The last time I was at the Henry Fonda Theater it was to see Nine Inch Nails’s second-to-last concert (theoretically) ever. NIN absolutely destroyed the place! Not cosmetically, but existentially. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever experienced. They took all my previously fond memories of past concerts at that venue, crumpled them up, and made them seem like insignificant moments in time. A reader posted the following comment on my review of the Nine Inch Nails show at Henry Fonda Theater:
September 11, 2009 at 6:37pm
They should just burn down the Fonda, because there will never be a better show there again.
If they leave it standing they should no longer be allowed to have any more concerts there. b-ill-one
I’m not condoning arson, but I couldn’t have agreed more. Something so outstanding took place that night that the Henry Fonda could have closed its doors forever and nobody would question it.
Fever Ray at Henry Fonda Theater
Well, it’s a good thing they stayed open because, tonight, Fever Ray resurrected the Fonda ghosts and turned that venue upside-down. . . again. Does that make it right-side up now? If so, then the Henry Fonda is back in business.
I will admit that between opening acts I looked up at the stage and nostalgically felt that Nine Inch Nails show all over again.
But the instant Fever Ray hit the stage, all thoughts dissipated as the characters (aka the band) – led by Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson (formerly, The Knife) – transformed the Henry Fonda Theater once again. Fever Ray’s full, layered sound filled the room, complemented by the pulsing laser show. There were costumes and face paint, and fans swayed in reverence.
I don’t believe a word was spoken on stage between songs and if so, I was too entranced to notice. You didn’t just hear the music, watch the lights, see the smoke – you felt the music, felt the lights, felt the smoke (some more than others).
This has been one of the most anticipated shows in LA since the tour was announced on May 12, 2009. It may remain among the most talked-about until May 12, 2010. . . or whenever Fever Ray returns.
By the way, speaking of Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor was at the show tonight, but nobody seemed to care. Every now and then somebody returning from the bar or restroom would say, “Hey – Trent Reznor’s here!” And without turning their head, without shifting their eyes, the friend would respond, “yeah. . . ”
So this is what it’s like to go to a Fever Ray show: your friend can tell you that your hero just walked in the room, and as if you were talking about the color of the carpet, you’d say, “yeah. . . cool.”
There’s not much to say. Last night marked the final performance for Nine Inch Nails for the foreseeable future and I was standing 5 feet from the stage. It doesn’t get much better than that. In fact, it might not get any better than that. Unless, of course, NIN says “just kidding” and start touring again next year.
The thing is – it didn’t seem to matter where you were standing for this show – everybody who was there was just happy to be there. I saw a post from a woman who was in the furthest seat back in the balcony and she sounds as moved and excited as me.
It hasn’t really hit me yet that this is the last time we’ll be seeing this band perform live, especially since I got used to seeing them almost every-other day during these final four shows. I even ran out of black t-shirts to wear. I’ll post some videos, pictures, and the setlist below, but let’s start at the beginning.
Any Nine Inch Nails show is an experience, but the experience of this show began with fans trying to get tickets during the original on-sale and people traveling in from around the world to be at what was actually supposed to be the second-to-last show ever. As evidenced on the tour posters and shirts, the schedule changed last-minute when Trent became too sick to perform following the initial show at The Palladium. This meant the Henry Fonda (2nd) and Wiltern (3rd) shows had to be rescheduled. The Echoplex show, which was originally billed as the final show, went on as scheduled last Sunday, making it the 2nd show instead of the last show. Confused? Imagine how the bosses, family members, spouses and friends of all the people who took time off work, traveled across the country (or from other countries), and camped outside days before each show felt! I met people who couldn’t tell their family they were in town from Chicago because they surely wouldn’t understand why they popped over to LA for a day to see Nine Inch Nails, but haven’t visited the family in a year. But in the end it all worked out. Trent was well enough to perform the shows the way Nine Inch Nails is known and will be remembered for, and some fans who couldn’t previously get tickets were able to get into the rescheduled shows (although others who originally planned to be there had to return home to their jobs and families).
