This evening the Austin City Limits stage was graced by the presence of Nine Inch Nails and I was one of the lucky ones in the room. Mr. Reznor was backed by five multi-instrumentalists and two backing vocalists. His guitarist on this tour is Robin Fincke
From very early in the set Mr. Reznor said that he didn't want to bring a Nine Inch Nails show to Austin City Limits he wanted the band to be a bit out of their comfort zone. He also remarked how it was very strange for him to be able to see himself since he is so used to being shrouded by the lights rather than illuminated by them.
Nine Inch Nails - Came Back Haunted video via YouTube
As performers, Nine Inch Nails are damned-near flawless. With more than twenty years of experience they brought an unparalleled intensity to the stage. These are musicians who are used to headlining festivals and playing sold-out arena tours and they brought all of that volume and intensity to an intimate theater space. With a set that lasted an hour and forty-five minutes without a break, Mr. Reznor sweat clear through his all-black attire, which included a pair of dropped-crotch pants.
When he wasn't singing, Trent tended to retreat toward the back of the stage where he stood like a shamen raising spirits; a conductor pulling the song's crescendos piece by piece until the songs reached their orgasmic climaxes.
The set list was heavier on the newest record but tonight's audience, including myself, just wanted to hear Nine Inch Nails. They could have played the Itsy Bitsy Spider for 45 minutes and we would have clapped until our hands were raw. Personally, I spent most of the show on my feet and about half of it with my eyes closed, my chin pointing toward the ceiling as I convulsed to the music.
Set highlights included an incredible rendition of Satellite from the newest LP. I was also really moved by Survivalism, which really worked the crowd into a fist-pumping, screaming frenzy. As far as classics go, singing along to Hurt with 2,000 other people including Trent Reznor became a new highlight for my life.
I know that Nine Inch Nails was a very important band to a lot of people and that many of their biggest fans didn't get to attend tonight's taping. I really wish I could use my words to paint you a clearer picture of what we experienced at the Moody Theater tonight but all I can really tell you is that history was made. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a part of a very special experience and I still can't wrap my brain around it. You guys, Nine Inch Nails is going to be on your local PBS. The same channel that shows Arthur, is going to have a live performance from Nine Inch Nails.
I managed to get a photo of the setlist. I asked the girl who snagged it if she would pose with it over her face like I did with the ACL volunteer above the break but she said that was "disrespectful" so I cropped her stupid face out of it anyway. Unfortunately now it looks all grainy but fortunately, you can see what songs they played this evening. Like I said, their set was close to two hours and that's going to have to be cut down to 45 minutes or less for television but you'll feel the electricity through our TV screens on this one, I can guarantee that much.