Nine Inch Nails Wraps Up Euro Tour
Wall Of Sound December 1999

LONDON - Trent Reznor, the acrid and passionate man who has inspired teenagers across the globe to dye their hair black and hate society, made a London crowd realize why it has been worth the five-year wait for Nine Inch Nails' new album The Fragile.

Backed by a live band and a cavalcade of keyboards on Wednesday night (Dec. 1), Reznor, clad all in black, confirmed his staying power to a similarly dressed maudlin audience, despite the gap between 1994's Downward Spiral and this year's double album.

The 22-song set was unexpectedly comprised mainly of old material, though the band opened up with a new one, "Somewhat Damaged," as well as "Terrible Lie" and "Sin" from its 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine. Songs from The Fragile were scattered, as if Reznor was uncharacteristically unsure of his new work, and elected to stick with older songs that were sure to keep the crowd happily moshing.

However, he had nothing to worry about. The selection of new songs, taken mostly from The Fragile's "Left Bank" disc, were some of his best works to date. "La Mer" and "The Great Below" in particular, accompanied by water images blasted onto a screen that dropped down over the stage, showed that Reznor has worked hard to fine-tune his rage over the past decade. Yet, "Starf--kers Inc.," which was included in the encore along with gut-wrenchers "Closer" and "Hurt," establishing Reznor's recently polished style, made it clear that he hasn't lost his trademark fury. Ironically, NIN didn't play its latest single, "We're in This Together," opting instead for "The Wretched," "The Frail," and Pretty Hate Machine favorites Down in It and Head Like a Hole to close out the hour-and-a-half pre-encore rampage.

Reznor's second London gig in several years, like his industrial beats, had more than one level of meaning and more than one purpose. Not only did he return with a more intricate musical product, but also made it clear that, at 34, he has mastered the art of the live performance. The light show, the smoke, and the fervor of his voice brought NIN's entire body of work to life. After a five-year fissure in the war between his mind and soul, Reznor's comeback made it clear: He is still hard rock's biggest anti-hero. Harriet Chinaski