The Arizona Republic

June 2000

Nine Inch Nails wows crowd

After a five-year hiatus, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails reminded Phoenix on Sunday just how overpowering their mix of raging lyrics, power chords, thrash and occasional peaceful interludes can be.

Assaulting the two-thirds-full America West Arena with angry classics as well as more complex newer material, this performance again proved that a writer's words can hold just as much shock value as the loudest guitar barrage when performed by musical masters such as Reznor and his four bandmates.

A chaotic combination of cutting lyrics, slashing guitar and droning keyboards launched the 90-minute show with Reznor telling God that "you owe me a great big apology" in 1989's "Terrible Lie."

White lights and blinding strobes bathed the general-admission crowd as much as Reznor, who has always seemed far more interested in delivering his singleminded music than in grabbing the spotlight. There was little color evident as the singer lamented that "your need for me has been replaced" in another early song, "Sin."

The stage was non-stop movement for most of the night, with Reznor dousing the standing room crowd that swirled in front of the stage with water, and guitarist Robin Finck launching himself into the throng. Reznor, clad in his generic uniform of sleeveless top, dark pants and boots, later would spend some time in the audience as well.

A few members of the audience launched cups of ice at the band, but in general this crowd didn't justify the massive show of security at the arena. (No beer was sold. It seems that crazed hockey fans who bang their heads on the glass can buy unlimited brewskis at Coyotes games, but 22-year-old kids who happen to favor black wardrobes get to sip Diet Coke when they visit the Purple Palace.)

The Nine Inch Nails classics were greeted like old friends by this young crowd. "Head Like a Hole" was as fired off against a glitzy yet hip white video backdrop designed by New York artist Bill Viola and unrelenting strobes.

"March of the Pigs" still brings a smile with its mix of thrash and a chorus that asked "Doesn't it make you feel better?"

And the infamous "Closer "was as animalistic as ever, sung before a flood of bordello red video. This onslaught was balanced by the more intricate material of 1999's "The Fragile" album.

"The Day the World Went Away" was bathed in a dreamy intro and showcased haunting guitar and synthesizer work by Finck and Charlie Clouser.

The tender title cut promised that "I won't let you fall apart."

The show ended with a mix emblematic of the evening: The raunchy "Star(expletive) Inc." and the soft, emotional "Hurt."

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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.