Thursday, 30 May 2019

On Stage: Conversations With Nick Cave @ Concertgebouw



A while ago Nick Cave started a website The Red Hand Files, where he answers questions from fans. It was inspired by the messages he received from fans after the death of his son in 2015, and it turned out they were comforting him and his wife. He started connecting with his fans in a different way, more direct and personal way, also at concerts and noticed how this helped him get back on his feet. Now he's taking the next step on a solo tour where he will answer questions and of course play a few songs.

Conversations with Nick Cave at Concertgebouw Amsterdam, May 26 2019



No one really knows what to expect tonight, including maybe Nick Cave. He says it is a work in progress and has no idea what will come up out of it. In the end he thinks a dialogue with his audience will deepen the connection he feels. It is quite terrifying to let people come this close, but at the same time that is the beauty of it. At one point he tells us, some people were advising agains these nights, since it may hurt his fragile recovery from the big trauma that hit him and his family.

Scattered around the beautiful concert hall are people walking around in vests with a the letter "Q" on the back and a small red hand on the front. They are holding big glowing sticks and a microphone. When you have a question you simply raise your hand and with a bit of luck you get the mic to talk to Nick personally. Most people will start with a "Hi Nick", as if they have met before. It is illustrative of this intimate evening, where the distance between him and the audience disappears. Nick Cave is letting people come as close as he can, by answering all questions, anything goes. In a calm way he walks around stage, looking into the direction of the person asking the question. In the same way, with his deep dark voice, he answers them from the heart and sincere.

The questions are diverse as to be expected, and many people want to know about his music and music in general obviously. He tells a musician, he's not one of them. He doesn't want to change the world, but he simply takes a look at the world and tells stories in a visual way. He addresses his disciplined way of working, considering it a full time job like any job, always full of doubt about his work. But he needs to show it to the world, no matter how much doubt he has. It's our job he tells a girl who is making art as well. On the obvious question about his inspirations, he hands out a list passed to the person asking about it, since there are simply too many.



There are many questions about religion and his relation to God and Jesus. People want to know about his view on the world, how he's doing. There's a teenage girl asking about his music and he answers in the most perfect way. A lady tells him that her son got on stage at a show and then seven months later at a festival show, he recognized the boy and asked him on stage again. She wonders how he recognized her, but Cave doesn't really know, he simply does. It turns out the boy is here tonight as well, who asks for a hug. Of course Cave invites him on stage and gives the young man a big bear hug. It all goes down in a relaxed atmosphere where Cave seems to be comfortable and there's plenty of room to laugh.

This is who he is now, a man reaching out to people, connecting, searching for comfort. It is healing him and it is beautiful and moving to see how he is doing that. Of course he plays a lot music as well. Beautiful versions of 'The Mercy Seat', 'Jubilee Street', 'The Ship Song', the always gorgeous 'Into My Arms'. They all sound terrific in this concert hall with just a piano and his dark voice is even more impressive with the acoustics in here. He chose his setlist well and turns down some requests for songs since he either doesn't remember the chords or lyrics, or they wouldn't sound good on just a piano.



This was a very special night and I think we got to know the person Nick Cave a bit better as he gave us a peek into his soul. And it's a gentle soul, one that is trying pick up the pieces after this big tragedy, trying to cope with life, struggling like all of us. In the end he feels the healing power of a human touch and that is deeply moving. There was room for reflection, laughter and lots of music. He tells us that he always tries to stay authentic. I think he's doing a great job at it and I hope he will find what he is looking for.

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