Nine Inch Nails was pure fire during the band’s first of six sold-out shows at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles Friday night. The industrial rock group, fearlessly led by consummate performer Trent Reznor, was mighty from start to finish, coming out on time (9:45 p.m.) and straight away with thick fog, intense strobe lighting and rapid fire blasts of music that transitioned into “Mr. Self Destruct.”
For a man who was so dark, mysterious and who didn’t at all expect to live through 1994’s appropriately titled “The Downward Spiral,” Reznor, now 53, has gone on to be one of the most dynamic frontmen in rock music. He’s unafraid of experimentation and ferociously goes straight for the jugular with both the music and lyrical content. The band typically plays arenas or outdoor amphitheaters when it comes to town, however it opted to play the cozy into the 5,000-capacity Palladium for the series of six more intimate experiences while out on its Cold and Black and Infinite Tour in support of its latest six-song release, “Bad Witch.”
The smaller setting must have been of comfort to Reznor, who talked more from the stage than ever before. He played saxophone during NIN’s latest single, “God Break Down the Door” and though he’s notoriously a very stoic figure, the crowd caught quite a few glimpses of Reznor’s wide smile during the 21-song set.
Though NIN packed itself onto a tinier stage, the band brought a good amount of production. The lighting was insane. The signs were posted on the venue doors with warnings about the use of strobe and laser lights and they were not joking around as each light setup paired well with the vibe and intensity of each and every song.
Of course the band delivered on the classics — “Head Like a Hole,” “The Hand That Feeds” and “Closer” — but the L.A. crowd was treated to a trio of songs mid-set courtesy of Reznor’s side project How to Destroy Angels, which includes Reznor’s wife and fellow L.A.-area vocalist Mariqueen Maandig. As if NIN wasn’t moody enough, the trio of HTDA songs — “Parasite,” “Welcome to Oblivion” and “A Drowning” — just drenched the venue with musical heaviness.
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Reznor seemed to be relishing every second of the set as he bounced back and forth between instruments and getting a death grip on the mic stand as he passionately belted out his songs. “Reptile” was a highlight with all of its trudging heaviness and “Copy of A” was set to some cool stop motion-like shadow projections on the simple stage backdrop.
“All of these shows, we don’t take for granted,” Reznor said to the crowd during the three-song encore. “In the past, we couldn’t wait for it to be over … but that’s not how it is anymore. That feels good, man, thank you for sticking around. I really appreciate it.”
NIN closed the evening with “Home” from 2005’s “With Teeth,” 2002’s album title track “And All That Could Have Been” and helped the audience calm themselves after a pumped up set by ending with a somber sing-along of “Hurt.”
For this particular jaunt, Reznor chose the reunited The Jesus and Mary Chain as his opening act. Fans definitely witnessed something special with The Jesus and Mary Chain as the group sounded great and put on a spectacular show with a set that included “Just Like Honey,” “Head On,” “Amputation” and the dizzily distorted “In a Hole.” Ahead of the crushing delivery of “Reverence,” vocalist Jim Reid took a moment to thank the crowd and NIN for the hospitality, and to pay a quick tribute to Buzzcocks vocalist Pete Shelley, who died earlier this week at the age of 63.
Death in Vegas opened the show on Dec. 7 and will also perform on Dec. 8. HMLTD will open the shows on Dec. 11-12 and Soft Moon will open Dec. 14 and 15.
Nine Inch Nails: Cold And Black And Infinite Tour
With: The Jesus and Mary Chain and Death in Vegas
When: Friday, Dec. 7
Where: Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles
Also: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, Tuesday, Dec. 11, Wednesday, Dec. 12, Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15 at Hollywood Palladium, 6215 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets are sold out, however they can be found via secondary sellers starting at $95 at StubHub.com and $103 at VividSeats.com.
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