In 2022 there are few things that are certain, we will never see the Epstein flight logs, remakes is all Hollywood aspires to do, boy band reunions are a bad idea, and if you are not at least familiar with who Nine Inch Nails is you have either been living in a secluded hut on a distant island…or a newborn. So for those few deprived ones out there who need a quick background, here is some history.
Formed in 1988 by Trent Reznor and releasing their debut Pretty Hate Machine in 1989 took electronic music/Industrial Music to a whole other stratosphere. Not only from the production and song writing aspects but from the completely insane energy they would let loose live. Their 1992 follow up EP Broken seemed to embody all of that, from tracks like “Wish,” “Happiness in Slavery,” and “Gave Up” the EP was bludgeoning. The guitar production alone went on to influence different genres trying to recreate the “heaviness” of the album. All of that being said, the real genius behind NIN’s catalogue was shown in the next album 1994’s The Downward Spiral. Trent and company could have easily recreated previous efforts and stuck to a formula, but they instead built on the sound they developed, added a concept of the ”downward spiral” of an individual into suicide to deliver a message of “expect the unexpected”. Their future releases only seemed to cement that legacy from the more polished sound of The Fragile (1999) to the politically charged releases With Teeth (2005) and Year Zero (2007). And in the midst of all of this Trent found time to score movies, video games, launch a label which catapulted the career of one Marilyn Manson (and produced some of his early albums). Explanation? Trent Reznor is Dr. Manhattan!
Having a great discography, production, and controversial (at times) videography are a strong foundation for a band, but not being able to bring all of that together for a live show and deliver one hell of an experience for your fans would be a sin (no pun intended…ok maybe just a little). It is one thought that Nine Inch Nails is not guilty of. Their shows were not only legendary but have evolved with the band. Their show at Woodstock ’94 was a mud covered free for all outdid any of the other performances at the festival. The visuals and state of the art lighting changed with each tour and fans never saw the same show with this band. The only thing that could keep the band from it’s audience, was the COVID shut downs and political/public unrest that delayed a recent tour. A message on NIN’s social media apologized for the delay and promised to return at a more appropriate time. That in mind, kicking off Labor Day weekend, on Friday, September 2, 2022 Nine Inch Nails made good on their promise at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre may always be packed for shows, but the crowd for Nine Inch Nails day 1 performance seemed like fans were pouring over the railings. To add to the atmosphere behind the Red Rocks stage the sky was putting on a lightning show of its own. Fans had traveled from all over the US, and in some cases from out of the country, just to experience Nine Inch Nails at the worlds greatest music venue. As the lights dimmed, band hit the stage and wasted no time going right into the blasting punctuating track “Somewhat Damaged.” The audience wasted no time eating up the dish that Reznor along with longtime collaborator Robin Fink on guitars, Atticus Ross on keys, Ilan Rubin on drums and guitars, Alessandro Cortini on bass delivered to them. Sticking with The Fragile, the band dimmed their lights and began a chorus of atmospheric guitars for the song “The Day the World Went Away” the sound engulfing over the amphitheater.
NIN then wasted no time changing the mood of the night as they dove into their fast paced sonic blitz “Wish.” The crowd didn’t miss a beat, singing along to every word, in an instant it was the 90s again and the crowd found their inner disgruntled youth. The band had no issue keeping the youthful nostalgia and energy going unleashing “Last” and “Sin,” keeping the crowd in blissful frenzy. The night was loaded with a mixture of old and new(er) material from the politically charged “Survivalism” to the classic single “A Perfect Drug,” to the final song of the regular set “Head Like a Hole” Nine Inch Nails gave their audience a full tour of their collection and versatility. Their encore only furthered the variance kicking off with upbeat melody of “Only” but ended with the hauntingly slow favorite of “Hurt.” After all had to reserve everyone for night number 2 the very next day.
With all the cancelled shows for various reasons in the last few years, shows like these truly are something to be thankful for. Some artists sadly we will not get to see again, one of which was honored by Trent Reznor at the show as he paid tribute to the sad passing of Taylor Hawkins. It is a reminder that we should never take any of this for granted and to cherish music and the experiences it brings. So don’t waste any time and get out there and make seeing Nine Inch Nails a priority.