I was really pushing my luck when I bought my ticket for this show. This was the third time that I would have to travel to London in the space of less than two weeks (the other two were humorously Oasis and Blur. For the record, Blur were far superior). Mum and Dad were less than impressed. I most certainly was though because I was finally getting to see Nine Inch Nails live. Unfortunately, this was their Wave Goodbye tour, billed at the time as the band’s retirement from live performance. We know now that this was complete rubbish because they were touring again just four years later. However, I wasn’t to know, so I had to be there.
Trent Reznor’s decision to step down from touring was undeniably sincere at the time of the show, which made a point of being very retrospective and sentimental. You could see this before the band even took to the stage. On earlier tours, they had brought with them intricate stages and flashy screens, but this time around it was nothing but white lights on the band – it was all about getting to see them for the last time. They also dug up some peculiar obscurities such as ‘Reptile’, ‘The Big Come Down’ and their debut single ‘Down In It’. Shockingly, in sticking with being a show very much for the fans, they didn’t perform ‘Closer’.
They even opened the show with the rarely performed and never even released early song ‘Now I’m Nothing’. Continuing with downsizing of the stage show, the band took to the stage and started playing before the house lights even went down. It took a moment for many people to notice that Trent was even on the stage. The house lights suddenly dropped, and the sickening plethora of strobe lights activated as the heavy guitar kicked in.
I remember being a little disappointed that we didn’t get to hear ‘Somewhat Damaged’ or ‘Mr Self Destruct’, but after they had performed two other album openers (‘1,000,000’ and ‘Terrible Lie’), it was evident that they weren’t coming. I also recalled being slightly disappointed when I looked at some of the setlists that had come earlier on the tour. In the ‘knowledge’ that Nine Inch Nails wouldn’t be performing again, I felt that they were wasting time on covers. A mainstay was ‘Metal’ by Gary Numan. I found myself unable to complain anymore though when Numan himself came onstage to perform with him. The crowd when especially ecstatic when they then performed ‘Cars’.