Last night, at the newly reopened Warfield, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds brought their black magic post punk rock to a willing and ready audience.
It was my first time to see Nick Cave, and I was expecting an enigmatic performance. It was that and so much more. Cave crooned and the audience swooned, and then he would become a man possessed, throwing the mic, wildly jump kicking around like an oversugared kid. During the slower parts Cave would stand there, moving up and down like he was riding an invisible horse, staring at the crowd like he was trying to figure them out.
Cave was all about the crowd. Wearing his mustache, slicked back hair and open shirt in the best way possible, he went as close to the audience as he could with The Warfield’s monstrous barrier. He was much more lithe than I expected, exuding some sort of energy between Iggy Pop and Gomez Addams.
I found much of the band to be very nondescript, except for the multinstrumentalist Warren Ellis. What a wild man, and I mean that in a living in a cave, possibly in Afghanistan, virtuoso kind of way. He put that fiddler from Dave Matthews to shame. And that Fender Mandocaster is a very interesting little baby guitar.
OK, to the music! We were like children in kindergarten during storytime, being told these violent, depressing narratives that exude the worldliness of a band that has Australian, German, Brazilian, and English roots. It feels dangerous and at times, otherworldly, which is probably why their work has shown up on soundtracks for The X-Files and Hellboy.
Highlights were ‘Night of the Lotus Eaters’, ‘Red Right Hand’, ‘God is in the House’, and ‘Stagger Lee’. ‘God is in the House’ was an audience request that he was a bit rusty at performing, which made it that much more charming. I wish I could remember the funny ways he introduced each song- for instance, he dedicated one to a guy (well, I hope it was a guy) in the front who had the same “facial disfigurement” as him (a ‘stache).
After 2 plus hours, they left the stage. And he’ll be back tonight to do it all again.
Setlist (from Blah Blah Blog, which also has good pics)
1. Night of the Lotus Eaters
2. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
4. Today’s Lesson
5. Red Right Hand
6. Let Love In
7. Midnight Man
8. Mercy Seat
11. The Ship Song
12. We Call Upon the Author
13. Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry
14. More News from Nowhere
15. The Lyre of Orpheus
16. Into My Arms
17. Get Ready for Love
18. Hard-on for Love
19. God Is In the House (audience request)
20. Stagger Lee
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds performance: 9.25/10
venue (The Warfield): 8.5/10
value ($33.50/ticket): 8.75/10