New York City’s Panorama Music Festival closed out its sophomore year with a bone-rattling performance from Nine Inch Nails last night (July 30) on Randall’s Island. Three shows into a return to the stage following a two-year break, Trent Reznor and company performed a pair of songs from their new Add Violence EP, revisited their tender David Bowie cover, and tore through their standard hits catalog over the main stage set.
“I think every minute since [agreeing to play Panorama] has been filed with anxiety leading up to this moment right here,” Reznor joked midway through the set, during one of his rare audience addresses, in which he recounted taking up AEG Live’s offer to close out the fest in one of its first shows back.
If there was any rust, the audience hardly noticed. Nine Inch Nails is a fierce, super-synchronized live force, from every Reznor growl to jackhammer synth pulse. Alongside relatively new keyboardist-bassist Atticus Ross (who joined on for NIN’s current EP trilogy) drummer Ilan Rubin was a particularly imposing force, setting the tone early on with driving percussion through the opening sweep of “Branches/Bones” into “Wish.”
In a more somber moment, Reznor opened up about losing his friend David Bowie: “Last year we took a song of his off his last album Blackstar and reworked it really just to process the loss for ourselves. He meant the world to us, musically and as a person.” Below, watch NIN’s minimal cover of “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” which it introduced back on July 19 in its first show back.
Nine Inch Nails saved the bigger hits for the very end, ending the proper set with “The Hand That Feeds” and “Head Like a Hole” — to predictably raucous response — and then returning for a one-song encore with “Hurt.” The set list was very similar to the tour’s previous two, but for the numerous NIN-shirted fans who’d staked out stageside spots hours earlier, that hardly mattered.
Nine Inch Nails’ next previously-scheduled gig comes Sept. 15 at Chicago’s Riot Fest, but New York fans are getting a surprise second chance; they just announced a surprise club show at Webster Hall tonight (July 31).
Here’s the set list from the show, via Setlist.fm:
March of the Pigs
Something I Can Never Have
Copy of A
I Can’t Give Everything Away (David Bowie cover)
The Great Destroyer
Burning Bright (Field on Fire)
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole