A blustery and damp Saturday night welcomes the first proper UK tour from Nine Inch Nails since they waved goodbye in 2009. The arena isn’t full to the brim but it’s bursting with a definite sense of excitement and expectation. Trent has a renewed passion for Nine Inch Nails after being away for a while and the fans are eager to get reacquainted with the legendary band.
Appearing onstage to the opening bars of ‘Somewhat Damaged’ in a cloud of dry ice and just a hint of what was to come in the lightshow department; that subdued Sonisphere show of 2009 quickly becomes a distant memory. NIN are here to rock this place.
The set-list is front loaded with absolutely massive songs and gets the floor swirling from the start. ‘Terrible Lie’ followed by the chaotic ‘March of the Pigs’ into ‘Piggy’; it’s clear that nothing is being held back tonight. Trent, as always, keeps busy between being the vocalist, taking position behind his keyboards and various contraptions and occasionally straps his guitar on and goes into full-on rocking out mode. The only thing he doesn’t do is interact with his audience, but the day he starts cracking jokes and shouting “Are you with us?” will be a cold and miserable day in Hell.
If there is a Hell…
Robin has just as many duties, but it’s when he picks up the guitar during the time-honoured Industrial barrages such as ‘Wish’ that he looks at his most impressive. It’s not just the Trent show with Robin around.
The “Fifth member”, or in this incarnation of NIN, the sixth member of the show is the production. The large digital screen moves around, sometimes carving the stage into a more intimate size, sometimes flying high above the band. It projects various images from the traditional twisted and disturbing video footage from the likes of ‘Closer’ to mesmerising psychedelic displays. Coupled with an ever-changing light show and a plentiful helping of dry ice; NIN create a spectacle fitting of the arena setting.
When you still have tunes the size of ‘Head Like a Hole’ to finish up with however, they could well be playing by torchlight and the crowd would still be lost in that iconic chorus. There aren’t many people in attendance not shouting it back at the band just as fiercely as it’s delivered to them. A set-closer and-a-half before the short encore.
‘The Day the World Went Away’ is delivered in front of a suitably apocalyptic plain orange background before ‘Hurt’ finishes things off in emotional and subdued style.
The continual evolution of Nine Inch Nails over the years has led to a varying and contrasting catalogue of songs. To be able to weld those different approaches together into a seamless show like this must be no small undertaking, but it looks effortless. Trent Reznor had nothing to prove when he brought back the band from hibernation, but just in case anyone had any doubts; he’s melted our faces off tonight.