Feb 28, 2013

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Sydney Opera House



Nick Cave is still relevant. Relevant, I say. Well, he's SO much more than that. But after all these years he still matters. Whilst many compatriots from the 80s and 90s have ceased to matter and are touring as part of their pension plans, Nick Cave and his Seeds of Badness are pumping out ferocious and truthful music. I guess maybe a reason is because the band and Nick in particular have stood outside all musical trends. For close on 3 decades they have remained trendless, maybe even timeless. Their music is dark and moody, but also pulsing and thumping. It's malevolent and sometimes downright nasty. But most of all it sounds like no one else. To be honest I was only ever an intermittent fan, dipping my toe into the Cave but never diving in fully. Until recently. Now I am a full blown acolyte. The man is a marvel. A beast of epic proportions.

Wedneday night at the Sydney Opera House was the middle performance of 3 quickly sold out shows. We had great seats to witness a spectacular and unforgettable performance. The band only recently released album number 15. "Push The Sky Away" is a stately, brooding beast. Full of quiet moments that are poignant and beautiful. This show would have two distinct halves. The first half was the the entire new album in track order. The second half was to be a quickfire romp through a cross section of their venerable catalogue. Each proved totally satisfying for differing reasons. "Push The Sky Away" starts slowly and builds, with some songs burning with quiet fury, others exploding in all directions. The band was accompanied by string players from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and a small choir of school childern from Annandale. Even though they didn't participate on each song they were a nice touch. I would say though that they were at times drowned out by the band, limiting their effectivness. Two songs stood out in particular. "Jubilee Street" was an epic build, climbing and reaching into the sky with enormous power. "Higgs Boson Blues" was the other standout, a slow burning beauty. Then we charged head long into the finale with "From Her To Eternity" kicking things off. It was an explosive, dynamic monster displaying all the talents and greatness of St Nick. He is truly magnetic on stage, all eyes follow him as he prowls the stage. He lives each lyric, convulses each beat. A performer like few ever. Also I will never forget the mercurial Warren Ellis standing tall in front of the Orchestra summoning them to greater heights. The rest of the set was just as enjoyable. "Red Right Hand" dripped with menace, whilst "O Children" probably made best use of the choir on the night. The choir ('kiddies' as Nick called them) would leave after the classic "The Ship Song". Funnily enough, even though I love this song, it wasn't my favourite of the night. Perhaps because Nick sung it slightly mid tempo. I did absolutely love "Love Letter", with Nick taking the lead on piano and the strings coming to the fore for this song. The closing two songs were brutal to say the least. But brutal in a good way. "The Mercy Seat" pounded us into submission and left us wanting more. We stood and cheered and thankfully the band returned. We stayed standing as Nick 'serenaded' us with the dark as dark gets "Stagger Lee"."Yeah, I'm Stagger Lee, and you better get down on your knees and suck my dick because if you don't, you're gonna be dead". Oh Nick, welcome back!

Set List
We No Who U R
Wide Lovely Eyes
Water's Edge
Jubilee Street
Mermaids
We Real Cool
Finishing Jubilee Street
Higgs Boson Blues
Push the Sky Away
From Her to Eternity
Red Right Hand
O Children
The Ship Song
Jack the Ripper
Deanna
Love Letter
The Mercy Seat

Stagger Lee

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