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Nine Inch Nails Live: Tension 2013 - BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida (Concert Review)

Updated on September 15, 2016

NIN Albums

"Pretty Hate Machine" (1989)

"The Downward Spiral" (1994)

"The Fragile" (1999)

"With Teeth" (2005)

"Year Zero" (2007)

"Ghosts I-IV" (2008)

"The Slip" (2008)

"Hesitation Marks" (2013)

"Wave Goodbye" Tour logo
"Wave Goodbye" Tour logo | Source

So much for a "farewell" tour...

It has been four years since Nine Inch Nails (NIN) toured live, but that certainly does not mean that they forgot how to put on an incredible show. After releasing "The Slip" in 2008, the band announced they would be going on hiatus following a farewell tour. Front man Trent Reznor promised he would continue to write and record music, but performing live would be put to rest. The tour was named "NIN/JA 2009" including the supporting act Jane's Addiction and the final show was played on September 10, 2009.

As promised, taking a break from touring didn't keep Reznor from the studio. Alongside Atticus Ross, he composed the soundtrack to 2010's "The Social Network" for which they earned several awards including the Golden Globe for Best Original Score and the Academy Award for Original Score. The very next year Reznor and Ross teamed up with director David Fincher once again for the score of the film "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo".

NIN fans rejoiced as the album "Hesitation Marks" was released on September 3, 2013 along with the first single from the record "Came Back Haunted". Some long-time fans of the group voiced disappointment in the record stating that it was too "pop sounding" in comparison to older NIN material. Although more upbeat, there is no mistaking Reznor's brilliant songwriting and musical techniques. Songs from "Hesitation Marks" would take up much of the set lists during the bands comeback tour "Nine Inch Nails Live: Tension 2013" which kicked off on July 26, 2013 at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan.

"And the Oscar goes to..."

Opening Act: Gary Numan


Gary Numan - Setlist

1. "Resurrection"

2. "I am Dust"

3. "Metal"

4. "Everything Comes Down to This"

5. "Here in the Black"

6. "Pure"

7. "Cars"

8. "Love Hurt Bleed"

9. "A Prayer for the Unborn"


"Here inside I like the metal - don't you..."

After hearing rumors that Gary Numan would be the opening act for the show, I remained skeptical. But - after hearing his unmistakable voice pierce through the arena - the rumors were confirmed. The synthesizer-heavy music sounded incredible live although Numan's voice seemed a bit shaky throughout his set. His energy and spunk was absolutely apparent as he bounced around the stage and tossed his microphone stand around like a whip.

Considered one of the pioneers of the electronic music movement, Numan's popular song "Cars" had the audience roaring. (The live rendition reminded me more of Fear Factory's cover than Numan's more "poppy" original 1979 version. It is featured on their album "Obsolete" and features Numan. It's work checking out if you haven't hear it.) The song "Metal" seemed to be the most popular track with the crowd in the arena. That could simply be because NIN did an excellent cover of that song on their shortened album "Things Falling Apart". I was hoping Trent would join for this performance, but their duet would come a bit later in the show.

Album featuring "Metal"


Main Event: Nine Inch Nails


Live Band Line-Up

Trent Reznor - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards

Robin Finck - Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Alessandro Cortini - Keyboards, Programming, Guitar, Backing Vocals

Pino Palladino - Bass

Ilan Rubin - Drums, Cello

Lisa Fischer - Backing Vocals

Sharlotte Gibson - Backing Vocals

"Doesn't it make you feel better..."

While crews work to set up the equipment after the opening act, a blackout curtain was hung across the front of the stage. The lights in the arena went down and the huge LED screen taking up the entire back of the stage was lit as the black curtain was quickly pulled away. The second single from "Hesitation Marks" titled "Copy of A" kicked off the show. The track was a perfect way to get the crowd excited, with a slow yet catchy hook leading into a beat-heavy, fun chorus. "1,000,000" was up next and was primarily used to show off what was to come regarding the amazing light show that would continue throughout the night.

Three fan favorites were up next. "Terrible Lie" from the album "Pretty Hate Machine" started with a bang, causing the crowd to jump out of their seats to sing along. ("Hey God! Why are you doing this to me?") One of NIN's greatest live songs "March of the Pigs" kept the show moving along and as a heavier fan-pleaser it had the crowd on the floor throwing elbows and finally starting to mosh to the music. To round out the older hits, "Piggy" crept from the stage and Reznor's vocals were perfection. It seemed as if it was one of those songs that just never gets old - not even for the creator and live band who have performed it hundreds of times.

Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor | Source

"Terrible Lie", "March of the Pigs", "Piggy", "All Time Low"


Production Design

The production design for the Tension 2013 Tour was put together by Moment Factory (Super Bowl halftime show, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Jay-Z) and NIN's tour design regular Roy Bennett. Bennett also worked with NIN during the "Lights in the Sky" tour of 2008 and also designed the stage effects for the tour for How to Destroy Angels, a band that also includes Trent Reznor along with his wife Mariqueen Maandig who provides lead vocals for the group.

"Came Back Haunted"

Following the block of well-known songs came four back-to-back tracks off of the newest album. It was surprising at how long the blocks of newer music were and the audience made it quite obvious those songs were not what they were there to hear. They danced, but the lack of singing was apparent. "All Time Low" drifted into the audience with the beautiful addition of the backing vocalists Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson. They added a unique element to the songs and mixed shockingly well with Trent Reznor's own voice.

Replicating the track list on the album, "Disappointed" was up next and kept up with the newer, lighter sound of NIN. The grinding guitars and quickened-pace kept everyone's heads bobbing along to the beat. "Came Back Haunted", the first single off of the new album seemed to come as a relief to the crowd as the energy was reignited. Prison-like screens now separated the musicians at three layers of the stage. Each screen displayed a different, transparent image and traveled seamlessly with the show. Bright reds were shut out by bursts of white static with the silhouettes of the band members breaking through the screens.

"Find My Way" would end the blast of new music - a haunting song that once again allowed Reznor to show off his vocal ability and genius songwriting. This track sounded phenomenal live and really reflected his soundtrack compositions. It was a passive yet wonderful part of the live show.

Despite the unfamiliarity of the newer music, the show was not any less entertaining. The stage show alone kept the crowds attention even if they were not singing along with each and every word. Above the stage, an impressive and advanced lighting rig moved up and down during the show, changing colors, shapes and blinking in sync with the music.


A softer version of the already mild "Sanctified" followed the new music block, but still kept the measured pace. Fans of NIN's older work sang along while the younger crowd sat this song out. (Darn kids! "I am justified! - I am purified! - I am sanctified!") The reminiscing was short-lived as another new song "I Would For You" began and set another awesome light display into motion. Moving up and down in the air, the lighting rig shifted throughout the song as the band played underneath.

With the arena coated in darkness, the sounds of a piano drifted into the crowd and the audience shrieked with excitement at the familiar tune. A single light shown down from the rafters and illuminated Trent Reznor standing at a keyboard as he played the alluring track "The Frail" from the album "The Fragile". The rest of the band joined in one at a time and as expected "The Wretched" roared on. Hearing these songs together on the album is always an awesome listen, but hearing and seeing them performed live is a breathtaking experience. The heavy pulsing boomed through the crowd with everyone (me included) shouting along. ("NOW you know - this is what it feels like!")

"The Frail/The Wretched"


"Hesitation Marks" tracks "In Two" and "Running" were separated by another "The Fragile" song titled "The Big Come Down" and had the crowd slowing down a bit once again. This block of the show was a bit too slow for most of the audience's taste it seemed as I noticed many people around me taking several trips to the bar and restroom during the next few songs. "A Warm Place" and "Somewhat Damaged" were then thrown into the mix, two lesser-known songs from previous albums. The slow-down seemed uplifted for just a moment with a instrumental version of "The Day the Whole World Went Away". Although I was hoping to hear that song in it's entirety, the smooth interpretation was a nice rest before what was ahead. It was used as an obvious break for the band and stage crew to prepare.

"Wish", "Hand That Feeds", Head Like A Hole"


It was time to give the audience what that came for. A hard-hitting block of music that would lead into the encore. First up, the audience bellowed with excitement as the rapid beating drums cued the start of fan-favorite "Wish". The heavy song had the floor crowd moshing once again in multiple spots while everyone in their seats were standing to sing along. ("Wish there was something real in this world full of you!")

The well-known radio hit "The Hand That Feeds" was up next and had the mob on the floor dancing. Lights and the screens sparkled along with the up-beat track and hardly needed Reznor to sing the lyrics as the fans voices echoed through the hall. (That included my significant other who knew very few songs - but he sure knew this one!)

Of course, the only way to end an intense block of music is with what is arguably NIN's most popular song - "Head Like A Hole". Reznor stepped back for the chorus and let the fans do all the work as everyone sang in unison. ("Bow down before the one you serve - you're going to get what you deserve...") As the song ended, the lights went dark and a screen with the basic NIN logo was left before the audience as they chanted desperately for an encore.



