Into Music Reviews: Nick Cave – Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Act: Conversations with Nick Cave
Venue: Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Date: 22 June 2019

Let’s cut to the chase. A substandard Nick Cave gig is as rare as hen’s teeth and on this effort the prodigious Antipodean certainly didn’t disappoint.

Part music, part comedy, part confessional, at times this was raw, difficult, emotional, funny but ultimately powerful and fantastic. Billed as an evening of talk and music, the tour is based loosely on The Red Hand Files, the web-based site Cave runs where fans can ask him anything and he will respond to give an insight into his world. Nothing is off-limits tonight and Cave deals with the wide and varied questions put to him with candour and sincerity.

With only a piano as an accompaniment, Cave starts off with a glorious God Is The House, the vocal strains and twists, high and low, the crowd already wrapped in awe as the song reached its climax.

The questions posed to Cave were rich in variety, from his favourite lyric, what animal he could beat in a stand up fight (yes, really), through to the more emotional journey he and his wife have endured since the tragic death of their son, Arthur in 2015. Many of the questions and experiences mentioned by the audience focused on their own loss or trauma and Cave gave his own, personal and emotive insight and advice. I struggle to recall a time I’ve seen or heard someone explain their thoughts in this way before, the fact you could hear a pin drop as Cave spoke highlighted the respect the audience had for him.

I mentioned there was some comedic moments, none more so than the woman who asked what his thoughts were on monogamy. Cave asked why she wanted to know, the response being “that I am very interested”…… The man in the middle didn’t quite know how to answer that and quickly moved on!!!

The Bad Seeds were of course discussed in depth including the current dynamic with multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis as well as asking if Cave would play again with any former band members. Interestingly, Cave highlighted that Blixa Bargeld, the German guitarist who was in the Bad Seeds for 20 years, was due to play on the last studio album Skeleton Tree but had to pull out due to illness.

The music continued and included covers of Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche and T.Rex Cosmic Dancer, side project Grinderman’s Palace Of Montezuma as well as Bad Seeds staples such as Stagger Lee, Jubilee Street, Into My Arms and People Ain’t No Good.

Redemption and faith were a common theme throughout the 3 hour long gig and while Cave wasn’t sure if God did exist, he did note that it must be difficult for atheist songwriters to write without such a belief. Coming back to that first song of the night, God Is In The House, on this evidence, it was hard to disagree.

John Welsh
@welshjb

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