Nine Inch Nails live review
The worry was always going to be, ‘what if being clean destroys what made Trent Reznor great?’ What if he gets fat and ugly? What if the new album sounds too sober? What if, when live, he makes ‘Hurt’ sound like the music from The Magic Roundabout?
As many of you will already know, his latest album ‘With Teeth’ may have had a shaky initial reception, but having climbed the charts all over the globe and witnessed his first single in five years, ‘The Hand That Feeds’, reach unprecedented levels, Reznor is every bit the shadowy genius he always was.
After two greatest hits dates at the Astoria earlier this year, the enthusiasm for more live dates reached fever pitch. But – as is his wont – Trent kept us waiting.
Reznor’s ever-changing live line-up currently consists of former Icarus Line guitarist Aaron North, A Perfect Circle bassist Jeordie White, drummer Jerome Dillon and keyboardist Alessandro Cortini.
Brixton has an added air of anticipation as some of the more ambient tracks from ‘With Teeth’ play before his understated entrance. With everyone dressed in black, the new NIN take to the stage, and in what seems like the blink of eye they’ve played two hours of Nails in a whirlwind of hair, sweat and splintered wood.
Classics like ‘Terrible Lie’ and ‘Starfuckers Inc’ are as tight and earnest as ever, the twisted disco of ‘The Hand That Feeds’ is nearly too much to cope with, and an utterly heart-breaking stripped down version of ‘Hurt’ has the entire crowd singing every word uninvited.
At the end, people are left agog, some with full pints – like they’ve just seen a UFO, or Jeremy Paxman being polite.
Reznor is still the recoiled muscle wound up tighter than a freelance journalist’s budget. He still pumps out that pent-up aggression by the barrow-load, and Aaron North throws himself around the stage like the personification of alcohol and amphetamine in one frenetic and erratic dose.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief: Trent Reznor is still the same dark deity – tense, macabre and enigmatic.