Nine Inch Nails: Infinite intensity
Nine Inch Nails took merely six months off from the road between the end of the I Can’t Seem to Wake Up 2017 Tour, and the launch of this year’s series of live dates in June at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Trent Reznor led the live version of his band on a three-night odyssey of back-catalog material for those concerts, during which he debuted his David Bowie-esque croon on “God Break Down the Door” from Nine Inch Nails’ latest album Bad Witch, and was joined by synth-pop visionary Gary Numan on the final evening for a cover of Numan’s “Metal.”
Numan’s guest appearance, with both he and Reznor sharing a keyboard at one point, was captured by director Brook Linder in starkly glorious black and white for a video that conveys the shadows-and-smoke minimalist aesthetic Reznor adopted for Nine Inch Nails’ Cold and Black and Infinite Tour, which kicked off in September with two dates in Phoenix. Reznor also released a clip from the Joint concerts for Bad Witch track “Ahead of Ourselves” (highlighted by touring member Ilan Rubin’s propulsive drumming) that effectively conveyed the kinetic intensity of Nine Inch Nails’ latest shows.
Reznor, who in 2016 announced his film-scoring collaborator Atticus Ross had become a full-time official member of Nine Inch Nails, evidently likes the Joint enough to return to the Hard Rock for two dates as part of the 2018 tour. The Jesus and Mary Chain is scheduled to open the shows, and although the band led by brothers William and Jim Reid was an influence on Reznor’s early musical directions—an embryonic Nine Inch Nails opened for Jesus and Mary Chain when Reznor was shaping the band’s live act—there has been no advance word on whether the Reids will join Reznor, Ross, Rubin, guitarist Robin Finck and keyboardist Alessandro Cortini onstage as Numan did.
Nine Inch Nails’ early live act developed in fits and starts, but by the time the band appeared at Lollapalooza in 1991, Reznor had found the right combination of musicians that breathed life into the industrial-influenced, synthesizer-based compositions from 1989 debut Head Like a Hole in a live setting. Like the music, Reznor as a performer was dark, defiant, aggressive and dangerous to himself and others. Nobody seems to get hurt nowadays, but as a live performer Reznor is in his prime. He and his bandmates have the energy and stamina to deliver inspired marathon concerts, therefore they do.
The no-frills, smoke-and-strobe set design allows Nine Inch Nails to prove itself via performance alone. Reznor has been working steadily creating music for films since he and Ross scored David Fincher’s The Social Network, for which they won a an Academy Award. (Their work can currently be heard in theaters in Jonah Hill’s coming-of-age comedy Mid90s, and will be featured next year in director Joe Wright’s The Woman in the Window and the HBO series Watchmen.) He makes no secret of his love for film scoring, so a Nine Inch Nail fan would have to have a head like a hole to not catch the band while they are reportedly delivering some of the best concerts in the band’s three-decade history.
Hard Rock Hotel, 8 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 1, starting at $79.50 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849 AXS