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Monday, October 06, 2008

Nick Cave 9:30 Club October 5 2008 Washington DC concert review

A little background helps understand the author… I first came across the music of Nick Cave- much like a lot of great music- about 1994 when I purchased “Let Love In” no doubt spurred by the usual fawning reviews that accompany his releases… If positive reviews translated into sales Nick Cave would be the best selling musician of the modern age… In any case what great luck to begin with Let Love In which I still think may be his peak in a career full of them…It has all the great Cave trademarks be it that creepiness/gothic vibe (Red Right Hand), the rave up post-punk tunes (Jangling Jack) and the lyrical ultra romanticism (Nobody’s Baby).. Its accessible yet uncompromising… I played this one into the ground –literally… Also, one listen and you new that the musicians – the Bad Seeds- were top notch… After this I very quickly purchased an almost contemporaneous and somewhat limited “Live Seeds” which I was to learn was a live recording from the previous tour (1992 Henry’s Dream)… This introduced me to his “classics” and some of these were beyond astounding powerful performances were the sound just built into a crescendo and you thought the whole thing was just going to pretty much come undone/explode… Played that CD to death… Later that summer or next summer we drove off to West Virginia and unfortunately Nick Cave pretty much opened the Llollapalooza.. I cannot think of any less fitting stage to see Nick Cave than in the hot summer sun about 1 pm at Llollapalooza….Even worse we got there late so we caught about 1 or 2 songs as we wandered least that’s how I remember it…. To this day I don’t consider that I saw or heard Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds that day…. I think Mr. Cave was so put off by the whole bit of Llollapallooza that he pretty much ignored the United States for many years.. then when he did make it back I had to be out of town.. then a few more years passed…Anyways, I continued listening to his music and loved things like Murder Ballads, Boatman’s Call , the Lyre/Abbatoir (I do think there was a slight dip..but it was slight between Boatman’s and Lyre/Abbatori) and the new one Dig Lazarus Dig which I have been enjoying as I anticipated finally seeing him on this tour at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC.. it helps when there are songs on the new album such as Lotus Eaters or Midnight Man which hold up against the best of the man’s vast body of work… I had little doubt that Nick Cave would deliver the goods.. I was saddened of course that Blixa Bargfeld left the Bad Seeds a few years ago but I new that Warren Ellis, Mick Harvey et al would bring their A game… Still I don’t think I was quite prepared for what a great show we got last night… I’m not much for reviewing concerts but I suppose the set list had to help…Night of the Lotus Eaters is a great creepy vibe Cave track… Dig Lazarus Dig is just classic Cave speak song (an update on one of my favorites “Jangling Jack”).. The band was very tight and Cave’s voice was just about as good as it is on any of their records… he moved around the stage making eye contact and even physical contact with the crowd (particularly those close up)..he’s got an interesting and distinctive look going which almost makes him look like a character out of Zorro with that mustache and increasingly thinning/balding up on top but with plenty of hair on the sides… all very dark..the show was all dark.. not much light… people kept yelling “Release the bats!”…Then Cave tackled some classics like Weeping Song/Tupelo… Blixa was of course missed on Weeping Song but I was still glad he played it.. Following these he played what in my opinion is the more immediate and to my ears best track from the new album: Midnight Man and this positively rocked the house.. A rather pedestrian Love Letter followed.. never have quite gotten the hold of this one and there are far better Cave romantic tracks.. The Mercy Seat was a big highlight of the evening…the power of the song and the words magnified by Cave putting life and limb into the delivery… He definetly does a good job of almost acting out the delivery.. musical expressionism…or musical theater call it what you will..watching him at work it was clear that this was a man at the peak of his powers and I was gladdened to be able to say that while I missed him over the years when I finally got my chance to see him it was top notch…The DC crowd at the 9:30 was about as good a crowd as you’ll se in DC.. into it, singing the choruses and fist pumping (particularly up front) Cave some energy that is often missing from DC shows…Other highlights were Deanna, We Call Upon the Author (another great track from the new album) which was well served by some organ/keyboard lines.. by the way it looked to me like there were three keyboard/organ’s on stage… Cave played on two of them including Into My Arms… The last song of the main set Papa Won’t Leave You Henry was probably the highlight of the evening… really raved up stomping loud much like the version on Live Seeds… Cave came out again and played the aforementioned Into My Arms then joked about going into Ship Song.. I know some people detest this song but everyone seemed to want to hear it but Cave I realized was not going to follow one slow ballad with another and sure enough he faked us- at least me- out and went into Get Ready For Love.. The Lyre of Orpheus followed that and I thought maybe Cave was surprised the crowd didn’t know it better but who knows..some schmuck who asked for it mispronounced Lyre as Lir and Cave had some fun with that.. Who calls it Lir? Cave then closed the concert with a wonderful Stagger Lee.. I had not expected to hear this one and thoroughly enjoyed it…What a malleable song..when you compare Cave’s version to that of the Grateful Dead they just have pretty much nothing in common..Cave’s is harrowing/violent/sexual while the Dead’s is more of fun good time party song….and with that Mr. Cave bade us farewell…


Anonymous said...

It was a great show. I too have been a fan of the Bad Seeds since Let Love In. This was my first time seeing them and they rocked more than I ever would have guessed they would. 930 is a great place. My wife and I were up top stage right - on the rail. Cave made the openers look like a bunch of Bush Leaguers. The Bad Seeds all play well together in the loose but tight kind of way. This show goes down as one of the great ones.

Anonymous said...

I was at this show as well, with a few friends... We were the ones all the way up front, on the right, that kept calling for Mick.

Also, I think you're wrong about Lyre of Orpheus. Nick was like you've all gotta say-- and then us in the front shouted "OH MAMA!" and he smiled.

...Do you have anymore recordings?

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