Five thoughts: Nine Inch Nails at the Joint (October 20)

Nine Inch Nails performs on Friday, October 20 at the Joint.
Photo: Erik Kabik

1. In recent years, Nine Inch Nails concerts have been as notable for their intricate visual presentation as for their music, but at this one-off show, the most elaborate stage element was streamers hanging from various instruments and microphone stands. Without the light show, the focus was entirely on the music, and the band made the most of it.

2. Although there have been two NIN EPs (Not the Actual Events and Add Violence) released in the past year, the set was mostly focused on well-known hits, drawing just two songs from each of the EPs and instead showcasing longtime favorites like “Terrible Lie,” “Closer,” “Wish,” “March of the Pigs” and more, to the audience’s enthusiastic reaction.

3. NIN’s 2017 shows are the first with Atticus Ross, a longtime collaborator of NIN mastermind Trent Reznor, as a live performer, and the first since Reznor announced Ross as the only other permanent band member since NIN’s inception. Despite his apparent major influence, Ross fit in seamlessly with the other veteran live NIN players, chilling behind his keyboard rig and most notably adding some noisy intensity to the extended coda of “The Great Destroyer.”

4. When Reznor announced that the band was about to cover a David Bowie song and he hoped they would do it justice, they could have easily launched into any of the frequently covered Bowie classics that have become even more prevalent since the singer’s death. Instead they broke out a moody version of “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” from Bowie’s 2016 farewell album Blackstar.

5. “We appreciate you coming out last minute,” Reznor said to the crowd that might have been slightly larger had the show been announced more than a few weeks in advance. But the show never felt rushed, and the band never sounded anything but polished, whether on new songs or slightly tweaked versions of old favorites.

  • Last month Sting announced a new greatest hits-style album, “My Songs,” is coming out on May 24, with new versions and reinterpretations of 15 of ...

  • Also on the bill: Billie Eilish, Lil Wayne, Janelle Monáe, Vampire Weekend, Zedd, Portugal. The Man, Rüfüs Du Sol …

  • “I think the experience and the communal vibe of tour is really reparative to sick, isolated, creative people who stay at home with their cats ...

  • Get More Music Stories
Top of Story