Tuesday 19 November 2013

Words Fail To Describe Nick Cave

For the second time in two weeks Australian musician Nick Cave is visiting the Amsterdam Heineken Music Hall with his The Bad Seeds. This is the original first show, but since it sold out so quickly the show on November 4 was added later. This year he released one of the best records of this year and is playing sold out shows that receive the highest praise, something he also proved at Lowlands earlier in August. Could he live up to these high expectations?

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds at Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam, November 17 2013

Cave himself is answering that question in the first song right away. 'We No Who U R' from his last album Push The Sky Away sets the tone for the night. The slow song has exactly the right amount of tension. 'Jubilee Street' follows which makes clear that the fans have embraced the new songs. Although it is a relatively quiet start, there's no way Cave will let us sit back and get too comfortable. 'Tupelo' is showing Cave in his best way: his piercing eyes scouting the crowd, spitting out his words with great determination. Once again the man is in great shape. Every night the set list differs only for a small bit, so any one who has seen a show or has looked at an earlier set list knows what songs can be expected.

But that doesn't mean the music is predictable. Far from it. Cave moves across the stage restlessly, seeking contact with the audience like we saw before: his hand supported by a fan's hand. At the same time he's singing his poetic lyrics with so much fire, as if he wants to convince us all personally. At points he's crying it out. During the quiet songs, the more than 5000 fans don't make a sound. The big hall is completely silent. It gives a song like 'God Is In The House' even more impact while every single one of us is holding their breath. Cave turns 'Higgs Boson Blues', one of those gems of the new record, into a an intense experience. Eventually whispering the words "Can you feel my heartbeat?" while supported by his fans who are holding him firmly. He breaks the almost tangible tension himself by whispering "You can let go now".

Cave is in total control and The Bad Seeds will always have his back. The fine musicians know exactly what the songs need. Their use of dynamics in the songs is invaluable and is the finishing touch. Laid back and patiently the band is playing the slow songs while Cave is massaging our souls, only throwing tiny accents around. Brutal and aggressive eruptions sound right when Cave is spitting fire. Warren Ellis dances around like a mad scientist with his heavy beard and violin play, tossing his bow around stage when he's done. I don't know how many bows he is breaking during this tour. He is an attraction himself and is giving, like all the others, the perfect backup for Cave.

The gloomy sounding 'Push The Sky Away' ends the regular set before the encore starts with 'Abattoir Blues', a song you won't hear often in a live set. Cave already warns they will probably screw it up and he admits "that was fucked up on every level" at the end of it. Was it really? The gorgeous 'Into My Arms' ends this more than brilliant show in a perfect way. The past thirty years seem to have been just a warm up for Nick Cave. I don't think he ever wrote a bad song, but it feels as if the best is yet to come. Imagine what he will come up with in the years to come. Once again Cave proves to be an extraordinary and gifted artist who will never disappoint. All these words simply aren't enough to describe him. Superb, magnificent, grand! They simply don't do him right.

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01. We No Who U R
02. Jubilee Street
03. Tupelo
04. Red Right Hand
05. Mermaids
06. The Weeping Song
07. From Her to Eternity
08. West Country Girl
09. Sad Waters
10. God Is in the House
11. Wide Lovely Eyes
12. Higgs Boson Blues
13. The Mercy Seat
14. Stagger Lee
15. Push the Sky Away
16. Abattoir Blues
17. We Real Cool
18. Do You Love Me?
19. Into My Arms

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