On the night before Labor Day 2013, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails thrilled a capacity crowd with a headlining set at Jay Z’s Made in America music festival in front of tens of thousands of fans with a dazzling, high-tech show inspired by Talking Heads’ legendary 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense.
Barely 48 hours later, the band broke down that stadium-sized show and packed it into the tiny confines of L.A.’s Troubadour club (capacity: around 400), providing the very fortunate few able to squeeze into the intimate venue with a rare up-close and personal NIN experience.
The show was a drastic departure from the festival set NIN has been delivering this year, with a stripped-down stage leaving all of the onstage fireworks to be provided by Reznor and his current cast of ace musicians — Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, Josh Eustis and Ilan Rubin — clicking with the easy swing that comes from relentlessly playing together.
The band stormed through an fiery set that covered a wide swath of NIN’s deep catalog, playing just as many tracks from their 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine as from the brand new Hesitation Marks, the group’s eighth studio full-length that hit stores the day of the show (September 3).
It was 1999 double-album and fan favorite The Fragile that saw the most shine with five songs, including show opener “Somewhat Damaged” and an encore performance of jazzy instrumental “La Mer,” unearthed for the first time onstage since 2009’s “Wave Goodbye” tour.