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Nine Inch Nails Get Closer With Intimate L.A. Show At Troubadour

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Scott T. Sterling
Scott T. Sterling Scott is the rock associate producer for Radio.com....
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On the night before Labor Day 2013, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails thrilled a capacity crowd with a headlining set at Jay Z’s Made in America music festival in front of tens of thousands of fans with a dazzling, high-tech show inspired by Talking Heads’ legendary 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense.

Barely 48 hours later, the band broke down that stadium-sized show and packed it into the tiny confines of L.A.’s Troubadour club (capacity: around 400), providing the very fortunate few able to squeeze into the intimate venue with a rare up-close and personal NIN experience.

The show was a drastic departure from the festival set NIN has been delivering this year, with a stripped-down stage leaving all of the onstage fireworks to be provided by Reznor and his current cast of ace musicians — Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, Josh Eustis and Ilan Rubin — clicking with the easy swing that comes from relentlessly playing together.

Related: Win An All-Expenses-Paid Trip To Watch A NIN Rehearsal In Los Angeles

The band stormed through an fiery set that covered a wide swath of NIN’s deep catalog, playing just as many tracks from their 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine as from the brand new Hesitation Marks, the group’s eighth studio full-length that hit stores the day of the show (September 3).

It was 1999 double-album and fan favorite The Fragile that saw the most shine with five songs, including show opener “Somewhat Damaged” and an encore performance of jazzy instrumental “La Mer,” unearthed for the first time onstage since 2009’s “Wave Goodbye” tour.

Reznor chatted easily with the crowd, showing much gratitude for the diehard fans screaming their devotion at every break in the maelstrom of sound coming from the stage, even chiding himself for needing the lyrics to his David Bowie collaboration, “I’m Afraid of Americans” taped to the stage floor for reference.

Given Nine Inch Nails’ stature, the show attracted a who’s who of L.A. celebrities, with Davy Havok (AFI), Skrillex, Tony Hawk, Shavo Odadjian (System of a Down) and Tony Kanal (No Doubt) among the famous faces spotted in the crowd.

The band saved The Downward Spiral hit “Hurt” for the last song of the night, which the fans turned into a hushed, almost reverential sing-along before Reznor and crew finally relinquished the stage after turning in nearly a two-hour show.

As happy fans streamed out of the club onto Santa Monica Boulevard after the final peal of feedback finally subsided, no one even seemed to notice (or care) that the band hadn’t bothered to play what’s considered by many as their biggest song, “Closer.” Seemed as though fans were already as close to Reznor as they could get.

Setlist
Somewhat Damaged
The Beginning of the End
Terrible Lie
March of the Pigs
Piggy
The Frail
The Wretched
I’m Afraid of Americans
Gave Up
I Am Sanctified
Disappointed
The Warning
Find My Way
Came Back Haunted
Wish
Survivalism
Burn
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole

Encore:
La Mer
Hurt

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