Nine Inch Nails Digs 'Downward' At NYC Farewell Club Gig

By Jonathan Cohen for Billboard on August 24, 2009

Nine Inch Nails fans got more than they bargained for last night (Aug. 23) at New York's tiny Webster Hall, as they witnessed the Trent Reznor-led band play its 1994 classic "The Downward Spiral" in its entirety for the first time ever.

NIN is on a "Wave Goodbye" tour of small venues, and had squeezed in to New York's 550-capacity Bowery Ballroom the night before. At Webster Hall, the 1,000-strong crowd was drenched in sweat within minutes of the band taking the stage to the punishing rock of "Mr. Self Destruct."

It was soon clear that Reznor and company were plowing through "Downward" in sequence. He later told the audience, "I've always wanted to play that whole record, and this seemed like the time to do it."

The "Downward" sequence of course featured Nine Inch Nails' iconic single "Closer," which wasn't played the night before, and finished with the hushed "Hurt," which became known to an entirely different audience thanks to Johnny Cash's memorable 2002 cover version.

Once "Downward" was completed, NIN proceeded to play 10 more songs without an encore, including "Suck," "The Hand That Feeds" and its breakthrough 1989 hit, "Head Like a Hole."

The NIN farewell tour continues tomorrow and Wednesday at New York' Terminal 5, and wraps Sept. 6 at Los Angeles' Echoplex. The band had originally planned to bow out of live performances after a summer tour with Jane's Addiction, but Reznor said that since "we had to rush through sets due to a limited allotted set length and many shows were in daylight, it just didn't feel right to end NIN that way."

Reznor has not given specific details about what he plans to do following the tour's conclusion.

Here is Nine Inch Nails' Aug. 23 Webster Hall set list:

"Mr. Self Destruct"
"March of the Pigs"
"The Becoming"
"I Do Not Want This"
"Big Man with a Gun"
"A Warm Place"
"The Downward Spiral"
"Terrible Lie"
"Lights in the Sky"
"Gave Up"
"The Hand That Feeds"
"Head Like a Hole"

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