Nine Inch Nails at Brixton Academy
Say what you like about Trent Reznor; the man is a genius. It is well documented that Reznor is Nine Inch Nails and the show he put on at the Brixton Academy on Thursday 14th July was a perfectly orchestrated operation, not a flaw in the band's performance all night.
All UK Nine Inch Nails fans will know that Trent rarely tours over here between albums, and I know its been about five years since their last album 'The Fragile' was released. This would explain why with the release of 'With Teeth' and the tour dates that accompanied it pretty much all sold out straight away.
Support on the night came from a young rap artist called Saul Williams. I'm not quite sure why a hip-hop artist was chosen to precede a band like Nine Inch Nails, but he did incredibly well under the circumstances. Apart from a few caveman-esque insults from the crowd, this was a man who portrayed himself as a very talented young artist, choosing to rap about poverty, war and race, rather than hos', bitches, and money. A very refreshing change and I predict massive fame for this guy in a year or so. The highlight of his act was when he was introducing a song about feeling isolated, and he turned and told the mostly Goth audience it was like 'when you take your black shirts off at the end of the day, you wish you were still black like I am'.
Still, as interesting as the support act was, I will not lie and say that I wasn't incredibly happy when Nine Inch Nails came on stage. Trent Reznor has a reputation of being a bit moody and depressed, but I could not see any such traits showing through in his performance. He looked like a Rock God, as psyched up as the crowd with an incredible amount of passion and energy. Every song was flawless, and the fans were delighted that he decided to perform mostly older tracks rather than just play through the entirety of 'With Teeth'. The hour and three quarter long set opened up with 'Wish' and ended on 'Head Like a Hole'.
Highlights of the night included the live version of 'Closer' and 'Sin' but nothing even came close to the performance of 'Hurt'. I don't care about people who say they prefer the Johnny Cash cover to the original, tonight this song rightfully belonged to Reznor, it was full of his passion and his pain. A pretty much solo performance, and a darkened stage, just a spotlight shone on Trent Reznor as he sang and played this beautifully haunting, twisted song, until the band came in on the last verse and just blew the entire audience away. There was not a single person who was not moved or singing along.
A man of few words, Trent Reznor barely spoke all night except to say 'thank you' and there was no encore, but do you know what? He didn't need one; the performance he gave was enough.