Live Review: Nine Inch Nails Bless Brooklyn With Two Majestically Unique Shows (10/16-17)

Pretty Hate Machine and Broken songs highlighted nights 1 and 2, respectively

Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails, photo by Melinda Oswandel

Setting the Stage: Nine Inch Nails’ “Cold and Black and Infinite Tour” has been filled with surprises, with Trent Reznor and company mixing up the setlist each night, leaving fans to expect the unexpected. Sorry, kids, unlike most tours these days, you can’t check on your phone to see what the band played at their last show to know exactly what songs are coming up at the gig you’re attending. And with four shows total in the New York City area, including two previous concerts at Radio City Music Hall over the weekend, the sold-out crowd at the beautiful and historic Kings Theatre in Brooklyn was abuzz with anticipation for what NIN had in store for them on Tuesday night (October 16th).

Taking the Stage: Amidst the shadowy lighting and fog, Reznor and his NIN bandmates took the stage, launching into “Now I’m Nothing”, a short song that opened sets on the band’s 1991 Lollapalooza stint but has never been properly recorded in the studio. From there, NIN segued into a rousing rendition of  “Terrible Lie” — sweet lord, is this the night Reznor is going to go heavy on Pretty Hate Machine songs? Please, God money, let it be true! Up until this night, the band had barely been playing songs off their stellar 1989 debut album, but perhaps “Terrible Lie” was a sign of things to come. The Downward Spiral would be showcased on the next two songs — “Mr. Self Destruct” and “March of the Pigs”, the latter of which had fans singing along with Trent during the piano breakdowns. Then came more from Pretty Hate Machine, with the tour debut of “Something I Can Never Have” followed by “Sanctified.” Damn, this is one helluva set, and we’re only six songs in!

A quick side note: While growing up in Brooklyn in the ’80s, I wasn’t really exposed to industrial music as a kid. But when I went to the Midwest for college, I became friends with a tall skinny kid named Josh from Milwaukee who lent me a copy of Pretty Hate Machine, and from there I discovered Ministry, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb and all the other great industrial acts of the time. So, I will always hold Pretty Hate Machine in reverence as the gateway to a genre of music that became near and dear to my heart.

Okay, back to the show. The rest of the set offered a nice mix of songs, with “Closer” and the tour debut of “I Do Not Want This” further representing the masterful Downward Spiral. Another highlight was “The Perfect Drug”, a song NIN first started playing on this tour, despite the track being 20 years old.

However, it was the incredible one-two punch of “Wish” and “Head Like a Hole” to close out the initial set that got the greatest rise out of the audience, each song sending the crowd into a state of euphoria and worship. Yes, bow down, indeed!

The show wasn’t over yet, as Reznor and his bandmates returned to the stage for a three-song encore that included a cover of Gary Numan’s “Metal” and the haunting set closer, “Hurt”. An unforgettable show, and to think, there was one more night to come…

Night 2: We won’t break down the second night in Brooklyn (October 17th) with as much detail as night one, but it was just as special. When Nine Inch Nails kicked off this tour in Phoenix, Arizona, a month ago, the band wowed fans by playing the Broken EP in full for the first time ever. But that hasn’t been the case in the shows since, until Wednesday night, when the band did it again (save for the “Pinion” intro), among other memorable moments. Fans who attended both Brooklyn shows were treated to two unique sets that were equally majestic. Setlists for each show can be seen below.

Legendary Support: NIN alone were worth the price of admission, but you’re not going to want to miss The Jesus and Mary Chain, a legendary band in their own right. And you’re not going to want to miss their first two songs, as they kick off their set with the classics “Just Like Honey” and “Head On”, giving the latter a rocked-up rendition that came off more like the Pixies cover than their own original. The shoegazing pioneers sounded in top form, proving why they’re one of Reznor’s favorite bands, as he mentioned during NIN’s set.

Photo Gallery: Nine Inch Nails and The Jesus and Mary Chain at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn (click to enlarge and scroll through)

Photos by Melinda Oswandel (@melindaoswandel)

Nine Inch Nails Setlist 10/16:
Now I’m Nothing
Terrible Lie
Mr. Self Destruct
March of the Pigs
Something I Can Never Have (tour debut)
The Lovers
Shit Mirror
Ahead of Ourselves
God Break Down the Door
Closer (with ‘The Only Time’ interpolation )
Find My Way
I Do Not Want This (tour debut)
The Perfect Drug
Head Like a Hole

Metal (Gary Numan cover)

Nine Inch Nails Setlist 10/17:
Help Me I Am in Hell
Happiness in Slavery
Gave Up
Physical (You’re So) (Adam and the Ants cover)
Suck (Pigface cover)
March of the Pigs
Letting You
Parasite (How to Destroy Angels cover)
God Break Down the Door
Me, I’m Not
Copy of A
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole

Shit Mirror
Even Deeper
The Background World