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If we never see Nine Inch Nails live again, it’s been quite a ride

Nine Inch NailsPhotos by Rob Sheridan for NIN.com // Written by Josh Herwitt //

When Trent Reznor told Nine Inch Nails fans six years ago that it was “time to make NIN disappear for a while,” no one knew if they would ever have the opportunity to see the industrial rock goliath perform again.

As someone whose musical palette was heavily influenced by such 90’s masterpieces as The Downward Spiral and The Fragile — two albums that will likely go down as some of the best rock music that’s ever been made — but never got to see NIN live, it came as a shocking blow to my psyche.

For me, NIN was always that band whose music felt uniquely original and accessible, yet remained frighteningly dark in image. More than 20 years ago, it was MTV that was forced to significantly censor the music video for “Closer” — still NIN’s most popular song to this day — in which Reznor combined themes of religion, sex, animal cruelty, politics and terror to go along with his disturbingly eerie lyric “I want to fuck you like an animal.”

Still, for as creepy as Reznor made himself appear — and there may be no better example than NIN’s epic performance at Woodstock ’94, which was officially released online almost two weeks ago — there is no band that has bridged the gap between heavy metal and electronic music better than NIN. From his early days as a sound engineer to his passion for analog synthesizers and digital technologies more recently, Reznor created a genre of music that few have ever come close to emulating. While other industrial acts like Ministry, MDFMK, Killing Joke, Filter and Rammstein achieved moderate levels of success at one point in time, none of them ever garnered the same mainstream appeal that NIN has sustained for more than two decades.

Nine Inch Nails

But even with two Grammy Awards and nine full-length albums to his name, Reznor has had his doubts about keeping NIN going. It’s why he announced in early 2009 that the band would be done performing live “for the foreseeable future” before embarking on its “Wave Goodbye” tour, which culminated in a 37-song show at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, before that fire was eventually rekindled with the release of 2013’s Hesitation Marks last September.

It’s not that Reznor fell off the face of the Earth during that five-year layoff, though. With NIN on an indefinite hiatus, he went on to win an Oscar and a Grammy for his soundtracks to The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, write the theme music for the video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” and form the post-industrial outfit How to Destroy Angels with his wife and lead vocalist Mariqueen Maandig, whom he shares two children with now. Over the last two months, he’s managed to find the time to finish composing the soundtrack for David Fincher’s upcoming movie Gone Girl while touring North America with his NIN sidekicks for quite possibly the last time.

After all, from what he told the crowd last Thursday night in Chula Vista, Calif., Reznor has no plans for another NIN album or tour right now. Even if he continues writing music like he told us he would that evening, just miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, there is no guarantee it will be for NIN. And at this point, it would be completely understandable for Reznor to retire the band he once gave birth to 26 years ago in Cleveland, where it will likely return to some day for its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Reznor, of course, isn’t getting any younger. At the age of 49, the NIN mastermind and only official member of the band has battled plenty of inner demons in his younger life, having overcome both drug and alcohol addictions, depression, social anxiety disorder and sadly, even his own suicidal tendencies. Now as a sober family man, he has openly admitted that the rigors of touring have taken their toll on him.



So, if this was the last time I ever got to see Nine Inch Nails perform live, I have no regrets attending four of the 26 shows that they are co-headlining with Soundgarden this summer.

In fact, seeing one of my favorite bands of all time at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre was an absolute dream come true — a show that no doubt will go down in memory as one of the best I have ever witnessed in all my concert-going years. Then, there was Monday night’s noteworthy performance at the Hollywood Bowl, which marked another important moment for the band in playing the historic LA amphitheater for just the second time ever, with the first coming almost nine years ago following the release of 2005’s With Teeth.

Sure, seeing four shows (Red Rocks, Chula Vista, Irvine and Hollywood) on this tour might seem like overkill to some. For me, it felt like the right thing to do. It didn’t matter that the setlists have varied little from show to show over the last month. Instead, just having the chance to connect with the music and art that Reznor specifically curates for each NIN tour more than once is something I will always cherish, whether or not I ever get to do it again.

Because even if I don’t, I’ll know that those four shows I saw were worth every penny spent.

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

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Comments

  1. Oh, they’ll be back. Bigger and better than ever! Just wait and see!

  2. I have seen them with_teeth, Y34R Z3r0,wave~goodbye, a small show at bowery ballroom, and finally Hesitation Marks. Each show was individualistic and amazing choreographed, composed, and performed. Yet I will be sad to never see them again. Reznor and Co. got me through a lot of dark times. So I will forever be indebted to Trent for that. Thank you sir. In my opinion there has been no greater innovation in sound and music in the past 20 years than the work of Trent Reznor.

  3. Trent made no mention at the Atlanta show that this might be his last tour. However a friend of mine that was at the Vegas show mentioned to me that Trent said this might be his last tour. I am glad I did get to see them since this was possibly the last time I ever will.

  4. Reblogged this on pgoeltz.

Trackbacks

  1. Nutriberry Slim

    If we never see Nine Inch Nails live again, it’s been quite a ride – Showbams

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