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Concert Reviews:
Nine Inch Nails finishes Fox Theatre run with explosive second show

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018

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DETROIT -- "It's nice to be back," Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor told the Fox Theatre crowd early during the group's show Tuesday night, Oct. 23 -- not that it had been a long time.

All of 24 hours, in fact.

Reznor and company dropped into the Fox this week during its Cold and Black and Infinite North American 2018 tour, a series of two-nighters in each of the cities its visited. Besides the fact that NIN's performances, as usual, are among the most explosive you'll find anywhere on the road, the troupe also promised vastly different shows from night to night -- and delivered in Detroit, where Tuesday's 95-minute show repeated just two songs from Monday's setlist.

That, of course, speaks to the depth of Reznor's NIN catalog after nearly 30 years of influential, industrial-flavored rock -- as well as Academy Awards with composing partner and sound stylist Atticus Ross -- as well as a willingness to dig deep into that oeuvre. Tuesday's 19-song set, fittingly, drew from 10 of NIN's recordings, along with "Burn" from the "Natural Born Killers" soundtrack Reznor produced back in 1994. It was more than enough to keep the Fox crowd -- including many returnees from the first night -- on its feet from the frenetic pairing of "Branches/Bones" and "Mr. Self Destruct" all the way through to the hushed, melancholic "Hurt" that closed the show.

And in between were plenty of highlights, especially for the NIN die-hards. With Reznor and his black-clad bandmates -- including longtime guitarist and visual foil Robin Finck -- bathed in smoke, strobes and light washes of pinks and greens, NIN seldom took its foot of the pedal as it powered through the likes of "Letting You," "Piggy," "Burn," a particularly ferocious "Happiness in Slavery" and the cool, synthetic roll of "Copy of A." Reznor, coiled and cryptic as usual, introduced David Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans" as "frighteningly appropriate these days," and the group of songs that followed -- "The Background World," "The Great Destroyer," "Burning Bright (Field on Fire)" and "Survivalism" -- not to subtly amplified that theme.

Those looking for "hits" got 'em at the end of the main set, as a pulsing "The Hand That Feeds" led into the anthemic "Head Like a Hole," while the encore offered a brief bit of light in the melodic "All the Love in the World" before diving back into the stock-in-trade angst of "Even Deeper" and "Hurt." "It's a privilege for us," Reznor said by way of thanks for the Fox turnout. "I'm just grateful we can come out and scream at you guys for awhile. Thank you for the opportunity."

And Reznor can probably rest assured that, as far as anyone at the two shows is concerned, he's welcome to do that any time he'd like.

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