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Concert Review by Nick Morgan

Brixton Academy, UK - Friday November 12th - by tera-deluxe guest writer Nick Morgan

It’s a balmy Friday night in Brixton, and outside the Academy the ticket touts are moving silently like wraiths through the early-doors crowd, each face a testimony to a thousand punches. But it’s not a beauty show, and for the third night in a row they are doing brisk business.


It’s the last sell-out night of Nick Cave’s brief sojourn in the Capital, and everyone there knows it will be some time before we see him again.
There’s nothing to say about Cave that hasn’t been written already. The ‘post-punk prince of Goth’ (I’m sure I read that somewhere), lauded by London’s chattering classes, whose lyrics stumble from sublime (and usually dark) poetic imagery to occasional painful contrivance. Lean, lank and mean he moves around the stage like Scott Walker’s ‘singer with a Spanish bum’ (from ‘Jackie’ on Scott 2), carefully lit so that his shadows dance on the balconied walls like a possessed Javanese wayang kulit puppet. His presence, like his voice, is commanding and intimidating. He spits and spews his lyrics (occasionally assisted by a song sheet) with venom – even at his tenderest (and most ironic) moments, such as ‘God is in the House’.

  Behind Cave the Bad Seeds exude a barely restrained menace. In the absence of Blixa Bargeld only violinist Warren Ellis offers any real movement, and even he Stuart Sutcliffes his way through most of the night with his back to the audience. They provide sensitive and sometimes deliberately discordant accompaniments to Cave’s more sensitive songs (‘Babe you turn me on’), and power and drive when the tempo is raised, with Jim Sclavunos and Thomas Wylder playing the drummer percussionists’ version of good-cop, bad cop, on songs such as ‘Supernaturally’, ‘The weeping song’ and ‘Get ready for love’.

But when they are unleashed, with Cave gesticulating wildly in their faces like conductor Valery Gergyev, they prove that they are, to paraphrase a recurring theme in Cave’s oeuvre, the meanest of all the mean motherfuckers of rock and roll. Parts of ‘Hiding all away’ and ‘Stagger Lee’ are delivered with such shock and awe that the audience are, well, …awed.
From ‘Abattoir blues’ to ‘There she goes’ Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds deliver sixty minutes of almost overpowering rock, returning to work through a selection of their bad catalogue before a final encore of ‘The Mercy Seat’, by which time – to be frank – they were a bit past it (as were the audience). But when you know you will still be revisiting a show in your mind months later then it has to be very special. This was. - Nick Morgan (top photo: Nick)

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