Archive for the ‘Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Category

[POSTPONED: September 24, 2020] The Avett Brothers [moved to June 9, 2021]

indexI saw The Avett Brothers a couple of years ago in Bethlehem. I’d always heard that they were fun live and yes they were.  But oh man, was I in a bad place.  I was far back and behind a wall of people who just didn’t seem to want to let me look between their giant heads.

I’ve had a few disappointing concerts, but this one was hugely disappointing because of that.  I thought I’d like to see them again as long as they keep releasing rocking anthemic songs.

It’s possible I’d only heard about this show after it had been postponed.  I’m not sure I would have gone all the way to The Mann for The Avett Brothers (especially since I was going to be there the night before for Nick Cave).  I was hoping that the postponed date would mean they’d play a show closer to me, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  But we’ll see.

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[CANCELLED: September 23, 2020] Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds / Weyes Blood

indexNick Cave is now forever associated with disasters for me.  I was supposed to see him in 2001 about a week after 9/11 but he cancelled that tour.  Now, I had a ticket to see him and Coronavirus made him cancel this tour as well.

At least I got to see him once in the interim.  The show was amazing, but the venue was terrible–crowded, packed, people singing every word loudly in my ear and I couldn’t get anywhere near him.  I thought I’d really like to see him one more time and this seemed like a good opportunity.

I don’t love going to The Mann Center because it’s so far for me.  But they do tend to have great acts.  Plus, this one was going to be at The Skyline Stage which I’d never been to before (it’s general admission, a smaller stage).

The Mann Center wound up cancelling all of their shows this summer, but I see that Nick cancelled his whole tour.  I do hope he decides to come back (and play a venue closer to me).

Weyes Blood is a quiet band.  Nataile Mering is the main force behind the band and she sings beautiful, delicate music.  I’m not sure how this would translate in an open air venue, but I was very curious to find out.  I hope they team up next time as well.


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may2801SOUNDTRACK: NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS-“As I Sat Sadly By Her Side” (2001).

caveNick Hornby reviewed Cave’s album No More Shall We Part in may of 2001.  I had listened to the album a lot back then but hadn’t in a while.  I found that I enjoyed it just as much now as I did back then.  although I feel it suffers a bit from excess.  At 52 minutes, there’s a song or two too many.

But I was dismayed at the way Hornby dismissed this opening song.

“As i Sadly Sadly By Her Side” is a storytelling song with a repeated refrain.  While it is true that there is no chorus, there is certainly a catchy repeated moment.

The song starts with a terrific slow bass line.  It is staggered and smooth at the same time.  A pretty piano melody sprinkles through as he sings.

There is drama in the song and it slow grows more intense as the strings are added in.  Intense is a relative word to be sure, as the intensity goes from maybe 2 to 4 out of ten, but even that small increase does provide drama.

It is an intensely personal moment between two people–unlike just about any other song I’ve heard.

[READ: September 20, 2019] “Sweet Misery”

This essay is subtitled “The mellowing of Nick Cave.”  This was written in 2001.  Imagine what it would be called if it was written today.

The mellowing refers to his then new album No More Shall We Part which Hornby says is “in patches, so transcendentally beautiful that one can be forgiven a small spasm of impatience: if he had this in him, why did he waste all of those years shouting at people?”

Hornby begins by talking about the ubiquity of pop music in 2001.  How when he was fifteen it was hard to hear the music he liked.  But now (in 2001), if you’re fifteen you can hear it figuratively anywhere.  [In 2019, it is literally anywhere].

Cave’s records with The Birthday Party (in the later 1970s) were “a punk-inspired and self-consciously apocalyptic noise whose main purpose, apparently, was to terrify the audience into submission.” (more…)

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2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

Nick Cave’s most recent music has been quiet pretty and tender.  It’s easy to forget that he has often been a wild man of Australian punk.  His Grinderman albums emphasized that noisy history of his and this song seems perfect for Cave.

In fact, this track seems like a song he could have released with the Birthday Party forty years ago. It’s abrasive and kind of rambling–although with more modern production and sounds. It also has a slow pummeling bass notes with lots of chaotic drumming.

Unlike most of the songs on the record which have falsetto vocals, Cave’s deep voice really stands out.  He is reciting a fairly crazy story of pools and chlorine and how you can touch him if you want.

Quintessential Cave mixed with a few Lips.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #7

Katchoo was falling off a cliff.  In the wide shot we see there is water down below (and a small boat).

