A Night With Some Bad Seeds
I'd like to tell you a tale of my love affair with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The story I'd like to tell you begins sometime in the late 80's when, upon reaching the age in which I first began to develop a real interest in popular music, someone played for me the album "Tender Prey" and I was a devoted Bad Seed from that point to this.
But that just wouldn't be true. This fact somehow makes me less legit among "hardcore" Nick Cave fans, but as always, I don't care.
Up until I went to college, I was very much into whatever music was popular enough to be heard on the radio and readily available for sale, but fringe enough to be "cool". From about 1987-1991 I was very much a hair rock kinda guy, with doses of metal. The first concert I ever attended was Poison with Warrant opening. The posters on my wall were for bands like Skid Row, Guns n' Roses, Cinderella, and Britny Fox. As time progressed it was less hair and more metal, but back then even the metal bands were mostly just hair bands with bad attitudes.
In the 90's my tastes (or more appropriately my friends' tastes) shifted to the emerging Alternative and Grunge scene. My tape collection started to lose hair and bought a pair of combat boots. My friends and I would rock out to Violent Femmes, Jane's Addition, Nirvana, and sometimes we would get a little crazy and put on this strange CD from a group none of us had heard of called Nine Inch Nails.
All the while, Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds had been recording and releasing music completely off my radar. My appreciation for this band didn't actually begin until about 1998 when my brother Jack gave me "The Boatman's Call" on CD. I was in college at the time and all mixed up over some skirt, so the mood and emotions expressed on this CD grabbed me and spoke to me clearly at the time.
For the following crybaby months, I listened to Boatman several times, but never ventured into other Nick Cave material until my friend Brad one day said "Hey, Metallica covered a song by that spooky singer you're so into". On one of our trips from Greeley to Denver for some gaming he played this album for me and I was exposed to the Metallica cover of "Loverman". I was unimpressed. The song itself seemed to have merit, but the Metallica cover of it did not appeal to me at all. When we returned to Greeley, I stopped at a local used record store (I was horribly broke, being in college) and picked up the only two Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums they had: Let Love In, and Murder Ballads.
These albums not only grabbed me and spoke to me, but actually shook me and screamed in my face. I was suddenly immersed in a world in which artistic expression in song and verse were paramont and contained imagery as dark and compelling as anything I've heard since. It was music for music's sake, and it didn't seem to have a single concern for what we thought of it. It was moody, it was dirty, it was obscene, and it was beautiful. As soon as I heard O'Malley's Bar, I was hooked. I've been a fan ever since.
In the 10 years since I have bought and downloaded everything Nick Cave I can find. His music has been an inspiration, a security blanket, an antagonist, a comforting friend, and an outlet for several varieties of angst and anger. Unfortunately, I have never been able to catch them for a live performance. The closest I previously came was back in 2001 when I had tickets to see them in Denver, but was waylaid by the woman I was involved with at the time. I've been kicking myself for making the wrong choice that night for a long time now.
Last night I was finally able to experience a live show, and it was worth every second of time spent waiting. Nick Cave is a truly dynamic performer, showing a love for live performing that acted like pure adrenaline to the watching crowd. The Bad Seeds played an exceptionally satisfying mix of music from their latest release and beloved classics. Of the mental inventory I made of songs I would like to hear at the show, there were only two that were not performed.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds present themselves as consummate musicians. The stage was set with two drum kits, three keyboards, and an array of other instruments. The musicians seemed to channel pure love and intensity into every song in the set, and those of us in the crowd soaked up every passing second of it with devoted appreciation.
The opening tune, "Night of the Lotus Eaters" was the perfect morsel to whet the appetites of us eager fans. As Nick Cave cautioned us with the lyrics "get ready to shield yourself" those of us in the audience knew we were in for a hell of a ride. From then on we were treated to a veritable barrage of amazing music, of which the most prominent in my memory is definitely "We Call Upon the Author" which had an extraordinary mix of improvised lyrics, animated performance, and Warren Ellis going absolutely insane on a variety of instruments.
I felt a passing pity for the fans around me who were trying to sing along with their favorite tunes because their live versions were anything but simple regurgitation of their recorded counterparts. Their classic songs were treated to an overhaul to come inline with how the band has evolved. The small glitches in the show - the forgotten lyrics and malfunctioning equipment (treated to an entertaining Nick Cave kick) - only added an appropriate edge and gritty realism to the performance. The parting shot of "The Lyre of Orpheus" wrapped up the performance in perfect form, and I spent the entire hour-long drive home at 2am in complete satisfaction, nestled safely in recollections of what I'm sure will be a favorite memory for years to come.
Post-show, I am left with a deeper appreciation for the songs played in the set, a desire to reacquaint myself with my entire library of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and a deep and solemn wish that this impressive act would tour the States more often.
On a different note, I spent the majority of the show standing next to a pair of ladies struggling to get good photos of the performance, hindered by the fact that the majority of the people around them seemed to be taller than they were. Being rather tall and courteous in fits and starts, I offered my height in assistance of their cause. At the end of the show, they were kind enough to take my email address and agreed to send me some photos. I received the emails this morning, and it is from there that the photos in this post originate. So thanks, Amy!