Reznor@ Belfast Belsonic 2013, Custom House Square, August 21 2013

And So I Watch You From Afar are one of those perfect supports for any big name rock act. The kind that gets the crowd fired up and ready for the main event without ever outdoing the headliners and stealing the show.

Over the last few years the Ulstermen have forged a reputation as one of Ireland’s finest rock bands due to their hard-hitting tunes and endless professionalism. 

This was never more evident than on Wednesday night as quartet flew through an incredible set, which finished in typical Northern Irish style – with an excited crowd and a heavy downpour.

As the rain made its appearance it revealed what a sorry sight rock and roll has become as a number of umbrellas started popping up. Pathetic and downright inconsiderate to your fellow rockers.

However, all was forgotten as the beast that is Trent Reznor appeared onstage alone, backed by a completely blank canvas and creating a shadow effect that  made this giant of a man look even bigger and more imposing than ever.

As the rest of the band came onstage in the classic NIN formation, the lights burst into life and Custom House Square came alive with Reznor dictating the crowd’s every move.

If NIN’s famous lights show was widely anticipated then such excitement was tempered by doubts about sound quality due to the Belsonic festival’s notorious reputation over the last few years. However, those concerns were quashed within the first minutes of the show, with the sound reaching every corner of the square.

It was later confirmed that Reznor had, in fact, brought his own sound team after refusing to use the tech support provided. This was the first time since the Belsonic came into being four years ago that any artist had chosen to bring in their own sound team. But what a decision it proved to be.

From the minute the first note blasted out of the speakers the Belfast crowd were mesmerised, jumping with arms in the air and singing along to favourites such as Came Back Haunted and Closer, making for a really warm and united atmosphere.

But despite being one of the biggest names in metal, even NIN struggled to keep the attention of the crowd as they played a number of tracks off new album Hesitation Marks, with many of the crowd using it as an opportunity to hit the bar or the toilets.

After almost two hours of music, without an encore, Reznor started into Hurt and watched a wave of silence spread amongst the crowd as they raised their lighters in appreciation for one of the finest tunes ever penned.

Adam Keys