Archive for September, 2017


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Glasgow, SSE Hydro

This gig was already shrouded in controversy due to Cave agreeing to play in Tel Aviv. He is not alone in this however as Radiohead, The Pretenders and of course the King of Controversy, Morrissey have all played there recently and although it is expected that some of those listed can be a little-shall we say- misguided in their principles and beliefs at times Nick Cave always seemed, to me at least, to be navigated by a moral compass which lent itself to the right thing.
I did deliberate over whether to go or not but being a huge fan of Cave I eventually succumbed.
Quite a lot has changed in the two and a half years since I last saw Cave what with personal tragedy striking him in the most horrendous way and the trajectory of his profile with the general public increasing not only because of said tragedy, which featured heavily in the mainstream press, but also the inclusion of his music in the hit show Peaky Blinders which introduced him to a whole new audience.
This transference to the mainstream was abundantly clear from the size of the venue he appeared in last night and the gulf between this cavernous arena and the sweaty club I first saw him in is immeasurable.
Opening with a trio of songs from last year’s Skeleton Tree opus – The Anthrocene, Jesus Alone and Magneto- proved from the outset that Cave and his amazing band are more than adept at taking intimate songs of darkness and mournful fragility to such a vast audience and space. The sound was amazing- it lost a little of its customary warmth but that was more to where we were positioned than any lack of musical skill- and after this low key start creating a mood he was off into Higgs Boson’s Blues swiftly followed by a threatening From her to Eternity and a rumbling Tupelo.
This was followed by a riveting Jubilee Street, a mesmerising Ship Song and a beautiful Into My Arms.
The latter however was when I first noticed the change in Cave’s approach to his audience – a few uncharacteristically witty asides had preceded this- when he held his microphone out to the audience and let them sing the final chorus. It was a very moving and tender moment but it had the feel of Gothic Karaoke about it.
Things swiftly got back on track though and drawing from his impressive back catalogue we were entreated to such delights as an atmospheric Red Right Hand, the white knuckle ride of The Mercy Seat, a transcendent Distant Sky before finishing with Skeleton Tree.
Then we were into the encores!
This is where things started to go a bit wrong for me personally…
Starting with a powerful Weeping Song things were fine until Cave decided to attempt some sort of Iggy messianic, idolatory pose and disappeared into the crowd only to reappear again in the midst of them on a platform. Decidedly shaky on his legs he went into his preacher man role – I have seen him do this many times before successfully and convincingly- and within seconds he was surrounded by his adulating and adoring public who couldn’t believe their luck and did what is now expected of such situations and pulled out their phones and started snapping and filming away. Meanwhile the band played on as Cave played up to this and seemed to be enjoying it.
Things didn’t improve much for the next song Stagger Lee where making his way back to the stage he invited several of the locals with him so the rest of us were treated to the sight of rhythmically challenged wannabe’s crowding out the stage area and any tension of the song was lost amidst the mayhem. The closing number, Push the Sky Away, saw Cave back down amongst the audience again and once again an amazing song lost much of its impact due to the cheap theatrics.
I am not sure why Cave has chosen to pursue this Robbie Williams as Redcoat routine but whilst it is good to see him having fun- if anyone deserves fun after the tragedy he has suffered then it is him- but for me personally it cheapened the music by turning it into Karaoke and diminishing its mystique. I am sure for those who were close to their idol it was a great moment but the problem with vast arenas such as this is if you only play to one small section then inevitably you lose the interest and support of others.
Perhaps this is what we can expect from Cave from now on- next step Las Vegas maybe?- and certainly if anyone deserves recognition and success for his music then it is him. Up until the encore I admit his performance was flawless but despite this I felt a little bit of him was lost last night and I only hope he manages to find it again.


Just an Observation

Bypassing summer completely this year we seem to have arrived at an early mid-autumn and all that brings with it.
On the plus side a vast improvement in films at the cinema, television programmes other than just endless sport, slightly more reliable weather in keeping with the date on the calendar and a good reason to eat comforting foods- not that the latter ever requires any reason at any time of year really.
On the minus side the slightly darker evenings are just a precursor to seemingly permanent darkness, cold biting winds and rain, endless layers of clothes in a misguided attempt to stay warm, endless chats with everyone about how awful the weather is and an insatiable appetite for comfort food!
It also means that the parliamentary summer recess is over and once again we have to reconcile ourselves with seeing politicians we despise on the news on almost a daily basis.
I had almost wiped out the sight and sounds of Theresa May from my mind when up she popped last week and reminded me once again just how insincere, annoyingly delusional and smugly arrogant she actually is. Mind you she has some stiff competition from Jacob Rees-Mogg in all of the aforementioned categories and sometimes you wonder whether there is a competition within the Tory party to see just how misguided and evil it is possible to be and still somehow manage to get people to vote for you.
I find it all quite bewildering!
Both going out and staying in are preferable ideals at this time of year and as already mentioned cinematic offerings are infinitely preferable to the blockbuster fodder served up over the summer months.
One film definitely worth seeing, possible contender for film of the year, is Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country starring Josh O’ Connor and Alec Secareanu as mismatched lovers set against the bleak but beautiful Yorkshire landscapes. Annoyingly referred to as a British Brokeback Mountain, a lazy comparison which does this tender yet brutal film a disservice as the beauty and harshness of this film has more bite, genuine emotion and gritty realism than the aforementioned Hollywood fare, which only tipped its toe in the water by way of contrast.
A moving and oddly sentimental film which refuses to drown itself in schmaltz; God’s Own Country, like Weekend before it, shows a new sensibility in gay film making which steps out beyond the gay theme at their core to show a more universal approach to relationships in general.
In direct contrast to this the other great film out at the moment is Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky which really is a product of Hollywood although it is far from being mere Hollywood product.
Featuring a virtually unrecognisable Daniel Craig, who has stepped well out of his comfort zone, alongside Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Hilary Swank it is that old Hollywood staple, the heist film. Somehow it works and although it is totally fantastical it is a thoroughly entertaining and compelling film which does not insult your intelligence. Against all the odds I actually loved it!
Even television schedulers seemed to have lightened up to the fact that after being bombarded with sport over the summer months autumn is the time to return to drama. Rellik on BBC1 has some great promise as a small screen Brit version of Memento- the story unfolds in reverse- but was marred by the BBC affliction of bad sound-why can’t they apply this whenever Theresa May is on screen?- which along with the difficult narrative structure makes it hard to follow. I watched it again on iPlayer and it is certainly worth sticking with. Likewise ITV’S Safe House with Stephen Moyer and Ashley Walters is marred by the channel’s annoying adverts every five minutes stance which ruins any sort of atmosphere or tension.
Tonight also sees the return of the worthwhile Refugee Benefit Nights at Leith Depot and what a line up there is for their return; The Safari Surfers, Mattie Collins, The Omega Corridor and the Filthy Tongues’ front-man Martin Metcalfe in a solo outing. Looks like being a great night and for only £7.50 and for a good cause what is there not to like!
Image by Liz Tainsh.