My review of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Live - Los Angeles. February 21, 2013.
Everything was decadent tonight, even the paintings on the wall of the Fonda Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, not far from where I live, and where the Nick Cave and The Bad Seed's concert took place. His voice was, his body like a vampire snake, while mine danced like never before, just following the rhythm of his stories, and pretending no one rubbed against me, screaming, jumping, sweaty. I don't like that anymore. There's no buffer, I'm clean and more vulnerable than ever. So I danced alone like smoke out of thin air on a Los Angeles morning, when you don't know if it's allowed to be cold yet it's February.
Everything was decadent tonight. Nick Cave was, in his silk black shirt and in his familiar yet mysterious handsomeness. Warren Ellis' long beard was decadent too.
Everything was decadent and gorgeously wild. Just like London in the 1980s.
Music makes you feel good just like drugs do. It's a rush. Endorphins release. It washes over you. Not as intense, and it does not last that long yet it recreates the 'cotton world' for a little while, the world where pain does not exist and orgasmic pleasure takes over. It is a world where you feel just fine, covered by a warm blanket that takes the unwanted away. Now, I don't know if it is because Nick Cave knows what it feels like - the desperate need for the buffer. Nonetheless, he surely knows how to give you a fix of it, for two hours or so.
PART 1: Push The Sky Away
The stage is crowded (a little too much for me); Nick and The Bad Seeds are accompanied by the Silverlake Children Conservatory, arch quartet and back singers for the first live performance of their latest work, Push the Sky Away. It sounds beautiful, especially the unexpected explosion of sound, light, drums, and (finally) of Nick's energy in the song Jubilee Street yet there is something missing to my starving ears. I have never seen Nick Cave live before. And I cannot settle for this only, although loving the new album. Push The Sky Away is a masterpiece yet I want the legend!
After the first song he quietly announces that they are going to play the whole album in the exact order; nine songs as they were recorded in the south of France. At first, I think it is a joke. However, that's exactly what they do. Beautiful sound, I actually like it, but they are not the Bad Seeds. He is almost shy on stage, scared of releasing that chemical compound I am after. He seems scared of being the Nick Cave I thought I would encounter on stage. "Maybe it's because there are children" I say to myself "Let's wait. They have to go to bed at ten." Nick had said just minutes earlier. So, I wait. I enjoy my favorite songs, let every note and every word in. And without even realizing it, still not dancing, I am in first row. I am not disappointed, but I am still waiting for the authentic Nick Cave experience. Who knows, maybe I am an eternal unhappy looking for something I cannot have. Nevertheless, I am waiting for the trip, the journey, when he doesn't follow the rules, and gives himself away. Maybe I am wrong, but I'm still waiting for him to take off the Push-the-Sky-Away-mask.
PART 2: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
You know that feeling when you go to a party and you start to have fun only when it is about to end? Not that I really like parties, but that's the familiar feeling I could grasp, to describe the intimate night at the Fonda. And I usually start to enjoy things when they are about to end anyway, or when few special people remain, and the crowd I do not care about finally leaves. I am talking about that special moment when the few good old friends start to clean up the dirt. Do you feel what I'm feeling?
Well, Nick thanks the kids, then the back singers, and then the extraordinary arch quartet.
That's when magic happens.
He transforms, the stage does. And I do, too.
The real Nick Cave starts opening the closet of a past we are all waiting for: Jack the Ripper, The Mercy Seat, Stagger Lee, Love Letter...Now I can see the genius in his possessed yet deep and melancholic eyes. He becomes dramatic and theatrical, he talks love and death, the dark Cohen, the gothic Cash, whores and wives, sex and God. He changes themes just like a chameleon changes in color. He is a black chameleon and he tells his stories with such an immediate poetry within, that you cannot help but being hypnotized and move your body to it. For you are not truly dancing. He is a viper. He is a lost soul just like you and I. And an angel, too. He still writes love letters and awaits in the rain for his lover to come back. He screams at you and waves his body like a serpent because he knows you want to drink his words like ink from his jet-black hair. The bad seeds are an extension of his genius; they explode and implode together, and together they exhaust, while sharing the pleasure and the energy with the audience.
They knew we were waiting for this moment, the private party, just us and the old stories we are never to tired to hear.
Joan Didion wrote that we tell ourselves stories in order to live. I tell myself stories all the time.
I told myself a story tonight. I was out of time, and I was dancing in East London, on a very dangerous street. It did not rain.
I danced a few inches from Nick Cave covered in sweat. I crawled like a snake and let the red of my hair become one with the clean sound of his ageless voice, when every unwanted feeling was finally gone.
When I went home, I waited in the car a little while.
I could feel the Nick Cave experience on my skin.
Everything was decadent tonight, just like London, in the 1980s.
Keep on pushing, keep on pushing, push the sky away.
Coming up next, Clint Mansell. Don't miss it!