Pop: The boatman's call to party
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Irving Plaza New York City
Tuesday 29 September 1998
The circuitous route by which Americans have come to his Southern Gothickry and Delta Blues (Melbourne-Berlin-London-New York) has given the Bad Seeds two strains of fans. The bulk are cleanish, trendyish white kids in their twenties. But there was a sub-group, flitting impatiently between them; vinyl and crepe covered Goths. Too old and moody for Marilyn Manson, they haven't yet been Gapped and Starbucked and Virgin Megastored out of New York. There remain some basements in the East Village where they work on their pallor by day before releasing themselves on special nights like this.
Cave came on in his customary three-piece suit and cloud of cigarette smoke and slipped in to "Far From Me", one of the sparsest, slowest tracks on The Boatman's Call. His melodramatic baritone, so beautifully buffed- up in the studio on that album, now sounded rougher and more vulnerable. Launching into the blustery "Do You Love Me" got the crowd on his side, and he was soon stripped down to his sweat-drenched white shirt, wagging a presidential finger at the audience.
The cautionary tale, "Red Right Hand", kept everyone moving, and while Mick Harvey's pained solo rose above Blixa Bargeld's guttural bass, Cave strutted about, always on his toes, springing back and forth like a fighter.
Strangely enough, he carried this teeth-grinding aggression through the ballads as well. The mood songs, "Lime Tree Arbor" and "Brompton Oratory", were slightly rushed as he hovered, lurched and bopped, making him look like Martin Amis impersonating Tricky.
It was clear though, that Nick Cave has more classics than he can fit into a Greatest Hits roadshow. Switching back to bone-crunching blues such as "The Mercy Seat" and "From Her To Eternity", he had the audience singing the chorus. All night, birthday gifts were passed forward, including a large bouquet of pink lilies, which he shared with Blixa Bargeld as the portly German filled in for Kylie Minogue on the murder ballad "Where The Wild Rose Grows". Always a prickly customer live, the crowd only once tested Cave's cool by singing "Happy Birthday" just as he was about to launch into "Rose". Being 41 years of age and all, he forgave them.
Touring with six (rather good) Seeds is an extravagance that Nick Cave the artist is prepared to finance, and it paid off during the climax of "Stagger Lee", as the percussionist (he in charge of the Faulknerian tubular bells) battered the cymbals with maracas while Bargeld swamped his mike with primal screams.
The crowd stayed well past the house lights to drag the band back for a second encore, an unfamiliar party-pooper about a woman wearing a plain gold ring. However, the VIP guests upstairs (which included the anti-Goth herself, model Christy Turlington) mobbed the dressing room for the real birthday party.
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 2 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 3 A-level results 2015: UK exam board OCR admits it 'estimates' hundreds of pupils' grades after papers 'go missing'
- 4 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks busy Dublin road
- 5 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
Artist Jamie McCartney: How The Great Wall of Vagina is a stand against 'body fascism'
Cilla Black: Her 12 best songs, from 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' to 'You're My World'
Michael B Jordan and Kate Mara handle excruciatingly awkward and offensive interview questions like pros
Game of Thrones season 6: 'A Song of Ice and Fire should be finished by 1998,' said George R. R. Martin, 'but don't hold your breath'
Sherlock season 4: Benedict Cumberbatch will be 'a lot less brattish' in Victorian special
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality