Live Music + Gig Reviews

Nine Inch Nails @ Brixton Academy, London

11 March 2007

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor has been consistently delivering slabs of top notch, anti-optimistic melodies for well over a decade. Somewhat understandable it is then, his annoyance that having managed to finally shake off the plague of journalists asking him about Marilyn Manson to the detriment of Nine Inch Nails‘ latest release, he now has to fight off the relentless barrage of Johnny Cash related interrogation from the rock press.

Stupefying is the sense of irony that a 40-foot billboard opposite the venue bears the man in black’s countenance, smiling down upon the ex-Goths and NME faithful as they file into the Brixton Academy.

Meanwhile inside a packed venue, experience tells me that if I haven’t heard of a support act and they subsequently fail to win me over within a couple of numbers, the best place to head is the bar. It is however, with a sense of bemusement that I stay for the entirety of Ladytron‘s set, secretly waiting for a rabid hardcore of Nine Inch Nails supporters to begin throwing insults stage-ward.

Not only is my waiting in vain, I seem to be the only individual present who is not entertained by a sextet who produce a brand of electronica dull enough to send even C-3P0 to sleep, but then again, the beer is rubbish here too.

The lack of delectable refreshments is the last thing on my mind however, as Nine Inch Nails strike into Terrible Lie, the first of many tracks from 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine to be played tonight, with the impact of each being stunning. From the note perfect wailings of Reznor to the trunk like solidity of Josh Freese’s drumming, within their first song, it is clear why this band can sell out a five night run at a venue this size.

The spitting fury of Know What You Are sends the packed crowd wild, while Sin provokes the first mass anthem sing along of the evening, with suitably rousing results. It is at this point, that an interesting notion occurs to me: Mr Reznor could well find himself in hot water, if parliament finally passes a law forbidding ‘incitement to religious hatred.’

Screaming his disapproval of God, Christianity or indeed ‘any institution he’s had a negative experience of and likes to write angry songs about’ has provided this man with lyrical inspiration for years. In fact, Nine Inch Nails might just be the only rock band you would ever catch Richard Dawkins blasting from his study.

Having supplemented the spiteful verses of Sin with the rage filled Heresy, the mood is swiftly altered for a haunting solo version of Fragile, later followed in identical style by the beautiful Hurt. Picking up the pace again for the final numbers, The Hand That Feeds is a brilliantly empowering rebel jam, and stands next to Head Like A Hole as a perfect example of how timeless and simultaneously relevant Nine Inch Nails music has been, and will continue to be.

As the ‘viral marketing’ campaign for the upcoming album Year Zero continues to develop at this evening’s show – USB sticks containing ‘leaked’ samples are planted in the loos and flyers directing fans to concept billboards across the city and concept web pages which reveal more about his latest concept album – Trent Reznor is striving to prove that with teeth or otherwise, his music still has bite.

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