...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds bring fire, brimstone and rock 'n' roll to Denver

Friday night around 2am I was having a conversation out in a dark alley, next to broken-out windows and dumpsters, with a fellow who told me that Nick Cave saved his life.

Back in high school he listened to punk and often felt alienated from the other kids, from the metalhead contingent, the popular rock and the hair bands. Discovering music like Nick Cave's work with The Birthday Party, and then his early albums with the Bad Seeds in the mid-'80s, had opened up whole new worlds of literate music to him that intelligently and ferociously reached across all boundaries and grabbed hold of him.

As we loitered in the darkness waiting for Nick Cave to emerge from the bowels of the Ogden Theatre after a mindblowingly amazing show, he told me how much Cave had resonated with him over the years. Standing there with his girlfriend, he held a copy of the 1985 album The Firstborn Is Dead to his chest, and in twenty minutes he would be walking away with Nick's writing across the front, lyrics to "A Train Long-Suffering" written in silver ink still wet around his picture on the black cover. As I touched his shoulder to say bye, he was shaking like a leaf.

I am a latecomer to the cult of Cave, but after Friday night's sold-out and powerful show, count me as a convert. Apocalyptic and spiritual metaphors are the strongest that come up after you are baptized by fire into a Nick Cave show. As he dances, stomps, writhes and howls onstage, slim and strong in his suit, sweating through his clothes, you feel like you are seeing some sort of punk-rock preacher come to save us from our sins (and planting ideas about a few new ones while he's at it).

It's not a gimmick nor a schtick like some Reverends in the rock world, but just the force of his personality, his intense band (with two drummers!!) and the raging quality of his songs. To get some idea of what the entire night was like, watch my favorite video of the year:


Cave is one of the most intelligent songwriters I know of, not afraid to mix the sacred and the profane to illustrate new meanings with a punch, or to take on old stories like the closing "Stagger Lee" and make it his own with lyrics I nearly blush to repeat. The music was potent, the performance pure undiluted rock 'n' roll. Cave performed everything from the title track from his latest album with aplomb (second in the set), to the earliest songs like "Tupelo" as well as beloved favorites like "Red Right Hand" and "The Mercy Seat." They held the stage for more than two visceral hours with no signs of letting up until the bitter end.

Setlist: Night of the Lotus Eaters / Dig Lazarus Dig!!! / Tupelo / Today's Lesson / The Weeping Song / Red Right Hand / Love Letter / Hold on to Yourself / The Mercy Seat / Moonland / Midnight Man / Deanna / We Call Upon the Author / Hard On For Love / Papa Won't Leave you, Henry ==encore== Wanted Man / Lyre of Orpheus / Stagger Lee

Friday night was one of the best shows I have seen in many moons, as I told Cave after the show. He replied that it had been his favorite of the tour as well despite some sound problems that plagued the beginning, leading to a hapless broken keyboard getting kicked off its stand by the towering Cave and his solid boots. Like everything else about the night, he was unrelenting.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds play Chicago tomorrow night, then a quick lap into Canada, and back to NYC and DC before heading back to Europe.


[Laurie Scavo got the shots of the show this time around;
I only got some after

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At September 29, 2008 4:01 PM, Blogger Chase Squires said...

Hey H,

Nothing to do with the post, although the Friday show sounds cool, I caught George Inai's mellow act, Nick Cave rocks ...

Anyway, heads up on a show you might have a blast at, if you haven't seen them, Oct. 18, the Kinetix with Vonnegut and Rob Drabkin ... Kinetix are really an underrated band that does an amazing show, full on energy ... it's at the Marquis, just thought I'd mention it.

At September 30, 2008 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard a lot of good things about Nick Cave but his CD's never really caught my ear. After reading this post, I definitely get a better impression as to why people like him. He's kind of like Morrissey I guess in his cult status. Would be down to see him live. Good post. Enjoyed it.

At September 30, 2008 11:10 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hey there Heather.

This has nothing to do with Nick Cave, but since you obviously have a good taste in music I thought you'd appreciate this three part documentary on the current Seattle music scene:


Just in case you haven't seen it already. Very much recommended.

At September 30, 2008 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucky, lucky you.

At November 20, 2008 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds = amazing.

If you like them, listen to the rest of the Anti- artists on their sampler. It's great.

You can download it OR stream it: http://www.antilabelblog.com/


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