Fans hammered at Nine Inch Nails show
Industrial rockers set aside subtlety, run wild amid raging sonic
What made Nine Inch Nails' latest CD, The Fragile, so compelling wasn't just the high-decibel angst - but
also the more intricate sounds and delicate shadings. But such nuances don't always go over well with a
sweaty, boisterous crowd that just wants to R-O-C-K - a fact Nails head Trent Reznor fully understood
Tuesday night at Starplex.
So instead of playing up the more esoteric and experimental sides of The Fragile, the singer focused on
the harsh rhythms and lye-gargling vocals that have always been the band's bread and butter. It wasn't the
boldest decision he could have made, but it certainly paid off. Raging screamfests such as "Head Like a
Hole," "March of the Pigs" and the show-opening "Terrible Lie" sounded every bit as toxic as they always
have and easily whipped the audience into a lather.
Mr. Reznor and his four bandmates did explore more arty territory during a slow, contemplative segment
that included "Mer" and "The Great Below Right." As water images flickered across three rectangular,
TV-quality video screens, Nine Inch Nails started to mine the dark depths of psychedelia.
But they didn't get very far. The band spent the bulk of the show cranking out full-blown industrial rock
while scrambling around the smoke-shrouded stage like characters in a war movie.
Keyboardist Charlie Clouser engaged in man-to-man combat with his synthesizer, punching and slamming
the instrument until it bounced up and down and spun in circles. But the real ringleader was Mr. Reznor,
an intense, brooding frontman who loved to writhe across the floor and hurl bottles of water into the crowd
as if they were hand grenades.
A Perfect Circle singer Maynard James Keenan laid on the hucksterism a bit thick during the opening set,
reminding the crowd several times that the band's debut album just came out and "daring" them to buy it.
He needn't have used the hard sell, since the quintet's high-drama guitar rock easily stood up on its own.
Mr. Keenan possesses one of the most engaging opera-strength yowls in rock - a fact he proved years
ago with his other band, Tool. And while A Perfect Circle didn't add anything new or different to the Tool
box, there's no such thing as too much doom and gloom when the music is as potent as "Judith" was.
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.