Live Music Review: Nine Inch Nails European Tour

Nine Inch Nail's European Tour has now (sadly) come to an end. In our latest review, we recap the band's eclectic set performed at Amsterdam's AFAS Live. 

Photo credit: Rob Sneltjes

Photo credit: Rob Sneltjes

The venue 

AFAS Live, formerly the Heineken Music Hall, is a concert venue located just 30 minutes away from Amsterdam Central. The main auditorium, 'the black box' has a 6000 person capacity - just to give you an idea of the scale. 

Photo credits: AFAS Live.

Photo credits: AFAS Live.

The building has a small bar area, a stall for hot snacks and sweets and token machines. The 'black box' provides a combination of floor space and seating - ideal for both preferences. 

One of the major pluses of attending the gig at AFAS Live is that there were no long queues. Instead, there were multiple short cues through quick and efficient security that lead straight into the foyer. We picked up snacks and drinks and walked straight into the concert hall.

We arrived only 30 minutes prior to the start of the support band's set and yet we were close to the stage - more or less in the thick of the action!


The warm up

At around 7:30pm, the support band, Black Moth Super Rainbow, uneventfully arrived on stage to quickly set up and play a selection of experimental electronica. The 40 minute set went over okay with the crowd, some seemed to even enjoy it, but I could see that several audiences members (like ourselves) were simply waiting patiently for the main event.

Black Moth Super Rainbow will go down well with those who like pretentious art-house movies - personally, I didn't get anything from the performance. The complete lack of stage presence was numbing. The video projections, which looked as if they were created by a 15 year old art student, didn't help matters either. 

Also, the vocalist was completely reliant on voice distortion and had his head buried behind a screen for the entire set. Absolutely no interaction with the audience or intriguing ambience whatsoever. I found this somewhat disappointing, as it completely juxtaposes the deeply moving and notoriously rowdy vibe that NIN fans thrive upon. 


Photo credit: Nine Inch Nails.

Photo credit: Nine Inch Nails.

The band

As those who follow Nine Inch Nails are already aware, the line-up has had multiple changes over the years, however the current fixture seems to be set in stone for now, or at least has been for the last couple of years.

Trent Reznor - the very essence and creator of Nine Inch Nails, known globally for his songwriting, musicianship, music production and film scoring. One of the great pioneers of industrial metal and experimental rock music.

Atticus Ross - fellow musician, composer and producer Atticus Ross has been involved, behind the scenes, since 2005. Along with Trent Reznor and Trent's wife Mariqueen Maandig, Atticus is also a member of How To Destroy Angels

Robin Finck - Iconic lead guitarist who has been involved with the band for numerous years. Outside of Nine Inch Nails, Robin has also performed with Cirque De Soleil and Guns n Roses

Alessandro Cortini - A multi-instrumentalist who has performed on several NIN tours as well as being directly involved in the production of four studio releases. Alessandro has also worked with Ladytron and Puscifer

Ilan Rubin - A multi-instrumentalist that has been a permanent live fixture of the band since 2013. Ilan is often seen playing drums for NIN, however he has written for and performed with other bands such as Lost Prophets, Paramore and Angels and Airwaves


The set-list

Photo credit: Nine Inch Nails.

Photo credit: Nine Inch Nails.

It has to be said, the track selection for this gig was unbelievably on point.

It was the perfect mixture between new releases and old classics, thrashing stompers and hypnotic melodies.

It was unarguably a fresh, riveting show.

Included, of course, were three tracks from the new 'Bad Witch' EP; 'Shit Mirror', 'God Break Down the Door' and 'Ahead of Ourselves.'



The full set list in order of performance:

Branches / Bones


Copy of A

Less Than


Shit Mirror

Ahead of Ourselves

God Break Down the Door


The Lovers

Find My Way

The Day the World Went Away


The Beginning of the End

Gave Up

The Great Destroyer

Came Back Haunted


The Hand That Feeds

Head Like a Hole



The Stage

In the recent BBC6 interview with Trent and Atticus, Trent discusses how they opted for a striped back set up in terms of lighting and set design.

In all honesty, while I love the aesthetics and artistry that goes into the visual projections that were used in previous tours, the smoke and lighting sequences was all that was needed to enhance the atmosphere surrounding this performance. The band's energy alone blows audiences away world wide - NIN are a true symbol of rock'n'roll attitude, talent and music with purpose.


Photo credit: Rob Sneltjes

Photo credit: Rob Sneltjes

The Performance

As expected, the band were explosive as soon as they appeared on stage. The energy was absolutely electric and fans soaked it up. Reznor's distinctive voice resonated with unwavering passion. Fink's bad ass riffs simply tore through the space.

Atticus did a great job of injecting synths and effects while Alessandro played bass and keyboard. Every single member brought the familiar, enthralling sound to life in an otherwise vacuous space. 

When it comes to the delivery, I simply cannot think of a single fault. It was exactly what I had come to expect - and more. The wall of sound and nuances of discordant melody moved me throughout the performance. The sound engineering was pretty spot on too (kudos to the band and sound team). 

One moment I was head banging and jumping, the next I was dancing and clapping. Your interest and curiosity as to 'what's next' is piqued throughout set.

The show was longer than I had anticipated - roughly a good 2 hours long. Although, my feet were killing me and the deafening ringing in my ears corroborated with the show's duration, time seemed to just fly by. 

As an appreciator of musicianship and as a fellow Nine Inch Nails fan, overall I was extremely impressed and glad I was able to attend this particular show - everything from the performance to audience's energy was just amazing. Even Reznor was pleasantly surprised by the reception from the crowd when he stated "I was just thinking, we don't come here often enough" in reference to the Netherlands.


My only hope is that Nine Inch Nails confirm another European tour in the near future as undoubtedly, I would see them for a second (maybe a third, forth and fifth) time performing live.


Written by Brenda Adiyiah

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