By Clareo O’Shannessy
The well dressed man himself invited us to slip into a world of debauchery. Beckoning us with its many forms while he confessed ‘anyway I told the truth and I’m not afraid to die’, “The Mercy Seat” Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.
His fans began in the early punk days of The Boys Next Door. Others swoon at his tender love ballads. Some are just new to the scene and want to witness the Melbourne icon that is Nick Cave. Wherever your interests began, Cave didn’t disappoint when he performed another sell-out show on Thursday at The Plenary, Melbourne.
His audience were like pilgrims. An exodus of fans vacated their seats as the show started. They were trying to get the original Nick Cave experience. Once their bodies laced together in the standing room, front of stage, they waited expectantly. Hands were outstretched, seeking the musical touch of this man.
But Cave would not call himself a preacher. No, instead he told musical tales about the existence of those we liken ourselves to and many of those whom we would normally distance ourselves from. Including such a conglomerate of humans, allowed us to be aware of all walks of life. See above quote.
And the show continued. The atmosphere was built with misty blue spotlights. Band members illuminated as if they were a part of a dreary landscape that clear light had forsaken. Nick sauntered across the front of the stage, surrounded with an incandescent
aura him as if the clouds had parted, revealing a divinity, dressed in a black suit with an open white shirt and a shot of black hair tucked behind his ears. Dapper and dangerously grand.
His first song, “We Real Cool” enthralled the audience and encouraged more into his brethren at the front of stage.
Cave leapt into one of his twisted anthologies of despair, playing solo on the piano with “The Weeping Song”.
It was guaranteed he’d cry out about dark creatures and satirical personalities while punctuating each new verse with a signature move, the Nick Cave jolt. A floating finger swayed to the crowd warning them of worldly injustices. He was tainted and happy to share it.
But Cave was not a selfish player, he shared the limelight with his great friend, Warren Ellis. Nick referred to him as Wazza. Wazza was positioned full beam and they encouraged each other through playful banter. Wazza swapped between flute, violin, electric guitar and piano accordion. Truly a talented friend, Cave later saying ‘What can’t he do?’
The night’s entertainment strengthened my interest in Nick Cave. Ever since my brother played me “Into My Arms” many years ago, I wanted to learn more about him. After two visits to Nick Cave: The Exhibition at The Arts Centre in Melbourne in 2008, I was captivated.
The concert was a triple delight. Outstanding music, the lyrical prowess of Nick Cave’s poetic notions; then his presence. It engulfed us all, from those leaning across the stage, to those up closest to the clouds.
The songs swept on and enlivened the audience with their variety and brilliance. “Higgs Boson Blues”, “From Her to Eternity”, “Water’s Edge” and with Wazza on the bell for a combined effort ringing out “Red Right Hand”.
Nick lulled the crowd with “Love Letter”. When he sang, ‘we make a little history, baby, every time you come around’ in “Ship Song” a nostalgic lip was bitten. I careered off into my imaginative stratosphere.
“Into My Arms” arguably a crowd favourite. Followed up with “Jubilee Street”.
The half hour encore including “The Lyre of Orpheus” and “Breathless” was uplifting.
As my brother and I walked out into the Melbourne night, we were in good spirits and wilfully tainted by the legend we had just witnessed.