Live Gigs: Nick Cave @ Perth Concert Hall

In opening or the very short version this was unbelievable amazing night but off course what follows is the very long version: In the end it was somehow an almost three hour show of Nick Cave greatest which starting just after ten past seven and ending on the dot at ten o’clock.

Now it’s just solo Cave with his grand piano playing something like 12/13 songs which is full setlist for most normal artists, off course he’s not a normal act because then adding to this show did for a little under three hours with simplifying or just up ending the whole idea of interacting and bantering with the crowd in-between the songs dialed up to the max. It begins with the lights going down for the voice-over spoken word poem entitled Steve McQueen lifted for his doco movie One More Time With Feeling but edited so it’s just the poem and with man himself  walks out in the dark to find the grand piano to opened with the most beautiful The Ship Song.

I’ll say this is the first real totally solo show or tour for Nick Cave. So since discovering him and going along to all his tours pretty much since I turned 18 years old. He’s done a couple of Aussie so-called solo tours but you could have very easy called them both mini-Seeds line-ups in some way but here in 2019 he has no sort-of back-up band or players behind him. In 2018 Bad Seeds toured the world pretty heavy but he did do a small east coast of America run of dates and then one off show in Ireland which he enjoyed them so much he’s done this full Aussie tour like it which off course is tiring in with The Red Hand Files website. In-between the opening song and the literally banging out the West Country Girl song he intro the night of a bit of spoken word, play some songs, try to answer some questions he can and see what happens? Also saying this is be the final one because none more are planned as of yet but I’ll like to add that would be a real pity! But the big news is he’s got done the brand new Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds album and “I’m finding creating it mind-blowing!”

Cave revisits his childhood, back at Wangaratta Railway Bridge which is now painted with his likeness! Photo: Kristena Gladman

Even before sitting down at the Perth Concert Hall, I’ve learn some fun stuff by reading some reviews, bit and pieces of the early shows of the tour. He labeled his 1986 song Sad Waters as one his most Australian songs and a bit of a tribute to his childhood town he grew-up in. Also saying his debut novel And Ass Saw The Angel was set in the book in the southern America states but he regret not setting it or it should have been set in small town Australia because it’s “an Australian novel” but maybe could I say? I’m reinterpreting him now but is his southern American states setting just a metaphor for small town country Australia for him? I think I’m going re-read that novel sometime very soon! In Perth last night Sad Waters was sandwiched in-between Breathless and God Is In The House as closing three tracks at the very end of the night.

Songs he DIDN’T play but were requested were some really great ones and the reasons given that he couldn’t or can’t remember how they go. But Slowly Goes The Night he explained a little more why he/they will never be able to play it or has never been in the past because he wrote that song while up on amphetamines and at the time he was thinking it was a really great idea to fit a lot of hard chords changes together really quickly in one song so it’s impossible to play live.

Saying the song entitled Shoot Me Down should have be on the ill-fated Nocturama album of 2003 which he does write about in the issue #20 on his Red Hand Files website and then someone called Burcu defeats the whole album in issue #21. I do find this album very intriguing/interesting and even a great album myself too but at first hated it like almost everyone else, now I return to it more than some of his other more well known albums. Also just for the fun facts Nocturama was the last album they recorded in Australia and it’s Blixa Bargeld final album were it’s the only one he plays pedal steel guitar which is an instrumental Nick totally hates but Blixa insisted on it. Anyway the some others fans defeating that record came up very early on and the man himself when on to say he’s been now been send hundreds if not thousand messages about love for it so finally the tide is turning for it.

He played some songs like Into My Arms after ask if he remember where he was when he wrote it? Crappy piano in the lounge room on day 14 at a very unsuccessful rehab clinic. After West Country Girl was played he asked about PJ Harvey and explain why or how it ended? I called her up one day and said “Hi babe, how’s it going?” she said in angry voice “it’s over” replying “hey, what, why?” when he was told in a even more angry voice “it’s over” again and that was it and end of the story.

Playing Brompton Oratory after asked what songs he thinks is his best written “been after something like this one for a longtime” How did he react to Johnny Cash covering The Mercy Seat? He played it real cool, somehow the producer Rick Rubin called up while he was on holiday in the south of France and asked if he wouldn’t mind them doing it? He waited like 15 seconds before saying “nope” and then playing Lenny Cohen’s Avalanche cover straight after, like the version he recorded a few years back for the soundtrack of the TV show Black Sails and not very much like the version as the opening of the debut The Bad Seeds album in 1984.

