While I debate what Christmas song to post for this fine yet chilly Christmas Eve, I’m gonna tackle Nine Inch Nails’ final performance of the “Cold and Black and Infinite” tour. This was the last of a six night stand at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles on 12.15.18. It’s taken me a little time to get around to this post … you know, the holidays and stuff.
Admittedly, I wasn’t planning to go a second time, after catching them on the first of the six. But after seeing their ever-changing setlists, where you could hear just about anything NIN felt like playing, I couldn’t resist. My only regret is not catching their third show, which focused on material pre-1995. That would’ve been perfect. So I went with the next best pick, which was the last and final performance of the tour. I figured, if anything crazy was going to happen, that would be the one.
Well, as fate would have it, it wasn’t all that crazy. In fact, it was mostly straightforward and surprisingly introspective. Trent Reznor spoke a lot about past troubles and moving beyond dark places. And there was a lot of sincere thanks to the fans for sticking with them for three decades. Yeah, that’s right, 30 frackin’ years and counting.
But that doesn’t mean things didn’t get intense. In fact, they kicked the show off with a powerhouse selection of “Broken” and “Downward Spiral” material, starting with a “Pinion” intro and segueing straight into “Wish.”
Nine Inch Nails perform “Pinion” & “Wish” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
There was a big chunk of new material from “Bad Witch” and “Add Violence,” including the tracks “This Isn’t the Place,” where Trent slowed the pace momentarily, and “Over and Out,” which punctuated the encore, prior to the requisite “Hurt.”
Nine Inch Nails perform “This Isn’t the Place” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
Nine Inch Nails perform “Over and Out” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
We even got a David Bowie cover, “I’m Afraid of Americans,” which NIN originally collaborated on the remixes. Curiously, this one seems more relevant now than ever.
Nine Inch Nails perform “I’m Afraid of Americans” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
And Trent’s wife Mariqueen Maandig returned for a trio of How to Destroy Angels tracks, two of which differed from the first show. They performed “BBB,” and the one that put a smile on my face, “Ice Age.” The latter is one my favorite HTDA tracks, because it’s so darn quirky.
Nine Inch Nails cover How to Destroy Angels’ “Ice Age” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
Nine Inch Nails cover How to Destroy Angels’ “BBB” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
And finally, we got four songs from “The Fragile,” three of which they performed during the encore. Interesting that NIN would chose to end their tour on a more somber note. But at this point, it felt as if Trent and co. were less concerned about ending big, and more interested in reflecting on where they’ve been and where they are.
Fair enough. The entire tour points to an exploration of their entire catalogue, changing up the setlist and performing tracks that haven’t seen the stage in many years, or in some cases, not at all. So to conclude with “The Fragile” makes a sort of sense. “Even Deeper” and “Just Like You Imagined” were part of the encore, and “The Big Come Down” arrived midway through the set.
Nine Inch Nails perform “Even Deeper” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
Nine Inch Nails perform “Just Like You Imagined” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
Nine Inch Nails perform “The Big Come Down” @ the Hollywood Palladium on 12.15.18.
When all was said and done, I have to say that I still miss some of the older material. I would’ve loved more “Pretty Hate Machine,” or some alternate tracks from “Broken.” But what we got was pretty great, and ultimately, unique to this particular night.
And I might add, NIN have never sounded tighter and looser at the same time . Their performance was flawless, even at its most spontaneous moments. It really felt like they could play anything, and it would sound incredible.
At the end, Trent said they’d be taking a break, but they’d definitely be back. I don’t know if we’ll ever get a tour as unique as this one. But at 30 years and counting, it feels like Nine Inch Nails are just getting started.
Nine Inch Nails:
How to Destroy Angels: