How does Nick Cave do it? How does he manage, in a career approaching its fourth decade, to turn in consistently riveting performances?
The key is that he still believes. The conviction, the passion, the trust in his own artistic endeavours all remain strong, fortified by a body of work that is increasingly impressive as the years roll by.
Cave hollers at the front rows with the zeal of a man possessed
It’s why at tonight’s show – billed as a homecoming for Brighton’s favourite adopted son – Cave hollers at the front rows with the zeal of a man possessed, as keen as ever to broadcast his funky, foreboding tales.
That back catalogue is extensive, affording Nick and co the luxury of selecting a few rare gems amongst the usual crowd-pleasers. But it’s the most recent album that anchors the set, the evening beginning with the record’s centerpiece, Jubilee Street. Cave and sidekick/cult hero Warren Ellis throw themselves into the task from the off, dispatching across the stage microphones, violin bows and anything else that gets in their way.
Of course, our man’s longevity is intrinsically linked to the swaggering Bad Seeds, a band capable of switching effortlessly from the eerie electro dynamics of We Real Cool to the balls-out menace of The Mercy Seat (a song that every right-thinking sinner must see live at least once.)
Clad in particularly shiny head-to-toe black, the 56-year-old Cave spends much of the evening prowling the front of the stage, leaning forwards to receive ballast and hem-touching from the faithful below. “Listen to the beating of their blood,” he sings on Tupelo, placing one swooning girl’s hand upon his heart.
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Such is the confidence of those on stage, they follow the groovy schlock’n’roll of Stagger Lee with the last album’s haunting yet curiously rallying title track, Push The Sky Away, which closes the show.
Even bolder, the final encore is a brand new song called Give Us A Kiss, a spectral, delicate number that nevertheless percolates with seaside sleaze. It’s highly unusual, even for the Bad Seeds, gives a hint of where this fantastic band are going next – and it brings the house down.
There’s no stopping him, and praise be for that.