Nine Inch Nails are knee-deep in their Cold and Black and Infinite Tour, which has found the band performing in a series of intimate theaters across the US with The Jesus and Mary Chain. For those playing along at home, the tour setlists have varied wildly from night to night, and have included rarely played tracks such as “Happiness in Slavery,” “I Do Not Want This,” and “Now I’m Nothing,” and most notably the never-before-played single “The Perfect Drug.” Even though any touring act in their right mind would have settled into a respectable routine by now, the band has just performed “And All That Could Have Been” as the penultimate track of their encore set at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, marking the first time ever this extremely deep cut has been played.

We haven’t the words…

If you haven’t jumped straight to the video by now, check out James Tobin’s recording below:

For those unfamiliar, the track serves as the serpentine centerpiece to 2002’s Still, an obscure collection blending fresh instrumental passages with intimately deconstructed and reworked material from the band’s first three records. One of the most underrated and stunning works in the catalogue, Still serves as a companion piece to 1999’s magnum opus The Fragile, as well as the respective live document, suitably named after the track in question. “And All That Could Have Been” is also the only new track on the collection to feature vocals, and is one of the most cherished songs the band has laid to tape.

Unlike “The Perfect Drug,” Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor has never discussed playing it, though former live bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen allegedly confirmed that the song was rehearsed for the 2009 Wave Goodbye Tour. As such, devoted fans could only dream of hearing the song live in the flesh.

Is it possible that “And All That Could Have Been” will become a regular staple throughout the few remaining dates on the Cold and Black and Infinite Tour? Or, in true Nine Inch Nails fashion, will it appear just once, never to be heard again? Only time will tell, but we’re certainly grateful for this melancholy moment…

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