Grinderman, Hammersmith Apollo, London

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The Independent Culture

There was some debate over Nick Cave's shadow at this outing of the much-discussed "supergroup" comprising Cave and long-time collaborators Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos. The spotlight banged into Cave's mangled frame and cast a huge silhouette across one wall of the venue. It seems interesting that, because of the sometimes limited views of the stage, this shadow is all some audience members saw of the singer. It wasn't so much an image, as a negative impression of the real performer.

And that's "negative", as in opposite, not a moral judgement, and that's pretty appropriate. For while many have found Grinderman's lyrics offensive (the epic "Go Tell the Women" talks of "consensual rape in the morning"), it's a question of whether you shackle creativity – and that's something you either buy into or you don't. For those who don't, Grinderman has been a release from Cave's brooding soundtrack since their debut album in 2007. And Grinderman is not just cathartic in terms of facial hair (Ellis and Cave look like Pogonology Appreciation Society members). It's also an excuse for the Bad Seeds members to "rock-out": garage-inspired, feedback-infused bluesy guitars rule here, instead of piano-flecked ballads. The audience tonight are of an older, more appreciative calibre, bringing head-banging back into fashion.

The band begin with "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man" ("And he sucked her and sucked her dry/ And he bit at me and said goodbye") then work through much of their new material: filthy hymnal "Heathen Child", the epic "Palaces of Montezuma", "Evil" and "No Pussy Blues" ("I thought I'd have another go, I called her my little ho", not one for the feminists in the audience) before departing on "Bellringer Blues". What being a Grinderman actually means is open for debate. A lot of it seems to be middle-aged horniness, presumably an underrepresented milieu, but a refreshing change.