Skip to main content

That time Nine Inch Nails got cussed by TV presenters before playing the heaviest Glastonbury set ever

: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs at the Glastonbury festival at Worthy Farm on June 23, 2000 in Pilton, United Kingdom
(Image credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Having only billed a relative smattering of metal acts over its existence, Glastonbury's relationship with heavy music has been a complex one. Homing audiences who resonate more openly with frolicking at stone circles over banging their heads, it's meant that, until recent years, metal has taken a back seat when it's come to booking the line-up. 

Founder Michael Eavis even once stated that he didn’t think heavy metal artists were suitable to play at Glastonbury, which was why it was unsurprising to see Metallica's headline slot met so divisively in 2014. This wasn't the first time a heavier band was signed up for the legendary affair, though. In 2000, industrial heavyweights Nine Inch Nails topped the Other Stage, and judging by the reaction of the presenters introducing them on TV, they were hardly Glasto favourites themselves.

Towards the end of the recorded performance, the BBC editors even assumed viewers at home had surely seen enough, and cut away to a clip of DJ Jo Whiley before NIN's set had even finished. But what exactly happened in the set itself, you ask? Well, Nine Inch Nails shook the hallowed Somerset grounds to its very foundations, obviously. It was the heaviest performance the festival had ever seen to that point, and likely life-changing for many of its usual attendees who happened to watch the show. Just before the set, though, lovably silly comedy duo Adam and Joe, presenting for the BBC, thought they'd give the lowdown on what watchers at home could come to expect from this 'mysterious' group. 

"What could be more exciting than going over to Nine Inch Nails live on the Other Stage?" Joe Cornish began, with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "So here we go, a good time to make some tea because they're not very good, Nine Inch Nails".

Adam Buxton immediately chips in to save the day, noting: "Steady on, you can't say that about Reznor". 

Opening with Terrible Lie, NIN performed a variety of stunning songs from 1989's Pretty Hate Machine and 1994's Downward Spiral, including Down In It, Head Like A Hole, Sin and The Frail, among others. They also played the tracks Gave Up and Wish from their 1992 EP Broken and one cover, Suck, by Pigface. And it was brilliant. Trent Reznor 1-0 Adam and Joe, basically.

Playing alongside NIN at 2000's Glastonbury was The Chemical Brothers, Moby, Travis, Morcheeba, Basement Jaxx and David Bowie.

Fast forward and metal has become a welcome part of the yearly line-up. Across recent years, Glastonbury has seen the likes of Gojira, Hacktivist, Bring Me The Horizon and more find their place at Worthy Farm, supplying staggeringly good performances to muddied and moshing crowds. In 2017, the festival even launched its very own stage dedicated to the genre. Now, the festival is a viable option for all fans, metalheads included. And if moshing inside a sweaty, dimly-lit London tube carriage (aka the Earache Stage) doesn't tickle your fancy, then we don't know what will.

Watch a clip of the classic Nine Inch Nails set complete with BBC tomfoolery - below:

Liz Scarlett
Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music. '10 bands that rip off Black Sabbath but get away with it' is her favourite article she's written with Louder so far. When not writing, Liz enjoys various creative endeavours such as graphic design, as well as reading about rock’n’roll history, art and magic.