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Nine Inch Nails digs "Downward" at farewell NY gig

By Jonathan Cohen
/ Source: Reuters

By Jonathan Cohen

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Nine Inch Nails fans in New York got more than they bargained for Sunday, when the rock band played its 1994 classic "The Downward Spiral" in its entirety for the first time ever.

The Trent Reznor-led act, on a "Wave Goodbye" tour of small venues, had the 1,000-strong crowd at Webster Hall drenched in sweat within minutes of launching into the punishing rock of "Mr. Self Destruct."

It was soon clear that the band was plowing through "Downward" in sequence." Reznor later told the audience, "I've always wanted to play that whole record, and this seemed like the time to do it."

The "Downward" sequence of course featured Nine Inch Nails' iconic single "Closer," which wasn't played the night before during the band's stop at the 550-capacity Bowery Ballroom, and finished with the hushed "Hurt," which became known to an entirely different audience thanks to Johnny Cash's memorable 2002 cover version.

Once "Downward" was completed, NIN played 10 more songs without an encore, including "Suck," "The Hand That Feeds" and its breakthrough 1989 hit, "Head Like a Hole."

The NIN farewell tour continues Tuesday and Wednesday at New York's Terminal 5, and wraps September 6 at Los Angeles' Echoplex. The band had originally planned to bow out of live performances after a summer tour with Jane's Addiction, but Reznor said that since "we had to rush through sets due to a limited allotted set length and many shows were in daylight, it just didn't feel right to end NIN that way."

Reznor has not given specific details about what he plans to do following the tour's conclusion.