Even more news is he’ll be back down here in Australia and New Zealand touring with The Bad Seeds same time next year, 2020. After 2016’s Skeleton Tree album was released Australia and New Zealand did get a January tour, I guess that’s plan yet again so something to look forward in 12 months. Someone was very cheeky and asked for him to preview a track of the brand new songs he’s working on for that album? “No, I’m not going to do that but it’s coming”

Asked about why LA and why live there? Which he doesn’t live there all the time but is spending more time there now but replying “no one cares if I walk down the street because everyone else there are like they’re from Mars and it’s a very creative place even if it’s not shown that way to the outside world” or something. Then Hollywood and what happened to his script writing? “It’s a shit job” and doesn’t do it after being “so disappointed” about the last one he did which was the 2012’s Lawless film. Then other time asked about Russell Crowe which is a very well-known tale but did added film director, producer Ridley Scott did loved and enjoyed his Christ Killer screenplay but told him “killing Christians isn’t going the fly in Hollywood” or something along those lines which got a big laugh. Someone seen a theater play The Death Of Bunny Munro which he didn’t about but did say they’re new plans for a TV series based on the novel but might not happen again now that he’s told us because it’s not worked out a few times already.

Amazing or maybe not so amazing a lot of Perth songwriters shown up asking him about songwriting and Cave asking them how they did it themselves? So it got so very detail on how to write songs at times? For me the most interesting part about these bits was how it’s changed over the years. Once he self-learn to play the piano in the early-mid Bad Seeds years, he would just turn up to play the band his then new songs on piano in one long sitting and one of these type of questions happened just after playing Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry song so Cave was “just like tonight” pointing at the piano behind him. After the songs were played The Bad Seeds would just got to work in the recording studio on how make them all into an album. The band members always wouldn’t say anything at all too, nothing or no kind-of feedback about if each of these songs were great, good, bad or whatever and they were always totally indifferent about them all and mostly totally silent as he played them for the very first time but once recording had started and underway it was always how to serve each song in these best possible way. In the last few years maybe ten years or more, it’s been a little different because he could have all the words worked out but no music at all but sometimes it’s just a tiny idea or halfway in-between and then he goes working away with Warren Ellis. Then after that they have the songs pretty much ready to go, they both go to The Bad Seeds with them for recording.

The Birthday Party years and Rowland S. Howard was also asked about and even a little tiny bit about Mick Harvey too and how those collaborations ended badly? Someone was then worried about the Ellis collaboration burning out the same way but Cave hopes the very deep and total friendship which is before everything else these days will save their working life! It seems Cave and Ellis are BFF not that he said it in that way but Howard and Cave forgotten they were friends in the first place and these things you learn as you get older. As well as talking about Howard he also detailed his friendships with Shane MacGowan, Michael Hutchence but I would have liked to hear a little more about what it was like being mates with Mark E. Smith who he did say were good friends. I didn’t get to ask Nick anything myself but I think others missed out too. Then again he has already answered one of mine already on The Red Hand Files web-page.

Grief was talked about with also things like depression, suicide, therapy all touched on. Therapy sessions wasn’t helpful for him but his wife Susie has found it working better now than then when it did happen. He’s never been suicide at any point in his life. You’ve got to break out of the depression shell yourself but I did it for him… everything I do is for my son now like this tonight, I’m talking to everyone here tonight but talking to him too… I’m continuing to honor him or something along those lines. Also after a getting away trip to Morocco which the worst place for him to go at the time he’s become a vegetarian and has been meditating for about five years now and both have helped in ways too.

I’ve stopped using quote marks, really you should also take the ones above with a grain of salt, OK? A few other questions/answers worth ending on are: Greatest live gigs he’s been to were in the late-70’s when The Saints came down to Melbourne then. Greatest live performer he wished he could have seen live was Elvis Presley and more his late period in the 70’s than his early days in the 50’s. Greatest songwriter currently working today in 2000/2010’s is Bill Callahan.

I’m ending with Higgs Boson Blues not that’s the last song played plus I haven’t really wrote out the set-list in the right order or anything but have named all the tracks he did  played above. I can’t type out everything said last night and I’m editing/cutting it all down shorter, maybe misquoting a little but finishing it up now. I’ve not been writing about much live gigs lately here on my blog but this one I would rated as one of the very best in a very long time and he’s totally amazing performer and was a unbelievable entertaining night!

Setlist in the right order is:

The Ship Song
West Country Girl
Shoot Me Down
Avalanche (Leonard Cohen cover)
Into My Arms
The Mercy Seat
Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry
Brompton Oratory
Higgs Boson Blues
Sad Waters
God Is In the House


Cheers 🙂

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