Trent Reznor brought the iconic Nine Inch Nails back to the UK this week, stopping off at the 02 mid tour for an electric homecoming to British soil after a near five year hiatus. They brought along with them not only a dynamic fist pumping live show but a digital art exhibition that tied in perfectly with the unique electronic, industrial music that Reznor is infamous for.
Amongst downcast white spotlights smoke wafted between the silhouettes of four musicians as the gentle hub of bass and electronic magic began to bleed out in to the still and captured audience with opening track ‘Me I’m Not’ before effortlessly blending into the more up tempo ‘Copy of A’ as strobe lighting threw beautiful shadows over screens behind each band member.
Then the curtains dropped and old angst ridden classics ‘March of the Pigs’, ‘Piggy’, ‘The Frail’ and ‘The Wretched’ gave nineties flash backs to industrial grunge music at its best as drummer Ilan Rubin spectacularly flooded the arena with drum styling’s to make you reach climax before you’re even aware he’s picked up a drumstick.
‘Closer’ was a visual assault on the senses as the crowd chanted the daring infamous chorus of ‘fucking like animals’ to obscene and amorous red visuals that raped the eyesight amongst the erotic industrial track that penned Reznor’s career decades before.
Newer track ‘Disappointed’ was a scintillating chance for Alessandro Cortini to work his magic on keys and synths as Reznor stuffed the arena with an orgasm of multiple genres including electronic, RnB, drum and bass and his preferential industrial talent as looming over them vivid monochrome visuals pumped and flashed to the beat. ‘Find My Way’ was a vulnerable slow down to the otherwise up tempo set as a glowing sunset gave the perfect backdrop to Trent’s moving and harmonious performance bringing back the melancholy lyrics of yesteryear into his contemporary digital world.
Comeback single ‘Came Back Haunted’ was injected with a much bigger sound than the recorded version with flashing lasers and textured artwork before the band dived back into the older more destructive tracks ‘The Great Destroyer’ and ‘Eraser’ complete with dazzling heart stopping strobe lights that matched the unforgiving pernicious music.
‘Wish’, ‘Head Like a Hole’ and ‘The Hand the Feeds’ brought the devoted arena to their feet to pump their fists in the air chanting, “I’d rather die, than give you control” as even those in the nosebleed sections high in the roof cheered through the brief pre-encore break. The band returned to the stage with the beautiful ‘The Day The Whole World Went Away’ blending all four musicians magnificently as old favorite Robin Finck on guitar rounded off all the many reasons why he’s been a long time live collaborator with Reznor thanks to his complete and utter genius work on stage.
Finally, the show could only end on one note and that is with Reznor’s most celebrated song of his career, ‘Hurt’, which brought a tear to many eyes as they sang their hearts out to ‘everyone I know goes away in the end’ before a grandiose finale as every single person in the crowd stood on their feet smashing their hands together in glee at the spectacle they just experienced.
What we witnessed last night at the 02 was more than just a live act; it was an exhibition of art and music working in harmony as four men with music running their veins brought the arena to their knees. Reznor may be pushing fifty years old but with his energetic performance, strong vocals and aggressively artistic presence it proves that Nine Inch Nails have got many years of great live music to come yet. And it was obvious the crowd were hungry for more.
Review by Kat Bagshawe
Kat Bagshaw(e) with an e, is someone who's passionate about words and using them. Kat is a music, movie and theatre blogger who can often be seen at Edgar Wright marathons.
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