By CRAIG HAMMONS, Photos by ALYSON CAMUS
To witness a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds show is like having a spiritual rock and roll cleansing. He captures hearts and souls whether on the stage at The Greek or talking to an intimate crowd at The Egyptian.
Cave recently put on a riveting tour-ending performance at The Greek and also gave a heartfelt look into tragedy and recovery at a screening of One More Time With Feeling at The Egyptian.
When you see him, you will experience love, loss and redemption and come out feeling better at the end.
The Greek Performance
His sold-out tour-closing performance at The Greek showed a man who took life’s biggest tragedy, made peace with it and let his lyrical sentiments out for us all to receive. Before the show started everyone was in their seat as this was going to be a ride you have to experience from the start. The devoted fans in the pit were all standing in anticipation of the man who would get so close to them that you could feel his heartbeat.
Opening with three songs from last year’s emotional and raw Skeleton Tree the evening started on a calm note. “Anthrocene” led us in slowly with Nick’s stark vocals only to be followed by the eerie “Jesus Alone” in which Nick sings “… with my voice, I am calling you.” During “Magneto,” Cave made his first trip into the crowd holding on tight to the outstretched hands while singing about love. This is Nick Cave’s world and we are entering it to share his emotions, find the passion and embrace it.
‘Higgs Boson Blues’
The calm was about to change as we were now under the spell of this mic cord-whipping master of musical mayhem. “Higgs Boson Blues” almost hymnlike goes from a whisper to a howl when Cave and the audience sing “boom, boom, boom” as he grabs the hand of a fan and puts it on his chest. Next up from the Bad Seeds 1984 debut was the powerful “From Her to Eternity.” Smiling and sneering with savage grace Cave practically crawls across a sea of hands achieving sheer intensity while making the audience part of the show. At one point he was grabbed in the crotch and said that “this could be on the job sexual harassment.” On “Tupelo,” Cave delivers his message like a southern preacher hell bent on getting his message across.
It was now time to slow things down a bit with “The Ship Song,” about Cave finding love during his stay in Brazil. But next up was the beautiful love song “Into My Arms” written while Cave was still in rehab. The lyrics “I believe in love and I know you do too” touched the audience as they cheered and felt one of the many “wow” moments of the night. Those moments would not come without the Bad Seeds a machine that is complex in delivery but easy to feel its intensity. They are craftsmen that take all the right components to make music that affects us all. Add Caves dense and brooding lyrics which you could say boarders on the same greatness as Cohen, Bowie or Dylan and you got the right mates to deliver the goods with a level of showmanship that is hard to match.
Cave then came and sat at a chair at the end of the stage to sing “I Need You” one of the most heartfelt songs from “Skelton Tree” where he sings “nothing really matters when the one you love is gone”. You can hear the emotional pain in his voice as he sings his way through the darkness and heartbreaking loss that was so strong I had to wipe away the tears in my eyes.
The now classic “Red Right Hand” was next and delivered in true Bad Seeds-style of chaotic beauty. During “Distant Sky” Danish soprano Else Torp sang her part on the screen behind the band while wild multi-instrumentalist and Cave’s writing partner Warren Ellis plays a beautiful violin solo. The final song of the night was the album closer “Skeleton Tree”.
The encore started with “The Weeping Song” where Cave decided to go out and embrace the audience again before going into the full tilt frenzy of “Stagger Lee” where this time he went interactive by inviting about a 100 people to join him on stage. The song was written out of a long studio jam and has since become a staple in the set. It is about as ferrous as it gets. Cave said “God gave us “Stagger Lee” and they were pissing themselves with laughter when they did”.
The night ended with “Push Away the Sky” which Cave sings “And some people say it’s just rock and roll, Ah but it gets you right down to your soul.” Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touched our souls tonight and for a good portion or the audience they were able to touch him back.
Our colleague Alyson Camus was at The Egyptian, where Cave screened One More Time With Feeling. Read her work at NYC Live and Recorded.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with Cat Power
Greek Theatre – June 29, 2017