Review: Nine Inch Nails at Vector Arena

By Scott Kara

Trent Reznor and his band nailed it right from the start. With the onslaught of opener 1,000,000, off last year's free download album The Slip, Nine Inch Nails plastered us all over the walls of Vector Arena.

Despite what some bands might say, good sound is as much to do with the players as it is with the sound guys on the control desk, and this was the best sounding show I've heard at Vector since it opened in 2007.

And it helped that the four piece Nine Inch Nails band, including multi-instrumentalist Reznor and new maniac drummer Llan Rubin, laid into their instruments and never let go.

The sound was heavy, all-consuming, but most importantly, the clarity was intense - even if the finale of 1989 classic Head Like A Hole could have packed more of a punch (more on that song later).

Backed by a stunning light show the band whipped through old songs (like Terrible Lie and the melodramatic Something I Can Never Have from 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine); the classics (including a seething and scything March of the Pigs and poignant Hurt); newer songs (of which Letting You was the best), and a non album track, which was the only nod-inducing spot of the night (there was a reason you didn't put it on With Teeth Trent).

The frontman, an influential figure in popularising industrial music in the late 80s and early 90s, was plagued by a drug and alcohol addiction throughout the first part of his career, and in 2000 he virtually fell off the musical radar until returning with With Teeth in 2005.

So it was good to see him bounding round the stage like a stealth lizard; screaming and crooning for all he's worth; and multi-tasking, playing keyboards, twiddling knobs, strapping on a guitar, and beating his chest with a tambourine.

But, just when it seems he's well and truly back on track, he announced that this will probably be the last Nine Inch Nails tour.

Maybe he has plans to head off and be a mad musical scientist and make more 36-track instrumental albums like he did recently on Ghosts?

It sounds indulgent, but it worked.

The one and three quarter hour set came to an abrupt end when the house lights snapped on following Head Like A Hole. Yes, what a tune to end on, with the heavy industrial camp classic sounding just as revolutionary as it did 20 years ago. But was that it?

At 10.45pm the fans were not happy, they lingered around, stamped their feet and begged for more.

It never came and it left you feeling a little disgruntled.

Still, when you've been beautifully beaten up by a raging version of Wish, off 1992's Broken EP, you can hardly complain - it was the night's highlight and a rare treat.

- NZ Herald

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