Back in 2009, Nine Inch Nail while performing to a sell-out crowd in London were joined by Gray Numan for a very special performance of Numan’s iconic song ‘Cars’. The footage below shows the power of the two entwining performers.
Though the industrial metal forefathers Nine Inch Nails were joined by Numan in the spotlight on a few dates at the end of the Wave Goodbye Tour, the artists had actually been connected before. In 2000, as part of Nine Inch Nails’ remix album Things Falling Apart Trent Reznor and co. opted to cover Numan’s own song ‘Metal’ to a devastatingly poignant effect.
It is this relationship between Reznor and Numan which we find the most interesting. Though Numan is often noted as the pioneer of synthpop following his breakthrough in the late seventies with his album The Pleasure Principle, it was his turn toward the more industrial sound of his later work which linked him with Trent. While Trent would often talk about the influence Numan and his seminal album had on his desires to form a band and how they should sound.
Numan speaks candidly in this interview about his first connection with Trent Reznor and the reciprocated appreciation they have, and it is a fascinating read: “When I first saw the now-famous Nine Inch Nails show at Woodstock on television in 1994, I understood immediately that Trent Reznor had a similar approach to performance as I did.”
He added: “The image is, of course, well known: Trent Reznor standing on stage, covered from head to toe in mud. But the gig it’s taken from manages to surpass even that. It was such an aggressive and powerful performance; perhaps the greatest performance I have ever seen.”
He continued: “When I heard Nine Inch Nails in 1994, it was as if they were realizing the potential of whatever tiny ideas I originally had, except Reznor seemed to take these ideas so much further, sculpting them into a huge, professional sounding onslaught. This was the grown-up version to my naive experimentalism. Years later, a friend of mine named Alan Moulder, who was a producer of many of the big Nine Inch Nails albums, told me that when they were working on The Downward Spiral, Trent was listening to my 1980 album Telekon every morning on the way to the studio. I was blown away.
“Then, in 2009, Trent invited me onstage with them in London when they were doing their last British show as Nine Inch Nails. When he introduced me, he talked about how he listened to The Pleasure Principle at the very beginning of the band’s genesis when he was trying to shape their sound. To find out that you’ve had a meaningful influence on a band that you’ve admired so much for such a long time—that’s an amazing experience that you can’t replicate.”
The undeniable friendship and creative appreciation are so evidently clear in this clip. It shows a band paying homage to one of their major influences while he shows his own admiration for a band which reignite dhis love of music.
So, take a breath, and watch Nine Inch Nails perform Gary Numan’s iconic track ‘Cars’ below form 2009