GIG REVIEW: Nine Inch Nails @ Belsonic, Custom House Square, Belfast
This was the first time goth-techno industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails have performed in Belfast despite a lengthy career for frontman Trent Reznor and his instrumentalists whose first album Pretty Hate Machine appeared in 1989. Since then a slew of awards including Grammys have been lavished on the darkly-creative American music producer, the de facto godfather of often doom-laden and politically charged industrial angst and a genius at building miasma, foreboding and tension in his work.
Custom House Square was packed out on Wednesday evening for this seismic Belsonic performance in what was a real coup for the local music scene. Reznor, looking muscular and intense in a black T-shirt, played a largely crowd-pleasing mix of well known offerings of avant garde musical rage incorporating elements of electronica and metal to create a superbly layered sonic assault. Material from The Downward Spiral (1994), The Fragile (1999) and With Teeth (2005), and storming performances of The Wretched, Only, Head Like a Hole, March of the Pigs and Closer had the crowds going crazy before the band segued into a track from forthcoming album Hesitation Marks - a move into more mellow territory (Reznor is now a 48-year-old father of two whose days of debauchery are long past).
Reznor finished an energetically hell-raising set with a moving rendition of Hurt, a song with a raw emotional honesty that was brilliantly affecting.