By Scott Iwasaki, Deseret Morning News

Multi-instrumentalist Trent Reznor, rock 'n' roll's angry young man and the soul of Nine Inch Nails brought his rage along with his touring band to the E Center Thursday.

Guitarist Aaron North, keyboardist Alessandro Cortini, bassist Jeordie White and guest drummer Josh Freese backed up Reznor (NIN's regular touring drummer Jerome Dillon was taking some time off due to a heart condition discovered early in the tour).

Although the concert actually began at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m., which was printed on the tickets, the fans didn't seem to mind. Autolux and Queens of the Stone Age did their part to warm up the crowd for the industrial-laced metal of NIN.

Reznor looks older with short-cropped hair. But he proved throughout the night that he hasn't lost any of his brooding angst.

The set opened with the instrumental "Pinion" before launching into "Love Is Not Enough," from the new album "With Teeth." At first, the band performed behind a sheer scrim, which brought to mind a scene from some foggy gothic nightmare.

"You Know What You Are" was next as an array of stage lights assaulted the band members. "The Line Begins to Blur" was cranked out before the classic "March of the Pigs" (from "Downward Spiral").

North's frenzied guitar leads complemented his stage presence as he raced back and forth across the platform. Keeping the lower sounds was White known to Marilyn Manson fans as Twiggy Ramirez. And Cortini added the techno flairs with his keyboard runs, while Freese kept time with his syncopated riffs and rhythms.

Older works, such as the heave-ho beat of "Terrible Lie" and the frantic rants of "Gave Up" (both from the release "Broken") had the audience screaming in unison. A rare tune, "Burn" (from the "Natural Born Killers" soundtrack), was a nice surprise, as was the dark instrumental "Eraser."

Reznor toned things down a bit with the piano interlude "The Fragile," before the band joined him in the slow crawl of "The Wretched" (from the album "The Fragile").

The scrim lowered for some projected nature and war scenes during "Right Where It Belongs" and rose for another vintage work, "Wish."

"Sin," "Only" and "Closer" were other highlights of the night. And when Reznor took on the dirgelike keyboard cut "Hurt," the audience sang along

The show finished nicely with "Hand That Feeds," "Star(suckers), Inc." and, of course, "Head Like a Hole" (the first single from 1989's "Pretty Hate Machine").


WEST VALLEY CITY - Nine Inch Nails arrived at the E Center on Tuesday for its first Utah appearance in five years on a tour dogged by questions.

Would band leader Trent Reznor deliver the type of explosive performance he is known for while leading a newly sober, buffed-out lifestyle? More importantly, are the people who helped turn Reznor's blend of rock, electronic and Gothic elements into platinum-selling, mainstream music still interested?

The answers, in short: Reznor was an animated and emotive front man, and the fans filling about half of the E Center were a responsive bunch, if not the biggest crowd of the tour.

Reznor and company opened with three straight songs from the new "With Teeth" album, a move that threatened the show's momentum at first. But strong versions of "Love Is Not Enough," "You Know What You Are?" and "The Line Begins to Blur" kept the energy high until the band reached more familiar territory in the set list.

The one-two punch of Nine Inch Nails' staples, "March of the Pigs" and "Terrible Lie" was a thrilling reminder of the power the band evoked as far back as 15 years ago.

"The Wretched" and "Closer," one of the most sexually direct songs ever to hit the Top 40, led into the second portion of the show. "Burn," from the "Natural Born Killers" soundtrack Reznor produced, was a moody centerpiece of the show, moving from cool electronica to straight-forward metal-bashing.

The intricate imagery on the video screens enhanced the stylistic changes of the music, whether it was the bright lights during "Wish" and a hypnotic "Thin" or the computer-graphic background during the throbbing "Only."

"Hurt," the song from "The Downward Spiral" album that took on a new life when Johnny Cash recorded it shortly before his death, was a lighter-fueled singalong near show's end, with Reznor performing the song solo on a keyboard until the band joined him for a majestic ending.

Utah was drummer Josh Freese's first show of the tour after Jerome Dillon dropped off because of health reasons, and Nine Inch Nails didn't seem to miss a beat.

The band's combination of pure aggression and avant garde artistic moves carried the show through its amped-up finale, "Head Like Hole."