Speaking of family – Nine Inch Nails fans are family in a way that I haven’t experienced with any other band. There are definitely communities of fans that become friends through their shared love of a band. And jam band fans in particular run into each other while following their favorite band around the country. But Nine Inch Nails fans might as well be blood relatives. They look out for each other and NIN in a way that only a protective family member would. And the band does the same for their fans. In a fairly successful attempt to eliminate the scalping of tickets for these shows, Nine Inch Nails controlled all ticket sales, limited 2 tickets per person, printed the buyer’s name on the tickets, required ID of the buyer for ticket pick up, both the buyer and the buyer’s guest had to be present to pick up the tickets and then a wristband was placed on both people for entrance into the show. When the band found out that somebody was purchasing large quantities of event shirts and selling them on eBay (causing shirts to sell out at the venue before the fans who were there could purchase one), they limited people to one t-shirt per customer. And although they announced their Summer tour would be their last, Nine Inch Nails realized the impact this would have on their fans and added these final intimate club dates as a proper send-off. And then they played their souls out.
A small section of the line that spanned for blocks
Driving up to The Wiltern was quite a sight. I passed by the venue Wednesday at midnight and there were already a good 15 – 20 people camping outside. Dave Navarro also stopped by, brought water and snacks for the fans, and hung out for a bit. Then, by 2:00pm Thursday, the line wrapped around the block so that you could look through the alley and wave to the people waiting on the next street over.
The funniest thing to see were these huge straw patio umbrellas that several people seemed to have. It was HOT outside and once people discovered that Ralph’s sold patio furniture, they cleaned them out. Straw patio umbrellas were only $8 and they sold out in a flash. This was also one of the few places where the line for the men’s restroom was longer than the women’s. At one point, a guy drove by, blasting Lady GaGa. If you drive by hundreds of Nine Inch Nails fans, with Lady GaGa as your soundtrack, you deserve the ridicule you receive. There was a fan who walked up and down the line, giving everybody candy. “I’ve stood in this line 3 times (for the previous shows). I know how it is,” she said. Somebody asked me, “is there a show happening here?” I answered, “no” – you’ve got to be at least one step ahead of that for me to respond to you seriously. Somebody asked a guy next to me “who’s playing?” and the guy, who had been answering that question since he arrived at 7:30am said, “Michael Jackson.” Now, you might not think that’s funny. But the person’s response was, “oh – cool!” and that’s either funny or scary. Then, there’s the “t-shirt douche” – the guy who bought NIN event shirts en mass and tried to sell them on eBay for more than $200 each. As soon as fans figured out who this guy was they took a picture of him and posted it online (along with some additional descriptive graphics added in Photoshop). They shared it on Twitter and in the NIN forums and told everybody to be on the lookout for the “t-shirt douche.” But what was even better than that is that people passed out fliers with the guy’s picture on it while everybody was waiting in line. So now you have a line of several hundred people, holding these fliers that look like an R-rated version of an “America’s Most Wanted” poster and what happens? The “douche” walks by, head down, as fans call him out and require him to leave. Do not f*ck with Nine Inch Nails fans.
Once inside, there were the celebrity sightings: Tony Hawk, Ron Jeremy (for whom the crowd chanted and cheered), Rick Rubin, Tony Kanal (No Doubt), and Penn Jillette. But mostly there was the anticipation, excitement, and a bit of sadness that loomed in the air as everybody waited for Nine Inch Nails to take the stage for the last time. The show was amazing. All of these shows have been. I’m actually afraid to see live music for a little while because it’s going to take a lot to move me after this.
There are Artists, Musicians, Singers, Composers, Performers, and Songwriters. Some people are only one of those; Trent Reznor is all of them. He writes some of the most beautifully composed music you’ll hear. His music constricts and expands, extremely intense at times and then giving you space to breathe and expand with the notes. He has the ability to take all those sounds he hears in his head, and to articulate and translate them into something I can hear, process, and that moves my soul. His voice is exquisite – speaking and singing – I could listen to him for days. He’s honest and raw and 100% who he is – whether you (or he) like it or not – which makes his performances as real and authentic as they get. He’s given us 20 years of exceptional music and outstanding live performances. Even if you don’t like him, you gotta love him.
Numan and Reznor
The set list was 3-4 pages in length and they played for over 3 hours. Dave Navarro joined for a couple songs, as did The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mike Garson (Bowie), and Gary Numan. When they came out for the second encore Trent asked the crowd, “Are you guys tired?” Of course the crowd screamed “no!” and cheered. “No? Ok, I’m gonna test you.”
