Nine Inch Nails returned to their native Ohio to deliver a thunderous performance at Joe Walsh’s sixth annual VetsAid charity concert at Columbus’ Nationwide Arena.
Trent Reznor had two words when he received a phone call from Walsh about joining the bill. “I’m in,” he told the legendary guitarist. “You don’t understand what a big deal it is for Joe Walsh to be reaching out to me,” he shared with the Ohio crowd. “The first concert I ever saw was him. I love that dude, so I’m happy to be here.”
Opening with “Wish,” from 1992’s Broken, Reznor and the band launched an intense, strobe-heavy performance that was, as one might expect, a nearly constant sensory overload in all respects.
Working with a limited stage time like the other artists on the bill, the group constructed a tight 45 minute set list that admirably covered a lot of ground. Though a hoped-for cameo by Dave Grohl (who guested on 2005’s With Teeth) never materialized, it was hard to argue with the way things went down. Culminating with a fiery take on their signature “Head Like a Hole,” the subsequent “Hurt” was the perfect slow burn coda to the set.
The industrial rock band, which formed in Cleveland in 1988, performed alongside several other artists with ties to Ohio, including Grohl, the Black Keys and the Breeders. Walsh, who lived in Ohio in his youth and attended Kent State University, also performed solo and with the newly reunited James Gang.
Nine Inch Nails recently staged an original lineup reunion during their Sept. 24 show at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Former members Richard Patrick, Chris Vrenna, Danny Lohner and Charlie Clouser joined the band’s current lineup for a set-closing, six-song volley that included the tour debut of 1994’s “Eraser” and a cover of “Hey Man Nice Shot” by Patrick’s main band, Filter.
Although he no longer lives in Ohio, Walsh still has plenty of affection for the state and wanted to honor the seismic impact it had on his own music career. “It all started in Ohio,” he said in a statement. “Picking up my first guitar as a kid in Columbus set me on a musical journey to Kent State, Cleveland and then the world. … I believe in Ohio and look forward to celebrating our musical legacy while honoring our veterans with VetsAid 2022.”
Walsh founded VetsAid, the nonprofit organization and music festival, in 2017 to raise and disperse funds to veterans’ groups across the United States. A VetsAid livestream is available to purchase on the Veeps website for $19.99, and buyers can re-watch for 48 hours after the event begins. Fans who wish to support the organization can also make donations at the VetsAid website.
Nine Inch Nails 11/13/22 VetsAid Set List
2. “March of the Pigs
4. “The Lovers”
5. “Less Than”
7. “The Perfect Drug”
8. “The Had That Feeds”
9. “Head Like a Hole”