Nick Cave, like a real life modern day Don Draper, can turn it on at the drop of a hat, wearing his heart on his smart sleeve while having a room in the palm of his hands with wisdom beautifully told. And he turned it on at the Hammersmith Apollo last night. Like a light bulb; like an atom bomb, to steal Cave’s own words.
For some reason the Apollo had seats in the stalls for Cave. But they were soon ignored. As he walks on stage downstairs becomes like an an old-school away end terrace, with a rush down to the front of the pen. An ex-punk rocker, Cave is now more like a stylishly dressed preacher to an adoring audience, with an open collared shirt (as Draper would surely now have today, leaving the ties to estate agents, the financial industry and archaic organisations.) Cave talks to those at front, looks them in the eye, takes requests and let’s them feel his heart beat in a wonderful Higgs Bosom Blues. It goes boom-boom-boom.
Though an actor, and with a theatrical presence, Cave’s sentiment in 20,000 Days on Earth, that he lives for live performances are surely genuine. As Tim Burgess wrote, singing love songs can begin to fill your day. He interacts with the stalls while the performance and wonderful sound is carried up into the circle of the Apollo.
The tickets for these London gigs weren’t cheap. It is in the ballpark of Leonard Cohen pricing. And there is a treat of a cover of Cohen’s Avalanche in a brilliant encore. The main set had ended with Jubilee Street that escalated enough for some in the stalls to throw some shapes in the glowing light that was shone upon them. Then, the encore began with the stunning We No Who U R, (textually spelt, but perfectly articulated music) and went on to include the masterpieces Breathless, The Lyre of Orpheus and, to finish Push The Sky Away. Five songs there from two of the best albums of this century so far. Relatively, on a night when a satellite link broadcasting a predictable and over-hyped sporting event at an unsociable hour for £19.95, two and a half hours of being in the presence of Nick Cave and some of the Bad Seeds was worth the best part of eighty notes.
As Cave signed off, “Some people say it’s just rock ‘n’ roll. But it gets you right down to your soul.”
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