Although I don’t typically post set lists, I’m doing it for these shows because they’re the last shows and you can tell that a lot went into constructing a set in-line with such an event. So here it is:
2. Somewhat Damaged
3. The Collector
5. March of the Pigs
6. Something I Can Never Have
7. The Frail
8. The Wretched
10. Head Down
12. Just Like You Imagined (with Mike Garson)
13. La Mer (with Mike Garson)
14. Eraser (with Mike Garson)
15. The Becoming (with Mike Garson)
16. Down In The Park (Gary Numan cover) (with Gary Numan)
17. Metal (Gary Numan cover) (with Gary Numan)
18. I Die: You Die (Gary Numan cover) (with Gary Numan)
20. Letting You
22. Suck (Pigface cover)
23. Down In It
24. The Hand That Feeds
25. Head Like a Hole
26. Me, I’m Not (with Atticus Ross)
27. The Warning
29. Gave Up
30. Mr. Self Destruct
32. Atmosphere (Joy Division cover)
33. Dead Souls (Joy Division cover)
34. The Good Soldier
35. The Day The World Went Away
37. In This Twilight
Here are some videos and photos from last night’s show, including Trent’s final speech to the audience. But first, a thank you to Nine Inch Nails for the past 20 years, the music, the shows, the love, the heartbreak, and the friends met along the way. Look forward to hearing what you guys do next.
September 2, 2009
Wave Goodbye Tour
It’s not often that the better a show is, the sadder the audience gets. But such is the case when Nine Inch Nails takes the stage for one of the last times ever.
Nine Inch Nails is one of the best bands in the world. Even if you don’t like their music, you can’t deny how amazing they are. Well, you can deny it, but somebody will likely slap the $h!t out of you.
Tonight marked the first of four intimate NIN shows in Los Angeles. This is also the fourth to the last show Nine Inch Nails will ever play live (hopefully they change their mind about that in a couple years). I’m still somewhat speechless so please forgive the brevity.
They could have played anything and I would have been happy. As they did at New York’s Webster Hall, they played The Downward Spiral in its entirety and everybody was happy.
On another note, NIN just sent a Tweet announcing that Thursday’s show at Henry Fonda is canceled, making tonight’s show at The Palladium the third to the last NIN show ever (hopefully they’ll make it for the remaining two!). Trent did mention that he was sick and couldn’t hear anything when he was performing tonight. But if he hadn’t said something, we wouldn’t have known it. He played and sounded great, 2 solid hours, no break. The announcement on the band’s website says Trent’s doctor advised that he not play the next show. “Reimbursement details will be posted as soon as we figure them out…” Fans will want more than their money back – this is an experience that they’ve been anticipating for months and one that they may not have another chance to partake in. People were already lined up outside the Fonda at 6:30pm tonight for tomorrow’s show (well, today’s show given the current hour). I feel even more blessed to have been at the Palladium for this show and hope Trent feels better soon… soon enough to play NIN’s scheduled shows Saturday and Sunday.
Speaking of the Palladium, prior to this show, I refused to go to that venue for many years. I had seen a handful of shows there (before Live Nation purchased it) and the sound was always awful. They also used to search you as if you were entering a maximum security prison. And when you got inside it kind of felt like one. Now I know there are times to get upset when big corporations step in and take over a venue, but this isn’t one of them. The sound system has been upgraded exponentially and you can walk through the front doors without feeling violated.
Bow down before the one you serve
Back to Nine Inch Nails. I can’t pick out one highlight. The entire show was a highlight. Just being there, in a small venue (capacity: 4,000), watching one of my favorite bands perform some of my favorite songs and being able to see the sweat drip off them while they moved around the stage. As usual NIN sounded great and I think everybody who was there felt like they were part of something very special. I’m not sure anybody’s feet touched the ground for longer than a few seconds — the crowd was moving and jumping non-stop. I got some video (see below) of Trent introducing Gary Numan and talking about his influence on the sound of Nine Inch Nails. Gary performed “Metal” and “Cars” with the band and the crowd went (even more) insane.
Hopefully Trent is well enough to play The Wiltern on Saturday and The Echoplex on Sunday. Hopefully you can make it to one of those shows because this is not to be missed. But just in case you’re missing this tour, here are some videos from the show at the Palladium:
March of The Pigs
Head Like A Hole
Trent introducing Gary Numan & his influence on NIN’s music