One of the last times Nine Inch Nails embarked upon a major national tour was Tension 2013 in support for their album, Hesitation Marks. The stage setup was elaborate with three rows of high-tech LED screens at the front, center, and back of the stage, creating a light show with true 3D effects. It featured some of the most advanced technology seen in modern music touring. Previous tours like Lights in the Sky were very nearly as impressive.
This time around, however, Nine Inch Nails has stripped down the elaborate lights and lasers for a more raw, gritty atmosphere as the audience in Atlanta learned on Wednesday, September 26. Of course, the show wasn’t devoid of its fair share of impressive lighting spectacles, but there was a certain sense of the dirty, more stripped-down Nine Inch Nails of the ’90s present inside the Fox theater when Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, and Ilan Rubin took the stage.
As the theater lights dimmed, so too did they illuminate rhythmicaly against a dirty, minimalist white sheet backdrop. Lights were flashing in time with every passing whack that led into the night’s opening song, “Mr. Self Destruct.” Then as Trent Reznor grabbed the microphone and belted out the opening line of the album The Downward Spiral, the audience erupted into pure bliss.
As a long-time Nine Inch Nails fan, I have to say, you cant ask for a much better opener than “Mr. Self Destruct.” In unison, the audience screamed along every word to the nihilistic chorus — a bleak chant that alludes to a self-destructing addict being taunted by his drug of choice.
I take you where you want to go.
I give you all you need to know.
I drag you down I use you up.
Mr. Self Descruct.”
The energy in the room was nearly palpable as they launched straight into the rarely played “The Perfect Drug” and “Wish.” Also of note was the first time ever Nine Inch Nails played the track from Not The Actual Events, “Dear World.”
Nine Inch Nails didn’t shy away from deeper cuts like “Burn,” “The Big Come Down,” and “All The Love In The World.” They, of course, also played a barrage of favorites like “The Hand That Feeds” and “Came Back Haunted.”
Trent Reznor broke out a baritone saxophone a number of times during the set showing he’s still exploring new musical avenues and Robin Finck traded his guitar for a xylophone during “Over and Out.” At 53-years-old, Trent Reznor is still going strong and exuding as much energy as he ever has on stage. As a side note, drummer Ilan Rubin absolutely nailed the drum breakdown of “The Perfect Drug” to utter perfection. No easy feat.
The night was closed appropriately with the song “Hurt.” Afterwards, a crowd of overjoyed fans exited the packed Fox Theater in ages ranging from teens to people in their 50s, proving that Nine Inch Nails is still as relevant as ever. The show also proved that as a live band, Nine Inch Nails is still force to be reckoned with.