Nine Inch Nails @ Bonnaroo 6.14.09

Nine Inch Nails played their last American show ever at Bonnaroo 2009. I felt extremely saddened when Trent announced that from the stage, but also had a weird sort of guilty pleasure at it. Kind of like how I hope Neutral Milk Hotel reforms and plays shows again… but if not, I saw Jeff Mangum’s last public performance. So in the same way, I’ll be sad if Trent never plays under the NIN banner again, but honored that I was there for the last American show.

And if it has to be the last US show ever, it was a fantastic one to end on. Aside from the omission of “Closer” (which had to hurt some singles fans who were catching the band for the first time), the setlist was pretty much everything you could ask from a Nine Inch Nails show. Early on we got a cover of Gary Numan’s “Metal” and a performance of “I’m Afraid of Americans,” the song Trent co-wrote with David Bowie. I’d never heard either of those live and was so excited that I stuck around too long and missed MGMT (probably not a great loss).

Before the encore break, Trent brought out the Dillinger Escape Plan to thrash through a great version of NIN-staple “Wish.” As you can see here, it was intense. Guitars were thrown, heads exploded, chaos reigned and it was beautiful.

And if that wasn’t enough, the encore brought out another great rarity, a cover of Joy Division’s “Dead Souls.” I didn’t know they’d recorded a cover of it for the Crow soundtrack in the ’90s, so it was an extra-special surprise for me. Then they closed out with “The Day the World Went Away” and “Hurt.”

Of the three NIN shows I’ve seen, it was easily the greatest. They didn’t have the best light show, but they brought a stripped-down, intense version of it that fit the mood of the show — no frills, all passion.

Lots more photos after the break.

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