Some bands are made to play small dingy clubs, others are meant to fill arenas. While I’m sure Nine Inch Nails would destroy your average club, their set at the Glasgow Hydro shows that they are very much in the later camp. It was hardly a surprise to see Trent Reznor return to the Nine Inch Nails model, after taking several years out on hiatus during which he won an Oscar, but the return of the band that made the man was still greeted with joy by fans. Nine Inch Nails are a band that transcend genres, being as equally loved by fans of Joy Division and Depeche Mode as they are fans of Slayer and Black Flag.
Trent himself is a man of few words but that doesn’t really matter as he commands the stage like few others, whether it be the pop filled strains of new track “Copy of A” or the punk rock fury of “March of the Pigs”, Trent comes across 1 part mad scientist and 1 part rock god, at one point even throwing the microphone into the crowd to allow them to take over vocal duties. Behind him the light show is as spectacular as you would expect with video screens, lasers and everything else you can think of thrown in on top. You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for drummer Ilan Rubin, who spends quite a lot of the time either hidden behind a curtain or the aforementioned videos screens, before being let out on the more rock numbers, but in reality it’s just confirmation for those who haven’t yet figured it out. This is Trent Reznor’s band and his alone.
With their latest album seeing NIN incorporating a more melancholic edge to their sound, it is interesting to see just how these songs sit on the live stage. Yet it quickly becomes clear there was no call to worry. The likes of “Copy of A” and “Find My Way” serve as stripped back breaks between the all out fury of some of the older material and Trent’s own faith in the record is suggested by the inclusion of as many as four tracks from Hesitation Marks already making their way onto the set list. It’s a fact worth mentioning since this is very much NIN playing the hits. It’s no secret that Trent is prone to throwing the toys out the pram and serving audiences 2 hours of B sides and slower material, but there is none of that tonight. Everything you could wish to hear from “Closer” to “Piggy” all the way through “The Great Destroyer” is reeled out and it serves as a reminder to just how good this band are.
As they close off the main set with a thunderous “Head Like a Hole” before emerging for an encore of “The Day the World Went Away” and the always spine tingling “Hurt”, you can’t help but feel when Nine Inch Nails are on form and playing the game, they are the perfect arena rock band. They have the songs, they have the show and in Trent Reznor they have a front man who you can’t help but want to be.