Nailed it Impressively

By Andrew Murfett for The Age on August 18, 2005

You could never say that Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor is ever in a hurry. With Teeth, his latest record, only his fourth in 15 years, is also the first NIN album that has been made without the assistance of drugs and alcohol.

Reznor thrilled a crowd of 6500 last night with a 23-song, 80-minute set.

Hundreds of black-clothed fans lined up outside the venue in anticipation early yesterday.

Members of NIN's fan club were treated to a sound check performance of four tracks.

Bearing a crewcut, Reznor's fans barely recognised the frontman with his new look.

Sensing this, Reznor smiled and murmured "It's OK, don't be afraid."

After releasing 1989's Pretty Hate Machine, it took Reznor five years to release the band's breakthrough, and one of alternative rock's seminal moments, The Downward Spiral.

Bloated double album, The Fragile, released in 1999, stiffed. And while With Teeth has been moderately successful, you sense it has yet to resonate fully with fans.

The band's previous two tours (as part of 1995's ill-fated Alternative Nation festival and 2000's Big Day Out) were indifferent for fans and Reznor alike.

"It's a bit of a blur," Reznor joked backstage last night.

His new band, however, were a formidable force. Indeed, ex-Marilyn Manson bassist Twiggy keeps the goth quotient intact.

If ever anyone can vouch for the teetotalling lifestyle, it's the newly reformed Reznor.

Lurching around the vast stage of Rod Laver Arena in a black T-shirt and black jeans, Reznor is — bizarrely for a formerly goth rock hero — almost, well, buff.

Opening with Wish and Sin, Reznor swung evenly between early material and his current album, with the notable omissions being We're In This Together Now and Into the Void.

Although the set lacked some momentum, Reznor was a sweat-drenched ball of intensity.

However, his biggest hit, Closer, felt somewhat rushed, and songs tended to drag a little.

The Frail/The Wretched was a confronting double, while he did his best to reclaim the hit Johnny Cash made his own, Hurt.

Although his creative and populist phases may seemingly have passed him by, Reznor and Nine Inch Nails are still an imposing and impressive force.

Transcribed by Saturnine from scans by Hughman

View the NIN Hotline article index