Excellent Nick Cave live review from the ever-excellent Quietus…
Nick Cave gets behind the piano for some slower songs from the Bad Seeds back catalogue at the Brighton Dome, but even that can’t stop Luke Turner from marvelling at a band on top of their game.
It’s never entirely clear which Nick Cave is going to turn up to a Bad Seeds gig. It’s also never clear entirely exactly who Nick Cave is, so many are the characters and caricatures that he has created and which have attached themselves to his scrawny frame over the years. Is he the naked horndog depicted in scratchy print on the tea towel available on the merchandise stand at the Brighton Dome, the fizzing spunk of Viagra overdose garage project Grinderman inseminating the new Bad Seeds material? Is he the man of letters, beloved of broadsheet and (increasingly) academic papers? Lust object – remember that Glastonbury footage, where Cave reached to a girl with sex on her face and sang ‘Stagger Lee’ at her? (Normally one only sees attempts at lust in cinema – very few men get to see a look like that in all their lives). Is he, as his detractors have him, a pseud and a fraud, conjuring sixth form clichéd American gothic over a rough rehashing of the canon? Is he a serious songwriter, gliding into middle age? “How old is he?” a bespectacled bloke next to me asks his mate. “In his fifties, early 50s”, the reply.
Nick Cave is stood on the front of the stage, in an oil-shiny suit, grey Vs under his eyes, that mane of hair so impossibly and unlikely a black that one suspects that it’s capable of absorbing light. He’s stood on the front of the stage singing ‘Jubilee Street’, his voice agonised and querulous in that uncanny way that puts the burlesque, the anti-macho into fronting this most preposterously ferocious of bands.
“I’m vibrating… look at me now” – the man who a few hours earlier might have been heading out in jeans to by a pint of milk in this, his home town – “I’m transforming…” he wails, and the Bad Seeds hammer the song harder, way harder, than on record. Ellis flings his guitar down, it falls over, he picks up the fiddle and fiddles the crap out of it. Cave sits at the piano, leaps up, hand on hip, thrusts at the balcony, sits back down at the piano screaming “I’m transforming! I’m vibrating!” and that’s dispensed with, the finest Bad Seeds song on the finest Bad Seeds album in years (possibly their finest ever) gutted and ripped and lying by the side of the road. It’s magnificent stuff.