Trent Reznor has always understood the importance of visual accompaniment to his music. With that in mind, the Nine Inch Nails mastermind orchestrated an epic multi-media spectacle at the Bell Center last night, shattering the myth that arena rock shows have no soul.
The set began with the band semi-obscured behind a silver sheet curtain, where they remained during the duration of the slow burning opener "Love Is Not Enough". The pace then quickly picked up as the curtain rose, with explosive renditions of "You Know What You Are?" and the anthemic "Terrible Lie".
While the bulk of the set consisted of material from the recent "With Teeth" disc, the band also reached deep into the vaults for crowd-pleasers "Dead Souls" and "Burn" (off of "The Crow" and "Natural Born Killers" soundtracks, respectively).
Approximately an hour into the show is when things really started to get interesting. The silver curtain was brought down in front of the band again and served as an enormous projection screen. The visuals began simply enough, with calming imagery of nature and animal wildlife. As the pace of the music increased, images of war, death and genocide began to be spliced in at a rapid pace, inter-cut with visuals of wealth and prestige. A flash of U.S. President George Bush launched a predictable chorus of boos, which were quickly silenced as the rapid-fire imagery began to reach its apex. As "Eraser" began to wind down, Reznor's repetitive howl of "Kill Me!" was matched by imagery of nuclear explosions and recent war footage, a disturbing yet potent commentary. Reznor has never strayed too far into the political arena before, focusing on documenting his own personal neuroses' instead. This made the presentation all the more unexpected and in turn, much more powerful.
The state-of-the-art light show and innovative stage design added yet another touch of show-biz wizardry to the proceedings. The expertly timed light show in particular helped reinforce the mood for each song, with the bordello-red flood lights for "Closer" being a mid-set highlight.
The newly buff and drug-free Reznor led the band through an intensely aggressive set, with all the thrown mic-stands and smashed equipment the group has long been known for. The 40-year-old Reznor seemed completely energized, demonstrating a level of intensity that frontmen half his age would be hard-pressed to match.
As "Head Like A Hole" wrapped things up at the two-hour mark, the house lights began flickering on, indicating that no encore would be forthcoming. The drained crowd hardly seemed to notice, as they poured out of the arena exhilarated at the epic show they had just taken in.
–Love is Not Enough
–You Know What You Are?
–The Line Begins to Blur
–March of the Pigs
–Something I Can Never Have
–Right Where it Belongs
–Beside You in Time
–The Hand That Feeds
–Head Like a Hole