I’ve never called myself a Nick Cave fan, but I have always listened to his music, bought his albums.
And yet I had never seen him live.
Not because I didn’t want to, it’s just the stars hadn’t aligned that way. And in recent years he hasn’t toured that much.
When it was announced he was going to play in Newcastle, I was excited, but it was the ‘Tin Shed’ (Newcastle Entertainment Centre) and it was expensive, and I thought a bit too long and didn’t get tickets. As the gig grew closer I found out there were tickets left and they were not as expensive as I had thought. By this stage, I was on my lonesome but didn’t want to miss out so I got a ticket.
I didn’t really think about it all until a day or two prior, when I sat down with my CDs, and kinda realised I probably was a fan, and this was going to be incredible. The excitement set in. I decided against playing anything leading up to the concert, as he had such a back catalogue, I would only be disappointed if particular songs were not played. I wanted to be pleasantly surprised.
And so came the evening of the concert, and I was excited beyond belief, and a little anxious...heading to a venue solo is always a little challenging. But once I was seated – fabulous seat too, front row to the left of the stage behind the GA area – I felt great, happy, and excited.
I love that lead up to a concert starting, and like to be seated well and truly before things start. You can feel the anticipation as the room fills. Watching the range of ages and types of people rock in and take their seats, it is interesting and exhilarating.
And soon the lights lowered and a ripple of acknowledgement and excitement went through the stadium. Out came The Bad Seeds one by one, Warren Ellis last. Then a pause, and the crowd roared as Nick took stage, and boom right into it they went with Anthrocene from the new album.
The first 5 or 6 songs were what I call the super dark, doom and thundery Bad Seeds type songs. Where Nick is preaching, and gesturing, and intensely giving it every inch of his body whilst the band bang and clang and support his every move with a cacophony of deep, dirty, dark sounds. It is something to behold! Every inch of you body is taken within the sound and you are transported to the stage wherever you are seated. I was truly transfixed and every hair on my body stood at attention!
Oh and it was truly sexy too, he just exudes it, even from where I sat.
So much so, his adoring fans close up must have been a little bit too much hands on, as he asked them to settle and laughed that it was harassment in the workplace. As he stepped away from their grasp, he muttered he should start a support group, he was sure Chris Martin would be in on that!
And there it was...completely unexpected...humour...and lots of it on and off through the evening. I guess due to the nature of his songs, and his personality and the trauma of his past 18 months, humour and laughter were not expected, but they worked and it was a delight.
He loved the crowd, I had seen this before in concerts I’d seen on DVD and television. He kinda steps into them holding hands and singing directly to them, very sensual, and sexual yet respectful. I think I would pass out if I was in that position, lol! It seems to fuel his fire and add to the spectacle of the performance. It was mesmerising to watch.
About halfway through the concert, the intensity pulled back a little and then he sat down at the piano.
The Ship song.
I don’t even know what to write about hearing this classic song live for the first time. I was beside myself and weeping. It’s just one of those songs, and it was sublime to hear.
And I had no time to shake myself out of that awe-inspired astonishment, as he went straight into Into My Arms, which just kills me. The lyrics are beyond perfection. Imagine having someone write even one line from that song about you, let alone the whole thing. Suffice to say, I was a mess when that 1-2 punch ended, and could have left right there, happy and satisfied...and sobbing.
But he continued, so I stayed...not that it was difficult!
A few songs later the clang of the cowbell sounded and they rocked a superb version of Red Right Hand. The crowd exploded.
The energy of the band has to be mentioned, the tightness of their musicality, the intensity of their sound, and the severity of their support of their leader. It lifted Nick to higher heights, and he in turn conducted their electric ferocity to levels unsurpassed. It truly was something to witness.
And then the energy went higher with the most remarkable rendering of The Mercy Seat. Never once did anyone falter or make a miss-step, they are consummate performers.
The set closed with Distant Sky and Skelton Tree and they exited. Distant sky is a duet from the new album, with a Soprano, Else Torp, and she was shown singing her part via a screen behind the stage. It was breathtaking.
The crowd went bonkers, I never get that, unless the main lights go up there will always be an encore. Give the band a chance to catch their breath.
Hardly any time went by and they came back on and did a great encore of: Mermaids/The Weeping Song/Stagger Lee/Pushing the Sky Away.
it was superb, and everyone knew it, you could feel it in the dark, this conspiracy of love and appreciation.
The Weeping Song was unscheduled, someone asked for it. Cave asked the band if they knew it, they all nodded, and he said this is going to be a disaster, but it was not.
Looking at other set lists, I noticed they often played Breathless there, this made me a little sad when I realised this, it’s one of my all time favourite songs, and one I really didn’t think they would play. But never mind, it was all just wonderful. My Nick Cave cherry had been burst but it was more than that, it was spiritual and for an agnostic like me, the closest I will get to church and praying at an altar than I’ll ever get...the altar being Sir Nick and his supreme band.
The lights went up and the audience fell out, with this walking on air feeling, songs going round in their head, and I was no different as I glided back to my car.