Nine Inch Nails

Staples Center


In 2009 Trent Reznor declared he was done with Nine Inch Nails for the foreseeable future. Subsequently, he's carved out a successful second career as a film score composer, including winning the Oscar for The Social Network. Then there's his work with post-industrial outfit How To Destroy Angels, with his wife Mariqueen Maandig, composing partner Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan.

But earlier this year Reznor announced that not only were the reformed Nine Inch Nails going on tour, but there was a new album — September's Hesitation Marks — as well. (That month they also played the Troubadour.) After performing Thursday on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the group is entering into the homestretch of its Tension 2013 tour, which could also double as a 25th anniversary tour.

Friday's Staples Center show had visuals and theatrics to spare. Nine Inch Nails' elaborate light show featured three-dimensional lights projections onto a mesh screen in front of the band along with a huge backdrop behind it. Add to that the constant movements of the stage's light fixtures and you have something really impressive. At times it looked like the were performing inside of a steel cage.

Reznor has adopted a traditional rock star on-stage persona. When not constrained by a guitar or behind the keys, he was dancing, flailing his arms, and encouraging the crowd to clap along.

Credit: Timothy Norris

Credit: Timothy Norris

A good chunk of the set was culled from Hesitation Marks, but highlights included the metallic fury of songs like “Came Back Haunted,” “March of the Pigs” and “Terrible Light.” There were elements of Nine Inch Nails' traditional industrial sound, but also things like a surprise saxophone solo. Reznor clearly remains comfortable with experimentation.

Reznor finally addressed the crowd midway through the encore. After introducing his five-piece band and two background singers, he told a story about how the band recently started playing the following song at the request of one of his friends. He described the track as a deep one at the end of an album before dedicating a stirring version of “In This Twilight” to his friend Andrew who was in attendance. That Andrew is our friend Andrew Youssef, the OC Weekly photographer battling liver cancer.

Reznor was looking buff. It's clear that between marriage, sobriety and his composing, the past few years mellowed out the notoriously intense musician. He even cracked a grin a couple times. One gets the feeling that his mind is somewhat settled.

Random Notebook Dump I: Nine Inch Nails made the hollow Staples Center acoustics sound great. That's saying something.

Random Notebook Dump II: Things you don't expect to see at a Nine Inch Nails show: beach balls.

Set list below:

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Set list:

Copy of A


Terrible Lie

March of the Pigs


All Time Low


Came Back Haunted

Find My Way

Various Methods of Escape

La Mer

The Frail

The Wretched


In Two

The Big Come Down



A Warm Place

Somewhat Damaged


The Hand That Feeds

Head Like a Hole



Even Deeper

In This Twilight

While I'm Still Here

Black Noise


LA Weekly