Nine Inch Nails More than Scrape By

By SAMANTHA THOMAS for Marshall Parthenon (MU) on October 11, 2005

It had been six years since Nine Inch Nails last released a studio album when "With Teeth" was released earlier this year. But when frontman Trent Reznor brought the supporting tour to Cleveland Sunday night, he was welcomed by a house of still-devoted fans.

Many audience members wore faded and peeling vintage NIN shirts, proof that they had been there in the late '80s and early '90s for "Pretty Hate Machine" and "The Downward Spiral." What is popular on the rock scene may have changed since Reznor was last in the limelight, but he rocked as only he knows how and legions of NIN enthusiasts shook the stands.

Queens of the Stone Age took the stage before NIN and rocked the crowd of mostly 20-somethings at Gund Arena.

Queens, led by frontman Josh Homme, played music from all four of its widely-released albums and jested with the crowd about the meaning behind their songs. Hint: if ever on Rock and Roll Jeopardy, a good guess would be to say that any and all of Queens' songs are about sex.

"Little Sister," "No One Knows" and "Go With the Flow" all garnered huge responses from the crowd. The music sounded better than it does on their albums, which is rare in a live show.

But audience members were not left long to ponder such thoughts, as Nine Inch Nails took the stage shortly thereafter.

The band played its first number behind a grey curtain, silhouettes of Trent Reznor and former Marilyn Manson bandmate, Twiggy Ramirez, taunted the crowd.

When the curtain finally dropped, Reznor was sporting a new 'do (a closely shaved look that fits him nicely) and shiny leather pants. The sound quality was superb, every chord and note was accentuated. Throughout "March of the Pigs," "Terrible Lie" and "Head Like a Hole," a sea of fists punched the air, audience members screamed along with the songs that had been the soundtrack to their teenage years.

Near the end of the set, the curtain dropped again, a video montage of money being printed, forests being cut down and bombs exploding on the horizon reflected back toward the audience from the curtain. Halfway through "The Hand that Feeds," the projections stopped and a spotlight was on Reznor in the otherwise black arena. He finished the song and then exploded at the projection manager from the stage, using a string of expletives, heaving water bottles at the sound and video booth, and apologizing to audience members for the abrupt end to the montage.

With things back on track, aside from projection issues, the band's set went smoothly. Near the end of the concert, Reznor once again cut the lights for "Hurt," a song that peaked in popularity in 1995, but was once again brought to the mainstream two years ago when Johnny Cash covered it for his final album.

Skipping the encore in lieu of playing more music, Reznor and his crew played up until the witching hour, finishing their last song and abruptly exiting stage left.

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