Before attending the show I made the rookie mistake of searching online for NIN's basic setlist for this tour. Coming back for an encore, I had expected to hear a half a dozen different songs, but they crushed my an excellent way. With tiny green tinted lasers blinking into the air, the subtle ticking sounds of the song "Reptile" broke through the applause. As the track began, Reznor started off the first verse and suddenly another familiar voice chimed in - Gary Numan.

Numan joined NIN on stage for not only "Reptile", but also for a cover of one of his own songs titled "We Take Mystery (to Bed)". For that song, Reznor left Numan at the front of the stage while he took his place at the keyboard.

As the song ended, Reznor stepped back up to the primary microphone and thanked Numan for his influence over the electronic music genre and how strong of an influence he had been since Reznor was young. It was a truly genuine, moving moment and let the audience understand how much Gary Numan meant to NIN as a whole. (Numan was NOT on stage for this recognition. Reznor stated that he had purposely waited for him to leave the stage so he didn't embarrass him!)



The show went on with the lesser-known song "Even Deeper" off of the album "The Fragile". Following that, NIN closed out their promotion of "Hesitation Marks" with two more newer songs - "While I'm Still Here" and "Black Noise". The audience remained engaged and humming along after being invigorated by the blasting start to the encore and swayed back and forth to the once again more passive tracks.

"Black Noise" faded to a close and the lights once again went to black. As the crowd waited somewhat patiently and surprisingly quiet, they listened as the sound of a soft guitar strumming broke into the silence accompanied by Reznor's whisper-like singing. The audience erupted with excitement as they instantaneously recognized the song...

"I hurt myself see if I still feel..."

Covered by the late Johnny Cash, "Hurt" is a song that holds an extensive amount of meaning in its lyrics and resonates throughout NIN's entire fan base. Personally, the song brought me to tears hearing it live. It reminds me of one of my best friends that passed away years ago from a drug overdose. The emotion was apparent and could be felt by everyone as the song played on and the crowd sang along with Reznor's hushed voice.

On the massive screen behind the band scrolled several black and white videos and pictures showing different scenes from people in desolate conditions, animals and a close-up shot of the face of a snake.

After a short pause, the song came to a booming close with it's final words and the LED screens shone a bright white, putting a spotlight on the entire arena. A fantastic close to an equally fantastic concert. ("I would find a way...")


Nine Inch Nails - Sunrise, Florida Setlist

Yeat Released
"Copy of A"
Hesitation Marks
The Slip
"Terrible Lie"
Pretty Hate Machine
"March of the Pigs"
The Downward Spiral
The Downward Spiral
"All Time Low"
Hesitation Marks
Hesitation Marks
"Came Back Haunted"
Hesitation Marks
"Find My Way"
Hesitation Marks
Pretty Hate Machine
"I Would For You"
Hesitation Marks
"The Frail"
The Fragile
"The Wretched"
The Fragile
"In Two"
Hesitation Marks
"The Big Come Down"
The Fragile
Hesitation Marks
"A Warm Place"
The Downward Spiral
"Somewhat Damaged"
The Fragile
"The Hand That Feeds"
With Teeth
"Head Like A Hole"
Pretty Hate Machine
"Reptile" (feat. Gary Numan)
The Downward Spiral
"We Take Mystery (to Bed)" feat. Gary Numan
!, Assassin (Gary Numan)
"Even Deeper"
The Fragile
"While I'm Still Here"
Hesitation Marks
"Black Noise"
Hesitation Marks
The Downward Spiral

What about YOU?

Have you ever seen NIN in concert?

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A few misses...

My biggest complaint about the show was how much of it involved "new" music. I understand the primary objective of an artist touring after a new album is to get the new music out there for everyone to hear. BUT - when it comes to a band with such an extensive and popular catalog of songs, my feeling is that the crowd is there to hear SOME new stuff, but mostly the classic songs they have listened to 1,000 times and wish to hear live. An example from this particular concert would have to be the song "Closer". While it's not particularly my favorite NIN song, it's undeniably one of the most recognizable and is still played quite a bit on the radio.

Songs I would have liked to hear: "Only", "Gave Up", "Sin", "Discipline"


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    • Tygher41 profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Carroll 

      5 years ago from Boynton Beach, FL

      Learn Thigns Web: "Hesitation Marks" has really grown on me. I understand what people don't like about, but I still enjoy it and appreciate the complexity of the songs. I recommend giving it a listen!

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      JC Jehan 

      5 years ago from California

      I haven't had a chance to listen to Hesitation Marks yet but I got a free download of Copy of A when Amazon was offering it and it's really good. Seeing this hub reminded me that I need to give it a listen on Spotify.


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