Written by Samuel Barker
Oct 19, 2005 at 08:00 PM
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch NailsLet me begin by admitting that I was never a big fan of Nine Inch Nails while growing up. To me, the band was nothing more than the song that kept repeating the same phrases over and over that my friend used to play every time we DJed a dance in high school, Head Like A Hole. Sure, I dug my share of industrial music, but this song was not as dynamic as the Ministry and Skinny Puppy albums other friends had, so I dismissed it for the most part.

Then, some years later, the “band” (frontman Trent Reznor IS the entire band) blew up with the release of The Downward Spiral and decided I had to check out the band to see what they fuss was about. On this album, there were instant classics like March of the Pigs, Closer and Hurt. It seemed everyone I knew at that time, including myself, stopped and watched what this crazy guy from Cleveland was up to.

For some reason, I never made it back to Pretty Hate Machine until I met my wife. She has had this album in heavy rotation for years within our household and I was amazed at the depth and complexity of the songs on the album. But, this is just preaching to choir, as I am sure you, my gentle reader, are quite aware of this and don’t need me to remind you.

After all these years, I was finally getting to see the band live on this night at the Toyota Center. Opening the show was Queens of the Stone Age, but we’ll get to them later. The marquee sight to behold was Reznor and his group of backing musicians deliver these songs to their audience.

Behind a shroud surrounding the stage, the band took the stage in a flash of lights and smoke filling the cloth with silhouettes of the performers manning their positions. As the feedback screeched and a droning bassline filled the arena, a spotlight illuminated Reznor as the band launched into Love is Not Enough.

In the obscured view through the shroud, the figured moved around manically with music before everything went to black and the cloth surrounding the stage was drawn back to reveal the band clearly. With You Know What You Are, guitarist Aaron North threw himself around the stage, occasionally singing backups while Reznor, playing guitar himself, took the challenge and began what resembled two rubber balls bouncing in a wooden box.

While the set was heavily scattered with songs from new album, With Teeth, old favorites from way back to Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral were given just as much attention. Terrible Lie and March of the Pigs gave the set a complete and powerful opening.

As the night progressed, Reznor and company kept the energy high as video screens flashed images behind them, eventually leading to a series of boos from the audience when they were faced with a picture of President Bush. On this night, politics was about the only thing to boo.

Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone AgeGuitarist Aaron North spent the night pulling feedback and strained melodies from his guitars by hanging from a speaker cabinet on the drum riser or swinging his instrument behind his back. The energy between Reznor and North pushed the set to the brink. Both men were throwing microphone stands around the stage, creating a sense of chaos that fit beautifully with the music.

With an average wait of 5 years between albums, we can only hope Reznor gets inspired enough to make it into the studio much sooner than five years for another release. No matter the time before new material, if the tours continue, all will be well for the Nine Inch Nails fan.

Opening the show was Queens of the Stone Age.

With the departure of Nick Oliveri a year or so ago and lead man Josh Homme’s band The Eagles of Death Metal doing some substantial tours, it seemed Queens of the Stone Age may have been dead, but that shows to not be the case with a new album and an appearance on this tour.

Not willing to leave anything back, the band tore through a 14 song set in an hour filling the night with songs from all four of their albums. This set list was something one could expect from a headliner, but was made all that much more amazing because it was the opening act pulling it off.

Throughout the set, the members of the band switched instrument, eventually all taking turns filling Oliveri’s vacant spot on the stage at bass, and making the set come together. While losing a core member would destroy most bands, Queens of the Stone Age seem to have come through it sounding better than ever.

Nine Inch Nails Set List:
1. Love Is Not Enough
2. You Know What You Are
3. Terrible Lie
4. The Line Begins To Blur
5. March Of the Pigs
6. The Frail
7. The Wretched
8. Closer / The Only Time
9. Burn
10. Gave Up
11. Eraser
12. Right Where It Belongs
13. Beside You In Time
14. Wish
15. Sin
16. Only
17. Reptile
18. Suck
19. Hurt
20. The Hand That Feeds
21. Head Like A Hole