Before this gig, I’d never had the chance to see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds live, so I was part over excited, part intrigued about the prospect of a Cave solo show. The show wasn’t a solo show in the sense that it was Cave alone: he was joined by Bad Seeds past and present, Barry Adamson, Martyn Casey, Thomas Wydler and Warren Ellis, more of whom later. What we got was two hours of classic after classic and this show was one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long time.
The gig kicked off with Water’s Edge from 2013’s Push The Sky Away with Cave seated at the piano centre stage, Ellis perched to the left hand side surrounded by a battery of instruments and the remaining band perched on risers at the back. The song provided a suitably brooding start to proceedings and was, quite marvellously, followed by a Cave solo version of The Weeping Song which was just perfect. Red Right Hand came next and blew the roof off the venue. The sheer power of this song live is a remarkable thing and it took my breath away.
Cave then left the piano for a couple of songs (Brompton Oratory introduced as “as never played before piece of mid period Cave” and Higgs Boson Blues) during which he prowled the stage from side to side, transfixing the audience with his black clad preacher of doom proclamations. The audience’s proximity to the stage meant Cave was able to have a girl from the audience touch his heart as he sat in front of her singing the latter song’s closing “Can you feel my heart beat” and she looked suitably thrilled. The next track Mermaids was dedicated to her.
We then returned to a quiet/loud part of the show. The quiet part was a mesmeric Cave solo The Ship Song which is one the most beautiful tracks in the Nick Cave back catalogue. A real spine tingling, tear jerker, this version was one of the highlights of the show. Another highlight soon followed as the band played an incredible version of From Her To Eternity with Warren Ellis playing an astounding feedback violin part which is one of the loudest things I’ve heard. Cave introduced the song as “the first song the Bad Seeds ever recorded – so I’m told.” Throughout the show the band were, as you would expect, superb, but Ellis really stood out. Playing, amongst other things, guitar, flute, accordion and violin, it was hard not to pay more attention to him than Cave himself. He’s a remarkable musician. I Let Love In, a superb Love Letter and Into My Arms followed before Cave was prowling the stage again for a crunching Up Jumped The Devil. The main set then concluded with We Real Cool, Black Hair, another Cave solo and another spine tingler The Mercy Seat and a breath-taking Jubilee Street which sounded louder and angrier than on Push The Sky Away which was no bad thing at all.
As the band came out for the encore, the first few rows of the fully seated venue sprung towards the stage, leading Cave to ask what everyone wanted to hear. Given that he’d previously said he couldn’t understand the various things the crowd were shouting at him, this was a bold move and no consensus was reached unsurprisingly. We No Who U R was the track the band settled on and it was superb; mesmeric and groove driven and something of a singalong. A cover of Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche as played on the band’s debut followed before a rousing version of the superb Breathless got everyone on their feet. The pace slowed again with God Is In The House which was followed by the last two songs of the night; an epic Jack The Ripper and a frantic The Lyre Of Orpheus both of which brought the show to an end perfectly. I could easily have stayed on for another two hours of this but all good things must end.
The power of Cave’s music both in terms of the sound itself and the lyrics is something to behold on record, but, as I discovered for the first time last night, one, two or maybe three extra dimensions are added when it’s played live. This gig was a remarkable thing and one that will live long in the memory. I’d seriously recommend that you go and see this tour.