Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens

The show is angry, basic, mesmerising, and visually matched by three phallic video screens...

“This is another song about fucking,” sneers [a]Nine Inch Nails[/a]’ [a]Trent Reznor[/a], much to the approval of the 15,000 delirious fans gathered at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. As Reznor‘s band play the first few notes of ‘Closer’, even the pulverisingly-loud sound system can’t drown out the screams of the black-outfitted girls and boys, who occasionally forgot to sustain their vampire-esque demeanours.

Still, this is a far cry from being a Goth Street Boys concert (though much of this crowd were barely out of nappies when NIN‘s 1991 debut ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ was released). The night begins with a heavy, crowd-warming set by A Perfect Circle, featuring ex-Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan. This is followed by 20 minutes of disquieting intermission music (no doubt Reznor-penned) that segues right into NIN‘s onstage entrance. Clearly comfortable with his audience, Reznor roams the stage destructively, occasionally picking up a guitar or bass, and knocking over every mic stand, lighting unit and water bottle in his path (one can only hope the stage techies were paid well). Even bandmates are not immune, with Reznor‘s bassist getting tripped numerous times by an out-of-control cable.

With sounds that zero in on both the groin and middle ear, the band drive through many of their older standards – including ‘Terrible Lie’, ‘Head Like a Hole’ and ‘Get Down Make Love’. A furious ‘March Of The Pigs’ sends the crowd surfers wild, while the mellower ‘Hurt’ brings a brief period of respite. Overall, the show is angry, basic, mesmerising, and visually matched by three phallic video screens, flashing kaleidoscopic images at the overloaded, but incredibly enthusiastic audience.

“You’ve put me in a good mood, which doesn’t happen very often,” says Reznor, after coming out for encores. Ah, shucks. He probably says that to all the goth kids.