NINE INCH NAILS with QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 at the Air Canada Centre, November 10. Tickets: $48.75-$58.75. Attendance: 15,000. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Man, it must really suck to be Trent Reznor . I mean, the guy looks like he's been living in a perpetual state of pain and anguish for, like, the last 15 years.
So you can imagine how much of a sob-fest the show would have been if it weren't for local noise-assault-duo-cum-international-rock-stars DFA 1979 , who were prepared to counter all Reznor's lamentations with a much-needed dose of loud, sweaty fun.
And you know what? Even in the cavernous ACC , DFA confidently brought the rock by bashing through most of their debut, You're A Woman, I'm A Machine, with more energy than most bands with five members could muster.
In keeping with that spirit, Queens of the Stone Age dropped their ode to irresponsible behaviour, opener Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, with its refrain "Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol," giving singer Josh Homme an opportunity to rip the ACC for making the night a dry show. The lack of booze didn't stop Homme from flattering the pants off the crowd in between a set of fan favourites by declaring Toronto one of the most partying cities in the world.
With their closer, No One Knows, the Queens again showed their ability to jump in and out of improvisation mode.
After a long and beerless intermission, the king of pain himself and his current live band made it onto a stage obscured by translucent curtains. It's funny, but it was like déjá vu when the lights went out and they launched into Pinion, cuz that was exactly what they did more than a decade ago.
In fact, with the exception of some newer songs that came after Reznor's benchmark The Downward Spiral, this was essentially the same performance just over 10 years later, with an older and slightly fatter lead singer.
Not to say that that's an entirely bad thing. Reznor, though predictable, puts on an incredible and emotionally draining show. Frankly, I don't know how he does it without wanting to hurl himself off a cliff after singing the ominous and miserable Something I Can Never Have, which also managed to inspire a sea of outstretched lighters.
Campy fan worship aside, the band tore competently through a set of greatest hits, including Terrible Lie and old-school strip club anthem Closer, while keeping the newer stuff to a minimum.
They weren't much to look at: the bass player had about as much stage presence as an Interpol band reject and the guitarist, when not jumping around like a pixie, looked like he was trying to strangle his instrument.
But a NIN show isn't about the backing band. It's about Reznor belting out his gloomy tunes, and an unbelievable light show complete with some pretty Matrix-inspired effects and the obligatory but strangely moving projection show during a particularly jarring version of Eraser.
He might not be innovating these days, but Reznor can still hold centre stage for two hours, and judging by how hard he worked, the man's still got the passion and edge that won him so many fans in the first place.