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Go See This Fucking Band

NINE INCH NAILS play an amazing last NYC show, setlist available

Ever since TRENT REZNOR indicated that NINE INCH NAILS are taking a break after their current run of U.S. shows, the media has been yipping about the man who forced industrial music onto the radio, defied MTV with his videos and politics, thrust JOHNNY CASH and DAVID BOWIE back into the spotlight, infuriated labels and retailers by giving away his music (or encouraging fans to steal it,) and of course, won a Grammy for a song with "fistfuck" in the lyrics. Some even mentioned being one of the most innovative and influential songwriters of the past 20 years. All of which takes a backseat to the fact that Nine Inch Nails put on an unbelievably spectacular live show, and the final New York stop of their "Wave Goodbye" tour at Terminal 5 proved as much.

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Tickets sold out almost instantly, and my chances in online outlets were shot down by people paying at least $250 to be there. Thus, I spent an hour or so before showtime pacing outside the venue, struggling to look pitiable while begging luckier fans for a ticket. Eventually a kind-hearted femme offered me face value admission (if she's reading this: I'm sorry I kissed you, but I was REALLY grateful,) and I squeezed in between tightly-packed goths and metalheads united by their NIN fanaticism. By the time the lights dimmed and the first strains of "Pinion" blared over the PA, it was impossible to move anywhere that the crowd wasn't already pushing toward.

Few artists in the world can pull off a set like the one Nine Inch Nails played. An intricate and intense light show backlit a freeform, spontaneous performance, capped by a marathon setlist that touched on the band's entire career. Deep cuts like "Sin" and "Last" were as enthusiastically received as "Wish," which drove the crowd into a violent, asphyxiating frenzy early on. As much I as enjoyed blowing out my larynx to "March of the Pigs," I knew I'd be heading for the back if the crowd couldn't control themselves soon.

Thankfully, the chaos was balanced with restrained, stirring renditions of "Something I Can Never Have," "Lights in the Sky" and of course "Hurt," all of which made the case that Reznor could've been nearly as successful as a balladeer. Still, the abrasive, turbulent noise that reshaped modern metal and alternative music made up most of the evening. Cuts from his cyber-firebomb The Slip and the underrated Year Zero proved that Reznor held on to his a-game long after most of his Lollapalooza-era peers fell into irrelevance, and newer songs like "Non-Entity" gave no hints of Reznor's creativity slowing down. Diving between bandmembers, swinging around whatever piece of equipment got in his way and launching from a whisper to a scream in less time than it takes to hold your breath, Reznor brought an age-defying fervor to every song. How the meticulous perfectionist that created The Fragile and loose cannon that could've been institutionalized for his performance of "Head Like a Hole" manage to co-exist is one of the great mysteries of modern music, but it's a mystery that the overflowing crowd at Terminal 5 was very appreciative of.

Goth icon PETER MURPHY of BAUHAUS dropped in (literally, hanging upside down from the ceiling) to seethe out a few verses of "Reptile," before the band signed off with some Bauhaus and PERE UBU covers that most attendees didn't seem to recognize. It may have been an anticlimactic closer for those of us hoping for more Reznor originals, but the show had already exceeded expectations even for NIN's past few decades of amazing music. Plus, it's hard to imagine Trent Reznor never returning to the stage. We're looking forward to joining you, finally.

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Setlist:

1. "Pinion"
2. "Somewhat Damaged"
3. "Wish"
4. "Last"
5. "Sin"
6. "March Of The Pigs"
7. "Something I Can Never Have"
8. "Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)"
9. "Metal"
10. "Terrible Lie"
11. "Head Down"
12. "Burn"
13. "Gave Up"
14. "La Mer"
15. "The Frail"
16. "The Wretched"
17. "Non-Entity"
18. "Gone, Still"
19. "Lights In The Sky"
20. "The Downward Spiral"
21. "1,000,000"
22. "Survivalism"
23. "The Good Soldier"
24. "Dead Souls"
25. "Hurt"
Encore:
26. "Suck"
27. "Down In It"
28. "The Hand That Feeds"
29. "Head Like A Hole"
30. "Reptile" with Peter Murphy
31. "Strange Kind Of Love" with Peter Murphy
32. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" with Peter Murphy
33. "Final Solution" with Peter Murphy

-Ben

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