Nick Cave at All Points East - Review
What sort of idiot wears new shoes to a gig? I stupidly asked myself, as if the answer wasn’t staring me in the face: a punkish, edgy, and aged rock-star: Nick Cave. ‘Aged’ sounds like a dig; it isn’t. Aged is poetry. Aged is “I don’t give a damn” and “I’ve seen everything, done everything” wrapped into one snarling, moaning, hounding sound.
Cave was funny. Evidently such a serious band, who pride themselves on lyricism, who can employ virtually any instrument into servitude, are not afraid of being un-serious sometimes. Refreshingly, Cave genuinely came across as an artist who is not bored of his own music. As such, the set was very generous. Every note of the 14 song strong setlist was hit with a battering ram, and it was a treat, accented with generous flourishes from the 80s archives. From Her to Eternity was played extensively, and dragged to that new height of angst- Skeleton Tree.
Drag is a good word for Cave, ‘drag’ sounds like it might be a dig; it still isn’t. What I’m saying is, Nick Cave was breaking a sweat, his hair was slicked back and he slithered across the stage with jittering grace. He was involved with his audience, intimately. ‘Do You Love Me?’ was addressed personally, to every one of us, only three songs in. The atmosphere only got hotter after this.
We were a sold-out crowd, with an average age of around 30, maybe older. But no one in Victoria Park felt like a has-been, we were bestowed with the band’s zeitgeist. When invited to join ‘Into My Arms’, we obliged. Similarly, when the front rows reached for Cave, he reached back. It was all very skin on skin, all very natal: it was difficult to feel lonely. If this appeals to you, follow the band around Europe- they’re on tour.
Maybe it was in an attempt to upstage punk-poet Patti Smith, that Cave was naughty, broke rules, crowd surfed and ushered some 50 people onto the stage with him. However, this did not feel like a power move on Cave’s part, this seemed like a move of cooperation, not competition.
Still, in the interest of comparing Cave and Smith, Cave hands down lost in one aspect: he did not name each member of his band. I don’t know, that just seems like poor etiquette, especially considering The Bad Seeds are astonishingly talented live musicians. Maybe Cave was too excited to perform with his good friend Kylie/‘Eliza Rose’ and forgot to do the decent thing, but let’s just call a foible a foible. It’s not like the set wasn’t bereft of them. The bass should have been louder, there were some problems with a guitar and ultimately, the 50 people on stage sort of awkwardly stood there, staring disbelievingly at the back of Cave’s oiled head. He’s so dreamy is probably what they thought, as we all finished on a highlight of ‘Push the Sky Away’.
“The rock star is dying. And it's a small tragedy. Rock stars have blogs now.” These are Cave’s words from an Esquire interview in 2007. Actively volting away from death, therefore, must be Cave’s current prerogative, hence this Dionysian jig of a performance. When you drag an oiled rock up a hill you get Sisyphus quickened. The set was over in an hour and a half, but it felt like it had just begun, but when it is Cave, things must be this bitter sweet.