Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Aug 31st 2009 3:15PM by Jonathan Dekel
When Trent Reznor announced the 'Wave Goodbye' tour via Nine Inch Nails' website, he credited an "offer to headline Virgin Festival in Toronto" as being responsible for setting, "the idea in motion to play some FUN shows to end this up with."
While Reznor has teased fans with NIN's demise before, these final dates do make it seem like he truly means to stop touring, if not necessarily to give up making music.
With the exception of Virgin Festival -- which Reznor has claimed will cover some of the financial hit he'll take on this tour -- the industrial supergroup has otherwise been playing a series of "cool, unusual and unique shows" at relatively tiny venues in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles to bid farewell to a fanbase which has sweat, cried, tattooed and bled Nine Inch Nails since the band's inception in 1988.
With the special New York and Chicago gigs under his belt, one had to wonder what the ever-innovative Reznor had in store for his final large-scale show.
As the last act on the last day of a festival featuring the likes of N.E.R.D, Franz Ferdinand, Pixies and Pet Shop Boys, the moments leading up to NIN's headlining set were the most tense of the weekend. Thousands of black-clad fans descended on the Molson Amphitheatre at dusk for the band's set, creating an apprehensive atmosphere of calm before a storm. This made the moment when Reznor finally emerged, rather unexpectedly while the venue's lights were still on, to launch into 'Somewhat Damaged' -- the first of several cuts the band took from 1999's 'The Fragile' -- that much more thrilling.
With low-hanging lights casting godlike yellow rays onto the sunken faces of Reznor, bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen, drummer Ilan Rubin and guitarist (and longtime collaborator) Robin Finck, the band unleashed a career-spanning 22-song set -- featuring only four songs from this decade -- which masterfully intermingled popular singles such as 'March of the Pigs' and 'Closer' with rarely played album cuts like the morbidly dark 'Eraser.'
Keeping the between-song banter brief, Reznor repeatedly thanked the gathered masses -- many of whom had seen the band at the same venue earlier in the summer during their co-headlining tour with Jane's Addiction -- for their continued support throughout the past 20 years. Though he sheepishly apologized for performing with a "sh--ty voice" due to illness, Reznor nonetheless pushed his vocals to the limit and performed with vigor and aggression that, at times, boiled over into violent rage -- as an unfortunate guitar discovered at the end of 'Terrible Lie.'
As far as highlights go, few could top the emotional lighters-raised sing-along of 'Hurt' -- perhaps the song most closely linked to the band's musical and visual extravaganza -- or closing number 'Head Like a Hole,' which may well be the last time these fans see their favourite band play live.
As the final feedback-drenched sounds faded into the cool night sky, not long after Reznor finally blew his voice out trying to scream along with Finck to 'Head Like a Hole's abrasive chorus, the venue's flood lights came on. No encore. No emotional goodbyes. Just a wave and a memory to mark the (possible) end of one of the most awe-inspiring live bands today.