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Concert Reviews:
nine inch nails delivers a memorable spectacle at The Palace

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

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AUBURN HILLS -- Joking about his past substance abuse habits during the encore of nine inch nails' concert Monday night, Oct. 7, at The Palace, Trent Reznor commented that "we've played Detorit many times. The first 30 times I have no memory of, but I was vauguely told it was fun."

Rest assured those at Monday's show will remember it well, however -- probably for years to come.

A take-no-prisoners live act since it began touring in 1989, nin has habitually been on the inventive tip of visual presentation, and that's no different on its return to the road following a four-year hiatus during which Reznor worked on award-winning film soundtracks and briefly worked with another band, How to Destroy Angels. Monday's two-hour show, promoting the new nin album "Hesitation Marks," was a triumph, a characteristic multi-sensory onslaught during which an energetic Reznor leadg a mostly new set of players -- including world-class bassist Pino Palladino and longtime Rolling Stones backing vocalist Lisa Fischer -- through an intensive sampling of his nin catalog.

nin shows, of course, are often as much about what you see as what you hear, and Monday's certainly delivered in that regard. Mobile banks of lights and screens both in front of and behind the band provided a differnet look for each of the 25 songs, from start black-and-white settings to rich, colorful depths of field. The night's highlight actually came early, during "Disappointed," with an array of effects that ranged from liquidy washes to swirling geometric shapes that drew the same kind of ovations as an instrumentalist's solo.

To Reznor and nin's credit, however, the music was never eclipsed by those visuals. The group started with the trancey, synthesized vibe of "Hesitation Mark's" "Copy of A" before launching in to the muscular rock of "1,000,000" and the sinewy industrial stomp of "Terrible Lie." Dark as they may be, nin's songs are also meant to dance to, and the group kept the shockingly small but exuberant Palace crowd moving to the charged, taut grooves of "Came Back Haunted," the jungle-flavored "Running," "Wish," "Only," "The Hand That Feeds" and "Head Like a Hole," as well as the brash, punky flavors of "March of the Pigs" and "Survivalism."

The solemn, tortured "Hurt," accompanied by another striking group of visuals, closed the night on a quiet note and certainly left those at The Palace hoping they won't have to wait long to enjoy another "Downward Spiral" with Reznor and his crew.

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