She lands in the water and rockets down pretty far (some creepy eels greet her before she takes off back up to the surface).

The man on the boat tries to fend her off with a long pike, but he’s no match for Katchoo who avoids the gun shots until the boat takes off.

Back home, we see Francine and her (cool) Aunt Libby in some relative domestic happiness–Katchoo hasn’t warned her about he gunman yet.

Koo resists taking out the garbage. Francine asks, “when do you want to do it”  “Later when I grow up.”

When she puts the trash in the bin, she smells…something.  Which we see is a pile of cigarette butts and a shoe.  But she is called in before she sees what it is.

Katchoo goes to a small hotel.  There’s a man sleeping in the tub.  I’m unclear what that is meant to signify, but Katchoo leaves before he wakes up.

The book ends back home with Koo unable to sleep (she is reading I Hate Fairyland, by Skottie Young).  She heads downstairs (at 3AM) and sees a male shadow looking in their glass windows. Yipes!

Don’t mess with these cute kids, you hear me!

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[ATTENDED: June 5, 2017] Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

My Nick Cave story is that back in September 2001 I had tickets to see Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.  Then 9/11 happened.  Cave cancelled the American tour (he rescheduled it for the following year).  But I hadn’t heard that it was cancelled (who even thought to call a venue about that sort of thing).  So I drove all the way into Manhattan and then had to turn around and go home.  I was annoyed, obviously, and angry with Cave, although that’s not really fair.

But so this concert proved to be sixteen years in the making.

And it almost didn’t go as planned again.  I arrived at the Electric Factory early–I had heard the show was starting exactly at 8PM.  I was arriving by 7:30.  Perfect. But the lot was closed.  So they pushed us to the next one.  Where apparently idiots and bozos were running it.  It took 20 minutes, and cost a staggering $30 to park.  And to top it off they were trying so hard to squeeze in as many cars as they could they made us park so close I could barely get my head out of the door.  So I had to do some rearranging, and them hurt my arm while wrangling stuff out of the car.

The security line was fine and moved quickly until the guy in front of me had a bag.  That was a huge hold up as the two lines on either side of me flew by.  I walked into the place at 7:58 and it was packed.  There was literally nowhere to move, no way to get closer to the stage.  No breathing room.  I wound up standing in what was really a walkway surrounded by people pushing and a very tall German man who spoke very loudly into my ear while talking to someone else.

And it didn’t start on time anyhow.  I was pretty annoyed by the whole thing and even wondered if I should leave.  The view was terrible, the crowd was ugly and I was already cranky.  But I decided to stick it out–besides I couldn’t squeeze back in to my car anyhow. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_06_24_13McGuire.inddSOUNDTRACK: NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS-Live at SXSW [excerpt] (2013).

caveNick cave performed at SXSW and NPR was there to record the show.

But for reasons only some people know, we only get to hear three of the songs. (Well, technically you can hear the whole thing here, but they only had three songs available for download–the video for which is also at the above link)

“Jubilee Street” builds from a slow piece to a wild and raucous explosion.  It is perfect Nick Cave.  I liked the record’s version okay, but man, live the Seeds just do no wrong—this version is better than the record by a long shot.  “From Her to Eternity” is a blast of excitement belying the age of the song (and of the performers).  It sounds as fresh and raging as it ever did.  “Push the Sky Away” ended the set, and it is a perfect ending to a show.  It’s an atmospheric masterpiece—moody and evocative, stark and enveloping—perfect in this live setting.

I was supposed to see Nick Cave live right after 9/11, but he cancelled his show.  I feel like I missed out on a good one. Maybe I’ll be able to catch him next time.

[READ: July 29, 2013] “Stars”

This story has got to be an excerpt.  There’s just way too much going on and a completely unsatisfying ending for it to be a short story.

As it opens, Jessica is walking through the mountains of Cascade Creek.  She is pleased to be alone—she is something of a misanthropist [“She didn’t play well with others.”].  But as she reaches a meadow, she sees a wolf trapped by its back leg to a stake.  And a man with a  gun.  She immediately runs over and tells the man he can’t kill the wolf [the way this section was set up, i knew she would say this and found her reaction unconvincing at best]. To her surprise, the man is soft-spoken and tells her calmly that even if she were to let it go, it would not show her the same mercy.  She says she’d happily shoot him so that he doesn’t shoot the wolf.  So he gives her the gun and says she’ll never do it.  Which she doesn’t.  And then the man kills the wolf.

