Live Review: Nine Inch Nails at The Joint

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There are certain bands that I will always go see no matter how many times I’ve seen them live. Nine Inch Nails is atop that list and I’ve now seen them 17 times. Each time has been it’s own experience which makes all the shows that much more unique. This past weekend I had the pleasure to see my favorite band at The Joint in Las Vegas and it was just as epic as you would think it was. Trent and company would be performing on 3 different dates and I was lucky enough to be at 2 of the 3. I have to say I’m pretty sure I was at the best shows of the weekend.


Friday night was the first night I attended and it didn’t disappoint one bit. From the moment the band took the stage and launched into the tone setting Branches/Bones from the Not The Actual Events EP, all those in attendance knew that this show was going to be unrelenting. When you have a catalog as extensive and dense as Nine Inch Nails it’s definitely interesting to see what is played live. Classic songs like “Wish,” “Sanctified,” “March Of The Pigs,” “The Frail/The Wretched,” “Piggy,” “The Hand That Feeds,” and “Head Like A Hole” are all killer and live staples. This night though, those songs were played with an energy that I haven’t seen since 2009. The other new songs played “Less Than” and “The Background World” from the Add Violence EP sounded great and really fit in with the rest of the set. One of the real highlights of the set was the inclusion of “Burning Bright (Field On Fire)” from the Not The Actual Events EP. Both that song and Branches had a live sound that could have been straight out of 1994 and The Downward Spiral era. They even pulled out a David Bowie cover for the evening to pay tribute to him by playing “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” which was outstanding. It seemed that this evening was all about the force that Nine Inch Nails is all about live.

Saturday night brought a different vibe one that could be thought of as a bit of an experiment. Along with the live staples of “Terrible Lie” and “March Of The Pigs,” Trent pulled out some great songs that don’t usually get that much play like, “Somewhat Damaged,” “The Day The World Went Away,” “The Big Come Down” and “Reptile.” On top of that they revisited a handful of songs from the very underrated Year Zero and those songs like “The Great Destroyer,” “The Good Soldier,” and “Me, I’m Not,”  were amazing. Also played this evening were two new songs from the upcoming Bad Witch. “Ahead of Ourselves” was premiered and the crowd was extremely into it. The song itself sounds like it could have been from Broken or The Downward Spiral. It’s definitely one of those songs that needs to be played and heard live. “God Break Down The Door” was played and sounded even better live than on the recorded version. There was something else about the evening that was really cool and that was the covers that were played. They did a cover of the How To Destroy Angels song “Parasite” along with the David Bowie song “I’m Afraid Of Americans” but, my favorite cover they did was the live debut of their version of “Digital” by Joy Division. This was an absolutely beautiful version of a classic and Nine Inch Nails did the band justice just as they always do. During the encore Trent brought out Gary Numan to perform the song “Metal” and even that was perfect.

As I mentioned, each night was different and unique making for a different experience. It’s really hard to pick a best night but I will say that Friday was just a touch better based solely on the set list. Nine Inch Nails is one of the few bands out there that never lets me down live. Their live shows are more than just concerts. They are life experiences that will change your life. If you’ve never seen them live I can guarantee that you will leave the show is absolute awe and feel like you just witnessed something that will have left you speechless. Even myself and the 17 times I’ve seen them, I still leave each show with a sense of awe and inspiration. Trent’s had different lineups over the years but I really think he’s found the right one, though I’m still partial to the line up he had during The Fragile. Drummer Ilan Rubin is astonishing. That guy can downright play and adds so much to the band. Guitarist Robin Finck is seriously underrated as a player. His style fits Trent and his vision to a T. Alessandro Cortini is a master at the synths. He is to me the new Charlie Clouser. And now that Atticus Ross is in the band full time, he adds so much more depth to the live shows with his sound manipulations and instrumentation.

What else can I say? I’m still on a high from these shows and will be for sometime. I will say this… Do yourself a favor and get a ticket to see Nine Inch Nails live and I seriously (I mean it) it will change your life.

Friday Set List:

Branches/Bones
Wish
Sanctified
Copy Of A
Less Than
March Of The Pigs
Piggy
The Frail
The Wretched
Closer (with The Only Time interpolation)
1,000,000
I Can’t Give Everything Away (David Bowie Cover)
The Background World
The Great Destroyer
Burning Bright (Field On Fire)
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole

Encore:

Only
Survivalism
The Day The World Went Away
Hurt

Saturday Set List:

Somewhat Damaged
The Day The World Went Away
The Frail
The Wretched
Terrible Lie
March Of The Pigs
Something I Can Never Have
Me, I’m Not
Ahead Of Ourselves (Live Debut)
God Break Down The Door
The Lovers
Parasite (How To Destroy Angels Cover)
The Great Destroyer
The Good Soldier
I’m Afraid Of Americans (David Bowie Cover)
The Big Come Down
Digital (Joy Division Cover)
Less Than
Wish

Encore:

Metal (Gary Numan Cover with Gary)
Reptile
Hurt

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