Photos & Review John Raptis
A beautiful Melbourne summer’s night was permeated with a veritable sea of flying bats overhead. Off to hunt for food overnight whilst the stage lights of Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl were waking from their slumber. Literally, from out of the shadows, Nick Cave walks to the front of the stage to rapturous applause and cheer from the sold-out crowd.
The bats dispersed away into the summer night, the music and an evening of musical magic took their place.
Decked in a trademark blue suit and white shirt, jet-black shoulder-length hair slicked back, the band sauntered into ‘Jesus Alone’ off the brilliant ‘Skeleton Tree’ opus.
A surprising slow, sad choice, but Mr. Cave has mellowed somewhat and the night was to be a mixture of old frenetic chaotic Nick Cave and the newer sadder tunes full of loss and mourning – ‘Distant Skies’, ‘Anthrocene’ and ‘I Need You’ were all played off ‘Skeleton Tree’, as was the title track.
The Bad Seeds are now a seven piece band but all the musical arrangements work so well with this latest incarnation. They gelled together beautifully from the quietest sombre moments all the way through to the blitzkrieg of noise and feedback that attacked through some of the older tunes.
Warren Ellis is now the glue that very much holds this band together and he juggles many instruments.
Tonight, starting out on the piano, guitar, and of course the violin. He is Cave’s right-hand man and they bounced off each other with the usual shenanigans that bandmates who work together partake in. At one point Nick wipes Warren’s sweaty brow with a towel and another time he throws a bottle at him.
The pair have a long history now, and the cues they take off each other seem absolutely effortless. Only once did the show halt with Nick proclaiming he couldn’t hear as he had an awful bass feeding back in his earpiece.
There were a few surprises tonight, ‘From Her to Eternity’ was an utterly blistering version, as was ‘The First Born is Dead’, ‘Tupelo’ ( his ode to Elvis Presley) set to an apocalyptic vision of a tornado on the big screen.
Other favourites included ‘Red Right Hand’ and ‘Tender Prey’s Mercy Seat’.
Throughout the night, Nick Cave’s interaction with the crowd ranged from getting the crowd to hold him as he leaned into the mass of people at the front, to dancing with a girl during ‘The Ship Song’, to putting a feather in his suit pocket from an admiring fan – another got a kiss, to much whooping and cries of “we love you, Nick“
Even though he lives abroad – and has for many years, Melbourne must be one of his favourite places to visit and play. It’s always a case that someone I know sees Nick shopping in various haunts in inner-city Melbourne or he’s signing records somewhere (as was the case recently in Greville Records).
Nick may have lost a son, but he still joked and his wry sense of humour was still evident in the show.
Commenting on the supposed curfew that The Myer Music Bowl had and how he’d be in trouble again (as was the case in Brisbane). But with an act of defiance, he pulled out all the stops for the profanity ridden ‘Murder Ballad’ ‘Stagger Lee’ as an encore and ‘Push The Sky Away’ as the final parting.
Farewell, Mr. Cave, until next time.