New music or not, Nine Inch Nails are still commanding sold-out crowds at the Santa Barbara Bowl & beyond in 2022

Nine Inch NailsBy Josh Herwitt //

Nine Inch Nails with Yves Tumor //
Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA
September 13th, 2022 //

If there was ever a time in his long and illustrious career when Trent Reznor had seemingly little left to prove, it would be now.

After all, the 57-year-old Nine Inch Nails mastermind who formed the project more than three decades ago while working as an assistant engineer and janitor at Right Track Studios in Cleveland has racked up nearly every accolade for his music, from Grammys and Oscars to Emmys and even a CMA Award, with only a Tony standing in his way of EGOT status.

But aside from the latest two installments of the soundtrack-oriented Ghosts at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has already been a few years since NIN released new material after the six-track Bad Witch arrived in 2018 and the now-Hall of Fame band embarked upon its “Cold and Black and Infinite” tour across North America that concluded with Reznor and company playing a whopping six nights at the Hollywood Palladium with anything in the NIN catalog on the table thanks to a more stripped-down stage production of mostly smoke and lights the industrial-rock act is still currently showcasing.

So when NIN announced in February a limited number of dates for 2022, there was a sense among fans — or at least this one right here — that new music would be imminent at some point this year. Reznor, in fact, had actually hinted at the 2021 Academy Awards that there was more to come from NIN, though we have yet to hear any since then.

Nine Inch Nails

That certainly hasn’t mattered when it comes to NIN’s ticket sales, however. Outside of a few festival appearances that includes a headlining performance at Primavera Sound LA this Saturday, just about every show this year has been sold out and things were no different on Tuesday when Reznor’s outfit returned to the Santa Barbara Bowl for the first time since 2009.

The 4,562-seat amphitheater continues to be one of our favorite places in California — if not the entire country — to catch a concert, and despite the coastal city’s music scene being a bit more laidback than LA’s, you wouldn’t have known it by the time NIN stormed onstage shortly after Yves Tumor wrapped up his opening set.

With the outdoor venue’s strict 10 p.m. curfew always at play, there was no time to spare for Reznor, Atticus Ross, Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini and Ilan Rubin, and the five-piece made the most of its one-hour, 45-minute gig with deep cuts like “Last” and “Heresy” preceding setlist staples that featured “March of the Pigs”, “Piggy” and “Closer” from The Downward Spiral as well as “The Perfect Drug”, the 1997 cut on the “Lost Highway” soundtrack that only made its live debut in 2018 but has already been played 30 more times thanks to Rubin’s thunderous ambidexterity on the drum kit.

Of course, we would be remiss to not also mention the high energy of “Reptile” and a groovy cover of David Bowie’s haunting single “I’m Afraid of Americans” as other highlights before being punched in the mouth by the trifecta of “Gave Up”, “The Hand That Feeds” and “Head Like a Hole” leading into a brief encore break. Yet, it was the penultimate “Even Deeper” off The Fragile that truly put us on cloud nine for the rest of the evening and reminded us that with or without new songs, we’re all lucky to still have NIN filling our earholes after wondering eight years ago if we would ever see them perform live again.

NINE INCH NAILS

Setlist:
Mr. Self Destruct
Wish
Last
March of the Pigs
Piggy
The Lovers
The Frail
The Wretched
Reptile
God Break Down the Door
Copy of A
Closer (with “The Only Time” breakdown)
This Isn’t the Place
Heresy
The Perfect Drug
I’m Afraid of Americans (David Bowie cover)
Gave Up
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole

Encore:
Even Deeper (preceded by band introductions)
Hurt

YVES TUMOR

Setlist:
Jackie
Gospel for a New Century
Medicine Burn
Operator (with “Be Aggressive” chant)
Cntra
Kerosene!
Romanticist
Dream Palette
Mtora
…And Loyalty Is a Nuisance Child
Secrecy Is Incredibly Important to the Both of Them

Trackbacks

  1. […] are never ones to lack energy, we’re glad we caught their gig at the Santa Barbara Bowl (read our show review here) four days earlier for the chance to hear David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of […]

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