Nine Inch Nails (St. Louis)

By Kevin C. Johnson for St Louis Post-Dispatch on October 15, 2005

You can talk about how hip the Killers or Franz Ferdinand are all you like, but when it comes to real staying power and concert prowess, they and the rest of their ilk can take lessons from Nine Inch Nails.

Nine Inch Nails are true alt-rock veterans who proved their continued mettle Friday night at Savvis Center in front of 9,100 fans. The 90-minute-plus concert was nothing short of an unnerving sonic and visual blast that rocked the Savvis stage in ways it probably hadn't seen or felt in a while.

Newly buff, shortly cropped singer Trent Reznor and his band opened the explosive, yet pyrotechnics-free show from behind hazy, gauze-like drapery that surrounded the stage for "Love is Not Enough," a song from the new "With Teeth" CD. Going with an album cut right off the top was a risky choice, but the startling presentation carried it. The curtains came up for another new album cut, "You Know What You Are," before going into the more familiar fare like "Terrible Lie," "Wish," and "The Hand That Feeds," and "Head Like a Hole."

Reznor, a king of moody angst, showed that on songs such as "The Wretched," and "Hurt," the latter performed solo on keyboards. For a trio of songs including "Right Where It Belongs," the drapery returned and a melange of striking images from the ravages of war to masses of insects were projected while the band performed mostly in darkness behind the curtains. An image of President George W. Bush dancing with his wife riled the crowd up more than a bit.

But once it's all said and done, the two main reasons to indulge in a Nine Inch Nails concert are to hear the umpteenth renditions of the decade-old songs "Closer" and "March of the Pigs." "Closer" is still one of the most uninhibited, sexiest songs ever, sounding like something Prince might've recorded during his dirtier heyday. "March of the Pigs" was as ferocious as ever, a blood-curdling smash-up that continues to captivate. Reznor ended the song throwing the microphone into the crowd; the fan who caught it screaming into it appropriately.

Nine Inch Nails, though essentially a one-man operation in the recording studio, is fleshed out live with a full band that included drummer Alex Carapetis, who newly replaced an ailing Jerome Dillon. Reznor stopped "Star (expletive)" in its tracks midway to note the change.

Despite all Reznor has gone through personally (his new thing is sobriety), his act remains tough as nails.

Queens of the Stone Age opened and was easily the right act to get the crowd primed for Nine Inch Nails. Full of soaring rhythms and unrelenting sound, the band never fails to disappoint.

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