So…living in Brighton some Nick Cave gigs are easier for me to attend than others and this works for me. As anyone who knows me well will tell you…deep down I’m very lazy. Imagine then my dismay when I discovered his solo 2015 tour included no hometown leg. I considered a visit to London, I saw my first live gig at the Royal Albert Hall (Dionne Warwick) so that appealed but the dates didn’t work for me and as none of the other UK dates really appealed I decided to go and see him in Berlin…that was until I forgot the tickets had gone on sale and by the time I remembered they were sold out. Copenhagen and a couple of other venues were on my shortlist but eventually I decided to couple a visit to the Den Haag leg of the tour with a friend of mines and my annual Amsterdam visit.
And for that reason I will add the following caveat immediately to this review. This concert was attended after two nights in Amsterdam…my version of events may differ from those of others and in fact of reality.
I had chosen to attend the Sunday date and leaving my friend in Amsterdam I got into Den Haag around lunchtime. An hours stumbling around eventually led to my hotel and I was delighted to realise the venue itself was just two doors away. A quick bath to cleanse away the Amsterdam filth and then a stroll to reconnoitre. I spotted the tour bus and then wandered off and found the “Not Out” bar for a few beers and a bite before the show. 10 mins from the venue and a bar I would heartily reccomend for their IPA, food and warmth of welcome.
Leaving the bar I returned to the hotel, changed and ventured out again, this time with ticket ensconced in pocket. As I went past the tour bus a second time I spotted Warren Ellis catching some last minute fresh air. Approaching him I wished him a great show, he declined a photo, but returned the sentiment…thus far, today was all coming to boil nicely.
Finding my seat in the Upper Balcony I realised I wouldn’t be needing my camera, the World Forum Conference Centre is a good enough venue, the sound quality was great and although no standing seats were sold the seating was spacious…accordingly the accompanying pictures aren’t mine.
Fashionably late Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn P Casey, Jim Sclavunos and Toby Dammit took to the stage, Dammit a last minute stand In for Barry Adamson. With Cave ensconced at the piano for an opening of We Real Cool and The Weeping Song with the remaining band members unlit it was hard not to imagine you were viewing the album cover of The Good Son come to life. Both the opening numbers were deconstructed and stripped bare and this and Cave’s openess and good humour seemed to be the theme of the evening.
Having lulled the crowd into a conferencical (real word?) hush this was shattered with the latest version of Red Right Hand, greeted with the biggest cheer of the evening which was soon drowned out by Ellis and his first series of incredible feedback roar. By this time Cave himself has left the stage and is gingerly plucking his way through the audience, teetering above them on the backs of their chairs.
As I said, no standing tickets for this venue but as Cave launched into Brompton Oratory the number of those leaving their seats seemed to be growing. The audience seeing Cave finishing a dance/embrace/grope with one concertgoer they sensed their opportunity and as one the first 20 rows abandoned their seats and surrounded the main main in what resembled apostolic devotion. As Higgs Boson shakes the building a succession of devotees venture forward to see if they can answer the “Can you feel my heartbeat?” question.
Next up a live version of Mermaids. In previous reviews I have mentioned both my initial concern with Push The Sky Away’s suitability to a chilled lazy Sunday morning as well my realisation seeing the songs played live how wrong I was. Mermaids live with Ellis’ wild contribution is up there with Jubilee Street. A point noted by Cave himself “Warren, that was fucking awesome”.
By now the songs are coming thick and fast, personal favourites among them were The Ship Song, God Is In The House and Into My Arms…is it my imagination or has Cave used this tour to showcase not only his musical talents but also his latest psyche snapshot…if you combine the best of two albums; Push The Sky Away (7 tracks) and The Boatman’s Call (5 tracks) do they reveal who Cave thinks he is? Regardless…the 6 tracks from The Live Seeds album ensured ensured yer man in row 22, seat 21 went home happy.
Black Hair again shows Cave’s open, vulnerable and self deprecating side… introduced as “I wrote this to try to win someone back, yeah (ironic), epic fucking fail”…then follows this with an incredible solo version of Mercy Seat. More PTSA before leaving the stage only to return with a 3 song encore, including another personal fave People Aint No Good.
Years ago I attended my first Bowie concert with The Glass Spider Tour at Wembley…an awful show where Paul Young as support was actually better than Bowie himself…the following tour Bowie went with a best of tour, which I missed but which blew audiences away. As did Cave last night, for me, if he ever stooped to a “best of” for me this would be it. A great evening…really hard to think who currently even comes close.
We Real Cool
The Weeping Song
Red Right Hand
Higgs Boson Blues
The Ship Song
From Her To Eternity
Stranger Than Kindness
God Is In The House
Into My Arms
West Country Girl
We no who U R (sure I have forgotten the last song)
People Just Aint No Good
Jack The Ripper
Push The Sky Away