Nine Inch Nails
A Different Perspective
hit parader - June 2002

bye Ron Beaumont

  The appearance of any new musical offering from Nine Inch Nails is always big news in rock and roll circles. After all, NIN main man Trent Reznor easily ranks among the most enigmatic and unpredictable forces in the contemporary music world. The simple truth is that none of us ever really know what we’re gonna get from Mr. Reznor... or when we’re gonna get it. Years often pass between NIN album releases, and the unit’s infrequent tour dates inspire instant calendar circling from any true-blue rock aficionado. Perhaps the remaining “novelty” that surrounds NIN explains much of the focus that’s been placed on the band’s recent triple-pronged Nine Inch Nails Live: And All That Could Have Been releases. With the in-concert presentation emerging simultaneously in CD, DVD, AND VHS formats, it seems like the often reclusive Reznor has chosen to provide his ever-loyal minions with a special, and somewhat unexpected view into his incredible and always fascinating musical universe.
  “Trent enjoys the freedom that the various formats provide,” said a source at NIN’s record label. “The CD allows him to present the music in the purest form; he produced the disc and it captures so much of the band’s on-stage magic. The DVD/VHS, which Trent produced with Rob Sheridan directing, provides the true feeling of what a Nine Inch Nails concert was like along the Fragility v2.0 tour, It’s truly a special even.”   The fact is that every evening along the memorable Fragility v2.0 tour trail was a special even for the thousands of fans who packed arenas from coast to coast in order to get a rare glimpse of Reznor and his crew on stage. With the band presenting songs that ran the gamut of NIN’s decade-long career-from established classics like Head Like A Hole to recent faves such as The Wretched-each and every performance proved to be an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to attend the perpetually sold-out shows. Indeed, the concert series won countless industry plaudits, including being hailed as Y2K’s “Best Tour” by Rolling Stone magazine.
  Hit Parader’s own experience along the Fragility v2.0 tour trail was indicative of the excitement level that permeated every stop along the lengthy road trek. The night we attended the band’s eagerly anticipated Madison Square Garden performance in New York City, we were met with a crowd milling about outside the bustling mid-town arena two hours before show time. To say the least, it was an eclectic lot-one befitting the somewhat-away-from-the-mainstream aura that Reznor’s music projects. Some of those waiting fans were dressed to-the-max in “alternative” cool, taking on a casual appearance that one sensed was as studied deliberate as could be. Others looked like they had just stepped out of some underground sewer system, clad in beyond-faded jeans and strategically ripped T-shirts. And then there were those who had wandered by just to see what was going on with one of hard rock’s most notorious bands. They were dressed more like preppies on parade than any sort of metallic monsters.   Yet, despite all of their apparent differences, and despite the obvious divergence in their backgrounds, goals and financial status, all somehow seemed welcome and at home as they stood in line to witness the concert spectacle that NIN had planned for them. Maybe it was the fact that Nine Inch Nails had long-ago established themselves as such a potent live band. Maybe it was because of the air of mystery and intrigue that perpetually seems to cloak Reznor in each and every one of his endeavors. Or maybe it was just because that night’s show was the unquestioned “in” place to be. Whatever the reason, long before show time the concert’s surrounding environs were certainly a bee-hive of activity.
  On near-by street corners bootleg T-shirt vendors were doing a brisk business, selling the wares for $12 each-less than half of what similar products were costing inside the arena. Everywhere one looked, scalpers patrolled, flashing their hand-full of prized ducats and shouting out the universally understood two word battle cry. “who needs?” Cops milled around, seemingly oblivious to the sundry “illegal” activities taking place practically under their noses. They were there for “crowd-control” according to the sergeant in charge, though this crowd seemed to be in little need of control. They were loud, they were boisterous, they were even a little obnoxious, but they were orderly.   Inside the arena, Reznor was oblivious to the activity going on in the streets surrounding him. NIN’s main man seemed wrapped in a world all his own, quietly sitting in his dressing room getting himself psyched for that evening’s show. Since first emerging on the rock scene in the early ‘90s, Nine Inch Nails has garnered a well-deserved reputation as one of rock’s most dynamic-and unpredictable-concert attractions, and Reznor know that for the next two hours thousands of eyes were gonna by watching his every move.
  ”That tour really helped to establish Nine Inch Nails as one of the most exciting bands in the world,” a NIN spokesperson explained. “So many more people realized what a great band this is. That was also a very historic tour for them in many ways. Before it, there was a strong core following who appreciated them, but the masses needed to be educated. All of a sudden millions of people know who Nine Inch Nails were. That tour really helped make their most recent album, The Fragile, such a success.”   When Reznor’s rock warriors finally did appear on stage (nearly an hour after the opening act had completed their set) Nine Inch Nails went right to work. Kicking off the evening’s proceedings with Terrible Lie, and then quickly tearing through the likes of Sing, March of the Pigs, and Wish, the set was lean, stark and powerful display of pure musical brilliance. Relying on keyboards and prerecorded computer-generated tracks-as well as on the tight musicianship of the band that surrounded him-Reznor enthralled the house with his sinewy stage moves and gut-wrenching vocals. Songs such as Closer and La Mer created an intense and electrically-charge performance. For over 90 minutes Reznor had the packed throng eating out of the palm of his hand, and they seemed only too happy to worship at the Temple of Trent.
  ”That was the greatest show I’ve ever seen,” one sweat-drenched fan said as he exited the arena at show’s end. “I’ve seen ‘em all; Metallica, Manson, Ozzy, you name ‘em, I’ve been there. Nobody else can create the kind of feelings that Nine Inch Nails can. I’m honored to be here, that’s how strong I feel about this band. I pity anyone who doesn’t get the chance to see ‘em live.”