Waiting hours in the hot sun to purchase concert tickets back in May likely became worth it for many Valley music fans Thursday evening, when Nine Inch Nails kicked off the Cold and Black and Infinite tour with The Jesus and Mary Chain.
At the September 13 performance, which was also supported by Tobacco, Nine Inch Nails delivered many of the hits its fans have come to expect – plus a few more surprises.
Namely, the band opened with Broken. Yes, that Broken. The 1992 EP. In full.
Shrouded in smoke, the band – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini and Ilan Rubin – took to the stage to the EP’s opener, “Pinion.” But fans likely weren’t aware of what the band members had up their sleeves.
The group kicked things into gear with a fiery performance of “Wish,” before keeping things going with “Last.” But it didn’t stop there. Following the EP’s interlude, “Help Me I Am in Hell,” Reznor and his bandmates revived “Happiness in Slavery” for the song’s first performance since 1995.
Unlike the band’s 2008 Lights in the Sky and 2013 Tension tours, the Cold and Black and Infinite tour launch was a minimal affair. Similar to the band’s performances this past summer, the show was mainly reserved to the band’s performance with flashes of light and a few hints of color here and there.
Broken’s “Gave Up” was one of the first major glimpses of said color, with red and blue lighting at times enveloping the packed venue.
Once Broken’s hidden bonus tracks – covers of Adam and the Ant’s “Physical (You’re So)” and Pigface’s “Suck” – were finished, the band took things to The Downward Spiral’s “March of the Pigs.”
Being that the first 35-or-so minutes of the show were a nonstop barrage on fans and concertgoers, Nine Inch Nails then slowed things down with a more recent, electronic cut: Add Violence’s “The Lovers.” Contrasting much of the flashing lights of the more frantic cuts, the song’s visuals were scaled down to a calming purple light that shrouded the stage, after which the lights went green and the band kicked things in reverse once again for The Downward Spiral’s “Reptile.”
The next segment of the performance was dedicated to more recent cuts. The first two – the Bad Witch tracks “—- Mirror” and “Ahead of Ourselves” – kept in line with the vibe of much of the band’s classic material that preceded, featuring harsh, noisy and abrasive industrial textures.
Also featured was a performance of “This Isn’t the Place,” from 2017’s Add Violence. Reznor acknowledged the song to have been about a friend, which was revealed to be David Bowie when the band transitioned to a cover of Bowie’s 1997 Earthling cut “I’m Afraid of Americans,” which Reznor once remixed.
At this point over an hour into the set, Reznor and his bandmates delivered some of Nine Inch Nails’ most prominent 2000s hits. The first, Year Zero’s “Survivalism,” was acknowledged by Reznor to be another song about the end of the world. This cut preceded With Teeth’s “Only” and “The Hand That Feeds.” Finally, the band concluded with Pretty Hate Machine’s “Head Like a Hole.”
An encore performance featured Add Violence’s “Less Than” and The Fragile’s “The Day the World Went Away.” Then, the band concluded – as is tradition – with The Downward Spiral’s “Hurt,” an emotional moment where much of the crowd passionately sang along with Reznor’s poignant lyrics.
After “Less Than,” Reznor took a moment to thank The Jesus and Mary Chain for coming along for the ride, cracking a joke about how the Jim and William Reid-founded band had once brought Nine Inch Nails along on a tour “300 years ago.”
The Cold and Black and Infinite tour marks a significant moment in the two bands’ careers, as Reznor’s joke is in reference to 28 years ago, when in 1990 The Jesus and Mary Chain was the one bringing Nine Inch Nails along as a supporting act. The two previously hit the Valley together for a 1990 show at Celebrity Theatre.
“We’re The Jesus and Mary Chain and we’re gonna play you some tunes,” vocalist Jim Reid said frankly Thursday night, before the band kicked into gear with the Honey’s Dead opener “Reverence.”
“I want to die just like Jesus Christ,” he sang passionately, as the song’s driving Madchester-inspired beat and droning guitars hit the audience’s ears.
Throughout the set, the band performed a number of songs both old and new, with minimal, flashing lights akin to the Nine Inch Nails set that would follow. Ranging from Damage and Joy’s “Amputation” to Automatic’s “Head On” and Psychocandy’s “In a Hole,” the set likely gave new fans a succinct peek into the group’s 30-plus year discography.
Notably omitted was arguably the band’s most famous song, Psychocandy’s “Just Like Honey.” But that didn’t matter, as the band’s musicianship was tight and songs still well selected. The set concluded with the final track from 1998’s Munki, “I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Tobacco opened the evening with a brief selection of cuts spanning his 2010s output. Hailing from Pennsylvania, the musician, born Thomas Fec, kicked things off with the 2016 Sweatbox Dynasty song “Human Om,” following it up with “Streaker” and “Lipstick Destroyer,” both from 2014’s Ultima II Massage.
Though Fec did not perform with a full band as he does for some headlining shows, he was joined by frequent collaborator and fellow Black Moth Super Rainbow bandmate The Seven Fields of Aphelion. Surrounded mostly by darkness, the two performed Tobacco’s trademark warped songs alongside screens displaying strange spliced together footage and odd music videos, such as the very NSFW Eric Wareheim-directed “Streaker” video.
The set neared its conclusion with “Stretch Your Face,” known to some as the theme song for HBO’s Silicon Valley, and “Creepy Phone Calls,” both of which are standouts from 2010’s Maniac Meat. The set concluded with Tobacco’s cover of Eric Carmen’s 1987 song “Hungry Eyes,” released just a week before the tour.
The September 13 Cold and Black and Infinite tour kickoff marked the first of a lengthy string of tour dates, with one other set for Comerica Theatre Friday, September 14. And if a front-to-back performance of Broken is just one hint at what Nine Inch Nails had in store for the tour, fans will soon find out what the rest of the dates have prepared.
Can’t Count on Her
Gods in Heat
Stretch Your Face
Creepy Phone Calls
Hungry Eyes (Eric Carmen cover)
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Black and Blues
Blues from a Gun
All Things Must Pass
Some Candy Talking
War on Peace
In a Hole
I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll
Nine Inch Nails
Help Me I Am in Hell
Happiness in Slavery
Physical (You’re So) [Adam and the Ants cover]
Suck (Pigface cover)
March of the Pigs
Ahead of Ourselves
This Isn’t the Place
I’m Afraid of Americans (David Bowie cover)
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole
The Day the World Went Away