Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds- Edinburgh Usher Hall 01/11/13
The first of November and the first sold out gig of the month for my gig diary ( more to come ). The first time I experienced Nick Cave was with his alter ego Grinderman and a handful of seeds who split the audience with their bombastic blues. Recently I caught his stripped back The Death of Bunny Monro book reading tour, again with a few faithful members backing him. Tonight it's a different story, I’m here to witness the full band Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.
But first to warm our cold souls is a one women and her harmonium Shilpa Ray. A huge favourite of Cave's having already toured with Grinderman and him releasing her E.P It's all self Fellatio on his Bad seed ltd label, also having released material under her other guise Shilpa Ray and The happy Hookers http://www.shilparay.net/ A stunning strong voice and to me I can hear a mixture of Lana Del Ray and Janis Joplin, bluesy and soulful. She remains quiet throughout her set letting the lyrics speak, only commenting “ You guys really have nice graveyards” Okay then.
The songs flow almost seamlessly until she stops and walks off, leaving us all a bit bemused but ready for who we are all here for.
It's a Friday night in Edinburgh, people have been paid and are ready to party with some still recovering from last night's All Hallows Eve shenanigans. All the ghosts and Ghouls have gone back to hell, but one Dark Lord still walks the earth and he has a few songs to sing to us.
Straight in to the sublime opener from their stunning new album We no who you are. The 7-piece including the return of Barry Adamson ( in shades ). Jubilee Street comes next but Cave gives the nod and all hell breaks loose. The band reach peak time highs, the energy coming from the stage could heat a small village in the country. Cave is all over the stage, rushing towards his right hand man Warren Ellis and almost bouncing off him, only slightly taking a breather to play a few piano notes. The sold out venue is going wild. What an opening first few tracks. This reviewer could easily have left a happy man at this point but is in for the long haul and what a epic set weighing in at just over 2 hrs and 21 tracks.
Midnight Man is the only tune lifted from their last album Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! “Everyone is coming round to my place” Cave sings, looking round it looks like they have. Some casualties already and some characters, but to be expected.
It would only be wrong to have not played the excellent and live favourite Red Right Hand he doesn't disappoint. The crowd sing along.
From here to Eternity Adamson joins Jim Sclavunos as a second drummer. Cave spends most of his time at the front of the crowd on monitors crouching in to his followers. A dark broody character he returns to the stage briefly going down on his knees, sometimes sipping a steamy substance from a cup, maybe a hot toddy ( in Scotland: whisky and hot water with spices ) or a witches brew.
The Wild man and multi instrumentalist Warren Ellis with his swept back hair and dwarfish beard is a captivating force, he crouches turning his back to the audience and catapults his violin bows in to the air. While flitting between flute, mandolin, tenor guitar and whatever he can get his hands on.
A brief moment for Cave to introduce a track off their first album “You know the one” a Anita Lane cover Stranger than Kindness. He gets heckled from some nut job on the balcony, he retorts “Fuck You”
He takes to the piano for a series of dark balladry God is in the House and the brilliant Into My Arms from The Boatman's Call album. The lovers hold each other tight and sing along.
We return to the new album for Higgs Boson Blues which is tight, warm and wholesome. The Mercy Seat and their version of the old American folk song Stagger Lee he's back leaning in to the audience, this is Cave's Communion, holding on to a adoring fan's hand preaching his tales of redemption and perversion. It's a spellbinding sight.
They finish with their new album title track Push the Sky Away It's absolutely mesmerizing with it's ambient electronic over tones. Like a collaboration with Brian Eno
They return with an encore of We real Cool then asks for requests from the audience. Papa won't leave you, Henry follow. The band thinks it all over but Cave wants to play more “here's a new one “ he says with Give us a kiss finishing the set.
It was something really special to experience a gig with this kind of response in Edinburgh which usually is some what subdued but Cave brings out the fire in the crowd and creates a almost tribal atmosphere in the grandiose Usher Hall venue.
The band are on top form especially Cave who still stands proud as one of the greatest front men and with album after album of quality tunes I would believe their here to stay to haunt for a long while yet.