10,000 Lies: Nightclubbing

PHOTO: Nine Inch Nails Live @ House Of Blues - Atlantic City, New Jersey, 11.06.08 (with surprise guest Peter Murphy) on Flickr by Rob Sheridan CC BY-NC-SA

One of the joys of being a Nine Inch Nails fan is getting to hear Trent Reznor rock out on just about every instrument you can imagine. But I think I have more fun listening to the man play piano than just about anything else. And nowhere in the NIN catalog are his piano chops more fun to listen to than in the band’s cover of Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing”. Don’t believe me? Check it out on YouTube and see/hear it for yourself.

“Nightclubbing” was recorded as part of four-song radio show during the 2006 tour that the band did with Bauhaus. And perhaps I’m biased because this particular set was recorded in Boston, but I think it’s the best of the four radio performances Trent did that summer. It runs the gamut musically—beginning with a new take on the David Bowie arrangement of “Reptile” with Peter Murphy on vocals, continuing with the Daniel Miller cover “Warm Leatherette”, peaking with a haunting take on Murphy’s “Strange Kind of Love”, concluding with “Nightclubbing”—and running the gamut musically is one of the things I adore about what Trent Reznor does with Nine Inch Nails.

What’s especially striking to me about “Nightclubbing” is how bright and mischievous the piano playing is. It’s a lot more lighthearted than anything I would have expected out of Trent prior to this. Part of that is, of course, the fact that it’s an Iggy Pop song. But another part of it is that Trent is letting loose. In introducing the band during the radio shows they played that summer, he only once introduced them as Nine Inch Nails (and that wasn’t at the Boston show). Free from the constraints of what NIN was traditionally supposed to be, he and the group he decided to jam with each night were free to do whatever they felt like musically. And I have to believe that was liberating.

I also believe that it was these shows that led to the further exploration of strange themes on Ghosts I-IV. But maybe that’s just me.

Let me know what you think in the comments.