being rock doesn't soften the edge at all. Trent Reznor is a notable craftsman - far more concerned with atmosphere than playing every single hit song. Notable in their absence from the setlist were recent singles "No You Don't" and "We're In This Together Now." Gaps were filled with moody instrumentals. The setlist did include an unrecognizable Queen cover "Get Down, Make Love", along with versions of "March Of The Pigs," "Perfect Drug" and "Closer," which sounded as purely perfect as humanly possible - even more glorious than on record.

At one point, Reznor spread out his arms in a stunningly convincing fashion looking every bit the part to sing the words, "I am Jesus Christ."

That, my friends, is for you to decide for yourself.

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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.