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Positive Feedback ISSUE 74
july/august 2014


Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Live
by Annie Merkley


Nick Cave

Nick Cave. The man. The legend. To those who know him, he needs little introduction. He has been steadily churning out his own brand of beautifully macabre music since the '70s—from The Boys Next Door's beginnings in Australia, to the dark art punk outfit The Birthday Party that took up residence in Berlin, to the revolving international line up of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Cave is storyteller in every form: a songwriter, novelist, screenwriter and composer.

Those that have seen a recent performance of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds would undoubtedly agree that he is at the pinnacle of his career. He appears on stage as an apparition, a deranged carny conductor, a preacher with a bellowing sultry voice that beckons the heartstrings to the point of rapture. He thrashes about in his scarecrow frame and pimp gitty up with the showmanship of a southern gothic necromancer. He is romantic, violent, crass, and disturbingly alluring. He is a spell binding fallen angel that enchants as he conjures tales of love, death, life, God and destruction. The live performances transcend the impeccably recorded work and take on a powerful ephemeral entity entirely their own. Cave prances and undulates, teases and taunts the crowd to the crux of climax, while the Bad Seeds deliver intense reverberations that emit peak after pummeling peak leaving the house shaken to its core.

I had first seen Cave with the Bad Seeds back in 2001 at the Tabernacle, in Atlanta, GA. I had tears in my eyes, full Beatlemania style and screamed with girlish jubilation as the band broke into "Do You Love Me" as they mounted the stage. I was ecstatic to be in the same room with the force of nature that is Nick Cave. Though he performed like a mighty storm with the original Bad Seeds line up including the talents of Blixa Bargeld and Mick Harvey, he stayed very much on stage, non-interactive with the audience. However wonderful he was over a decade ago the man has upped his game tenfold.

Nick Cave

Now, Cave thrives off the energy of the congregation like a demented evangelist, thrusting himself into hordes of hungry hands begging for exaltation.

Multi-instrumentalist and longtime musical accomplice of Cave, Warren Ellis, riffled through violin bows with the speed of an archer. With his long beard and frenzied eyes he resembled a lunatic version of a Pied Piper leading the brigade with merriment and unbridled fervor. He launched his demolished bows at stage lights with mirth and a smirk.

In orchestra row 15 my friend and I watched and consumed with wonder, the gorgeous Shrine Auditorium was the perfect setting for the two hour set that these dedicated musicians delivered with such revelry. Cave and Ellis poured every ounce of themselves into their theatrics, sweat, spit, and all. At moments it was like a profoundly atmospheric spoken word performance—followed by crescendos of clambering junctures that reminded me I've always believed that Nick Cave and Tom Waits were definitely pirates on the same ship in their past lives. It was truly one of the best live shows I have ever seen.

Nick Cave

Go. See this man and his ferociously talented band. It is a show that will haunt you for years to come, and leave you hurting for more!

The set spanned 30 years of hits featured off of their long list of albums: From Her to Eternity, '84, The First Born is Dead, '85, Tender Prey, '88, The Good Son, '90, Henry's Dream, '92, Let Love In, '94, Murder Ballads, '96, The Boatman's Call, '97, No More Shall We Part, '01, Abattoir Blues, '04, to a handful of songs off of their newest release, Push the Sky Away, '13.

Nick Cave

Here's a link to the full set from July 11th