-It’s fucking hot up here!’ The arena at Treptow is a sea of wringing black t-shirts and Teutonic fever by the time Trent Reznor and band are half way through their set. It doesn’t let up one jot throughout a crisp and streamlined set that cherry picks from the frowning industrialist’s 21-year career. We use the singular when referring to Nine Inch Nails because that is what it essentially is. When you open the booklet of a NIN album, it will simply say -Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor’. Rock’s most charismatic glumster is director, producer and band where his recorded output is concerned. A dictatorship, you might yelp! Perhaps, but he dictates only to himself. And as such, Reznor has stated that this mammoth tour – dubbed the Wave Goodbye Tour – will be his last for the foreseeable future.
From the off, this decision proves to be at the expense of lovers of fine live rock music. Reznor hangs off the mic like Beth Gibbons, but is all over the stage at the same time, jumping from mic stand to sequencer to piano to guitar rack. His muscular voice and arms, and sleeveless vest give the impression of a hard-rock Bruce Springsteen, someone who has always directly spoken to his audience with nothing but sincerity while still being a consummate entertainer. And every consummate entertainer knows when to retreat to the background and let his band shine. Robin Finck’s bludgeoning riffs, such as -March Of The Pigs’ and David Bowie collaboration -I’m Afraid Of Americans’, are softened by Reznor’s pulses and samples. The sound and strobe lighting snaps about the huge metal beams of the former Eastern Bloc factory. You couldn’t design a more fitting venue. And despite some of the worst heckles I’ve heard – -guitar hero!’ or the incredibly unimaginative -Nine Inch Nails!’ – the Berlin audience scream approval at every interlude. Even ol’ Trent has to crack a smile at one point.
Nine Inch Nails play O2 Stage on Sunday night.