With one of his major influences opening and even joining him onstage, Trent Reznor, leader of the proto-cyber punk band Nine Inch Nails, blasted through a 26-song set with high-octane exuberance.
Sharing the bill with electro-pioneer Gary Numan, who joined Reznor for “Reptile,” from NIN’s 1994 album The Downward Spiral, Reznor enthralled the audience in the nearly-sold out Amway Center show, one of two Florida dates on the band’s first tour since 2009.
The five-piece industrial act performed beneath a canopy of three-dimensional lights cycling between red and blue hues, and tore through staccato-pounded performances of material off Hesitation Marks (NIN’s eighth and latest studio album, out this August); “Copy of A,” which kicked things off as each of the band members were individually illuminated by a shower of white light, “All Time Low,” “Disappointed” and the solemn “Various Methods of Escape,” its stripped-down beginning featuring just Reznor and piano. NIN also swept through “1,000,000” from 2008’s The Slip and the menacing “Terrible Lie” off 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine , Reznor bouncing back and forth from one side of the stage to the other and occasionally joined by two female vocalists for additional back-up on tracks like the high-octane “March of the Pigs,” another Downward Spiral cut. The set concluded with the metal-accepted-industrial “Head Like A Hole,” which prompted a seemingly choreographed wave/salute by thousands upon thousands of arms.
The seven-song "encore" included “The Day the World Went Away,” “Reptile,” “Even Deeper,” “Hurt” (with Reznor raw at the piano), and a somewhat surprising cover of Gary Numan’s dance funk-influenced 1982 track “We Take Mystery (To Bed),” which found Numan returning to provide guest vocals.
At 48 years old, Reznor still exudes the encumbered angst of his youth, and is still fully capable of building a strong rapport with his mostly 30- and 40-something fans. By the night’s end, NIN had them in its machine.