NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Scarecrow thin and shadowing the ceiling of the Usher Hall like a towering Nosferatu, Nick Cave launches into the opening track, ‘We Know Where You Live’ from his outstanding new album Push the Sky Away, with little fuss and a great amount of confidence. An understated and beautiful start he barely pauses for breath in a set which manages to incorporate numbers from every era of his impressive oeuvre.
With the Bad Seeds restructured and providing license for him to perform his role without a safety net, they in turns rumble and rock, soothe and caress, thrill and enthral as each individual song demands providing a musical landscape which leaves Cave free to sulk and skulk, stalk and talk, crouch and tower as required.One minute ripping open the belly of the underside of life allowing the demi-monde to slither and slide then the next the tortured romantic, his words spill out in a variety of tones but each one overwhelmingly, unquestionably and utterly his own.
Thus we are entreated to a throbbing and unsettling ‘Tupelo’ a romantic ‘Into My Arms’, the reverential ‘quiet as a mouse’ hush of ‘God is in the House’, a skulking stalk on the wild side with ‘Stagger Lee’ and an exhilarating thrill of a ride in ‘The Mercy Seat’ which shows no mercy and is in need of a crash helmet and safety belt just to see it through to its shuddering, explosive conclusion.
It is an enrapturing show which proves conclusively-if proof were ever needed- that Cave belongs in that hallowed pantheon of rock nobility foraging their own path and a collection which includes Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Dylan, PJ Harvey, Bowie, Iggy and the recently departed Lou Reed, who could have been his spiritual father so much similar terrain do they cover. Able to blend the corporeal and cerebral seamlessly into his performance he shows the young pretenders how a rock star could and should behave. Like the aforementioned he has that all encompassing sense of belief permeating his work and is therefore able to take the audience with him on his journey through his extensive songbook and poetic observations.
From its understated and confident start through to its riveting conclusion of four encores, the energy levels never let up and throughout the band followed his lead as if they were snaking his movements and lyrics; which no doubt they probably were. At the shows end he left us wholly satisfied yet somehow still wanting more- he never played my favourite ‘The Ship Song’ but I didn’t feel in any way cheated by this- and this in itself is a talent that stands alone.