The stock of Nine Inch Nails and its reclusive tortured-genius leader Trent Reznor has suffered of late with the poor commercial performance of the group’s most recent, double-length album, but the veteran industrial band nonetheless can take credit for inspiring current megasellers like Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson. At the sold-out Pond, NIN showed that while it may no longer sell millions of records, the band maintains a powerful command of concert dynamics seldom matched by its progeny.
Reznor, whose face and body were smeared in faux mud, and his four bandmates treated the enthusiastic crowd to 95 minutes of high energy and extreme emotional release. Early set songs such as opener “Terrible Lie,” the determined “Piggy” and furious “March of the Pigs” made clear Reznor’s disdian for many of the people he’s forced to share the planet with, and his tirades earned vociferous agreement from the moshing kids at his feet.
A dazzling, computer-controlled light show, mind-bending visuals shown on the backdrop, and a surprisingly clean arena sound mix helped punctuate the band’s relentless attack. “I hate myself,” Reznor screamed during “Gave Up” while giant blood-red lights pulsed and bathed the musicians.
Show featured a half-dozen songs from NIN’s 1999 release “The Fragile,” which has yet to sell a million copies, as well as a selection of the band’s best older material, notably the explosive “Wish,” featuring a multilayered guitar assault, the creepy “Closer” and “Head Like a Hole,” the early-’90s modern-rock hit that launched the band’s career.
A four-song encore hit with the chilling “The Day the World Went Away” and missed with the throwaway Star*uckers, Inc.”
Opening act a Perfect Circle, is an intriguing new band featuring Tool singer Maynard James Keenan (sporting a long red wig on his bald head), former Nine Inch Nails guitar roadie Bill Howerdel, Vandals drummer Josh Freese, and former Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen.
APC performed most of the songs from its just-released debut album during its 45-minute portion, offering an impressive and modernized take on the sound of classic heavy bands like Led Zeppelin and Rush that was also marked by Keenan’s effectively voiced lyrics of emotional scarring and inner struggle.