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NINE INCH NAILS | Plus: the Dresden Dolls

Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, 16.05.05

By Daniel Lukes for Kerrang! on June 8, 2005

Given that most of his contemporaries have either died, fallen by the wayside, or resurfaced in no-so-super groups that do everything but live up to their former glories, it’s heartwarming to see that Reznor, perhaps the most iconic figure of 90’s alt-rock after Kurt Cobain, is still peddling music that is as vital and invigorating as this.

Grotesque and Pierrot-bedecked cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls are an inspired opening act, and beyond their camp and frantic drum-and-piano-led thrashings, their spot-on cover of ‘War Pigs’ is but the icing on the cake. Opening with new number ‘You Know What You Are?’, NIN tonight are on fire. The set-list warming up with a thrilling ‘Sin’, and a blistering @March of the Pigs’ makes perfect sense, and though there’ll always be that NIN song any hour-and-a-half long set fails to include (‘The Perfect Drug’, anyone?), this is more than a testament to Mr Self Destruct’s gloriously rich back catalogue than anything else.

Reznor himself, brandishing a tambourine during ‘The Line Begins to Blur’, 40 years of age tomorrow and looking all the world like the offspring from an unholy tryst between Glenn Danzig and Henry Rollins, is on top form throughout; tonight’s real surprise, though, comes in the form of guitarist Aaron North, formerly of art-punk jokers The Icarus Line, who visibly injects a swathe of manic, pumped-up virtuosoenergy throughout – at one point soloing while balanced upside down on a speaker. By the time the ending triple-whammy of ‘Gave Up’, ‘The Hand That Feeds’, and ‘Head Like A Hole’ rush by, the whole house, including David Bowie and comedian Chris Rock are chanting away with Reznor like their souls depended on it. Wicked.

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