“It’s a bit weird standing up here in this little theatre…” Usually the setting of the Phantom of the Opera, the stage is indeed small, but it doesn’t deter Nick Cave for a moment. For the umpteenth time he swishes the mic lead out of his way, and as Deanna starts up – a song 25 years old but sounding as vital as ever – he leaps over the monitors to roar at the grinning faces in the first few rows.
The lucky punters who have escaped the driving sleet and snow are at the opening night of a Bad Seeds international mini-tour, which begins with a track-by track airing of their forthcoming new album.
The band eases its way into the fresh material, shaking off the studio to find their live groove
Starting with the plaintive single, We No Who You Are, the band eases its way into the fresh material, shaking off the studio to find their live groove. By the time they get to Jubilee Street – the centrepiece of the record – the Bad Seeds are moving with lithe, blistering power, building to a crescendo that receives rapturous applause. Cue sly, cheeky grins between Cave and cohort-cum-talisman, Warren Ellis.
The ensemble tonight includes a string quintet, two drummers behind pink kits (including old band member Barry Adamson, covering sick leave), and a small children’s choir, angelic voices that blend perfectly with the smouldering blues filling the refined air of the 300-year-old theatre. Stood at the back, the kids receive warm attention and gentle chiding from Cave, who discourages them from texting during the show.
The new material swings around dark, edgy loops, a progression for the band that is effortlessly incorporated into their signature sound. But as ever, there are also songs of grace and beauty, Wide Lovely Eyes yet another swallow-hard moment in the Bad Seeds oeuvre.