The scene shifts to a coffee shop early in the morning.  She looks at the people walking around, and those walking their dogs and thinks maybe she would have been better off is she were a dog.  She is simply different from others. She walks fast everywhere—often people think she is rude when she barges past (and I guess she is– someone called her a “douche cannon” which is bizarre and rather amusing).  And yet for all her difficulties, she was currently seeing someone—Andy.  Andy was boyish and light, the opposite of Jessica’s darkness.  She wasn’t sure if Andy had a job (they hadn’t been dating long), but he did have an office—where she discovered he frequently bedded women.  (more…)

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tny 11.10.08 cvr.inddSOUNDTRACK: GRINDERMAN-Grinderman (2007).

grindermanNick Cave has been making interesting and varied music for decades.  From his original noisemakers The Birthday Party to his countless albums with The Bad Seeds, there isn’t really a style that Cave hasn’t explored.  In fact his last four albums with the Bad Seeds cover some vastly different terrain right there.

So, why, one wonders, does he need to create a side project?  I’m not sure if the project was his idea or for some of the Bad Seeds to get a chance to play without the others (the other three members of Grinderman are in the Bad Seeds), or if it was just a fun and loose way  to play some tunes, but regardless: with Nick singing, you’ve basically got a Bad Seeds project.

Nevertheless, this project experiments with music in a way that the Bad Seeds haven’t really, or for that matter, in a way that Cave hasn’t since The Birthday Party.  There is a lot of distorted/feedbacky guitar, and strange effects that fill these songs.  In fact, there is no acoustic instrument on this disc…not even Cave’s piano!

“Get It On” starts the record in a suitably raucous way: “I’ve got some words of wisdom. (He’s got some words of wisdom)”.  “GET IT ON! GET IT ON!” etc.  And “No Pussy Blues” is a wonderfully funny blues about, well, the title says it all.  I particularly like that he sings the verses of the song seemingly too long, so that they overlap the “But she didn’t want to” parts where the music changes at the end of the line.  “Depth Charge Ethel” is all chaos and noise and “ooh ooh” backing vocals.  And “When My Love Comes Down” and “Love Bomb” keep up the rocking, noisy experiment.

“Electric Alice” slows things down, but adds to the noise and distortion.  And “Go Tell the Women” is a very funny, borderline spoken-word piece: “We are scientists We do genetics We leave religion To the psychos and fanatics But we are tired We got nothing to believe in We are lost Go tell the women that we’re leaving.” The guitar is simple and plunky and might even come from something Tom Waits did, and it works perfectly.  “Man in the Moon” is a sad ballad, where you might expect the piano, but which keeps the electronics high.

“I Don’t Need You (To Set Me Free)” is the most Bad Seedsesque song of the bunch, and could easily have been on, well, any of his recent records.

I guess in answering my initial question, if there’s a reason to make this a side project release it is to let the Seeds have a lot of fun.  You can feel how loose this record is and tell that it was a blast to make.  Not that his Bad Seeds records are a tight ship of control (see the 15 minute “Babe, I’m on Fire” from Nocturama for an anything-but-tight ship).  This collection also really lets Warren Ellis shine.  I don’t know how much he contributes to the Seeds in general, but his work is all over this, and it’s a fun difference for Nick’s voice.

[READ: November 13, 2008] “Leopard”

Wells Tower is a name that you don’t easily forget. I had read a story by him in McSweeney’s and enjoyed it.  But I think his name stayed with me more than the story.  When I saw his name again, I was intrigued.  The first few paragraphs were also very intriguing so I read on.

The story starts with a youngish boy not wanting to go to school (in a very funny scene, his cold sore is described as a hamburger).  He finally convinces his mother to let him stay home.  But, unlike Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, the story takes a rather dark turn.

We learn about the youngish boy’s stepfather who is a tough disciplinarian and who expects hard work out of him.  He does the work but resents his stepfather greatly.

On this, his day off from school, the young boy tries to avoid his stepfather.  However, he is put to the task of getting the mail—half a mile down the driveway.  He tries to make a point and show up his stepfather by faking an accident in the driveway.  His plans go somewhat askew when it’s not his mother who pulls in the driveway, but a stranger.

The story, although dark, was enjoyable.  It won’t be hard to remember Wells Tower’s name, but I’ll keep an eye out for it in the future. This story also happened to be the second story I read that day (I had just finished the last few pages of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach) that mentioned splitting logs for the “wood burning furnace.”  Not exactly an unheard of activity, but not entirely common either.  What a weird coincidence.

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