Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
As a reviewer, I generally adhere to two rules when writing about concerts:
1) View the show objectively, keeping reportage of personal experiences experienced by me alone to a minimum.
2) Do not, under any circumstances, deal in superlatives.
Tonight, I'm throwing the proverbial rulebook out of the window. When the Black Crow King himself stops the show momentarily to dedicate Red Right Hand to your Fucked Left Hand and caresses your injured limb like a faith healer, calling you a 'poor little thing', it's impossible to not believe he's performing just for you. Mr. Cave's an accommodating host, exchanging banter with any audience member daring enough to tempt his wit.
Marrying open-armed intimacy with such a staggeringly large spectacle seemed effortless for the Bad Seeds, too - the Apollo's Art Deco grandeur was the perfect environment for their theatrical crescendos and dramatic diminuendos. Not that they'd be out of place in a brutalist garage like Wembley Arena - it's just incredibly rare that a band and venue could be so aesthetically suited to each other that one could be forgiven for assuming that they redecorated just for this event.
Armed with an impressive new addition to his legendary canon, Push The Sky Away, this was never going to be a career-spanning 'greatest hits' set (not a single track was played from Your Funeral, My Trial, Nocturama or Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!), but rather a showcase for the Bad Seeds' finest album in a decade, bolstered by tracks that compliment and contrast its airy, muted ambiance. Recent single Jubilee Street set the high water mark early on, its euphoric climax exploding beyond its album arrangement as Nick flailed and darted, sideman Warren Ellis excitably scrambling between instruments.
After the cerebral one-two punch of From Her To Eternity and Tupelo, the audience were granted four songs' respite in the form of a showcase of the band's softer material, drawing heavily on The Boatman's Call and No More Shall We Part's softer, piano-heavy hues. Warren in particular seemed exhausted after 7 songs' worth of violin and tenor guitar abuse - he sat in a chair onstage, his pensive silence every bit as intense as his feral string abuse. After this breather, of course, it was back to business as usual; the druggy haze of Higgs Boson Blues, The Mercy Seat's apocalypse-blues maelstrom and the lairy, hairy, sweary Stagger Lee were played with more animalistic vigour and chutzpah than bands they could have fathered. In fact, Deana sounded more vital now than it did on Tender Prey and Live Seeds.
The show's conclusion with a new song, Give Us A Kiss perfectly nailed down the point that, whilst (to quote Nick himself in encore opener We Real Cool) the past is the past and it's here to stay, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are still too potent, too inspired and too relevant to cash in on the nostalgia circuit.
I know superlatives are really poor form for a reviewer, but this truly is the greatest show I have ever seen. Tonight, God IS in the house.
We No Who U R
-Aidy James Stevens