Photographs by Sean Chin.
Not many musicians can have the gall to pull off playing two encore shows, and those who do usually cannot justify doing so; Why not just have one encore? If there is a rare instance where a second encore has not only been warranted but has made a whole audience laugh at the fact that it happened, it’s with Nick Cave and his band The Bad Seeds. No one thought that clapping uncontrollably after the first encore would have worked, but with someone as smooth as Nick Cave and a backing band as badass as the Bad Seeds, it almost seems obvious after the fact. They aren’t pushovers, either. They welcomed audience input only when necessary. “What do you want?” Nick Cave asked a shouting audience member at one point. This guest was requesting a song, as was the entire auditorium. When given this opportunity to repeat himself, everyone shouted their suggestions as well. Humorously, the sneaky Nick Cave smirked and said “I can’t hear you”. The show continued, and Nick Cave didn’t have to outright deny a fan in front of many. That is until another fan at the very front asked for a specific song. Nick Cave smiled but politely denied the song request, blaming the amount of chords in the song and stating that the song was suitable for when Cave was “younger”.
Cave was very connective with his audience. Most of the show was spent with Cave walking on top of seats amongst the crowd: Many hands were brushing him like he was Jesus Christ himself. He had the swagger of Mick Jagger and the demonic possession of Iggy Pop, but he kept his classy shirt on and thus became a more elegant rendition of the two. Everyone in the Bad Seeds had a similar vibe going on, as everyone was both suave and also very rock and roll. Warren Ellis wore a fancy suit but donned his signature beard and lengthy hair (as well as having his violin bow shoved into his suit’s collar as it made him look like a fallen angel with one clipped wing). The music played the same way, with bar music being played fairly loudly and with the demons of the pub singer taking over his sanity. While that is an obvious statement for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fans, seeing this kind of grit live is stunning and is highly captivating. A great metaphor for how the show was is seeing Ellis throwing his violin bow time after time again into the rafters: Tradition met chaos.
There was a sit down period where Nick Cave went to his piano and was stationary. The ballads started to come out. It was a great moment to catch ones breath and it was a testament to the versatility the band carries. It’s a beautiful reminder at how stunningly well written Caves lyrics are when his ballads and his onslaughts carry the same punches. He performed the classic Into My Arms where he admits that he didn’t believe in God. Earlier in the evening he looked all of us in the eyes and said that God was real to him. Of course, the narrator for every song and/or album is different, but with a compilation of many of their great songs is a schizophrenic spiral down into the depths of a literary genius’s nightmares. With one single, sudden strobe light effect the entire night to scare the daylights out of us all, it’s clear that The Bad Seeds are very willing to take us into the darkest corridors of insanity. With Nick Cave’s charming grace, we’re guided into hell with wide smiles. After a two hour show and two encores we begged for (we wanted to experience our fears all over again), Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were a spellbinding band live and one that makes you want to touch the fire just one more time.