Nick Cave


What Nick Cave has done on this tour has truly broken the mould for how an event can be staged – letting the audience ask absolutely anything, in between performing solo at the piano, no moderator, no other host involved, just us and Nick – a very brave move indeed.

So after explaining how the evening’s proceedings will operate (just raise your hand, and the mic is handed to you by one of the many helpers dotted around on all floors of the Bridgewater Hall), he opens with ‘God Is In The House’ from 2001’s album No More Shall We Part and into ‘West Country Girl’ from The Boatman’s Call album (1997), and then the questions begin.

It’s clear from the outset that there are a lot of troubled souls in the audience tonight, people raw with emotion as they tell Nick their often very moving stories, then how he’s helped. We’re only two or three questions in and already someone has already asked a question about loss, specifically the death of his son. Although Nick handles all the questions well, never refusing an open and honest answer about the most difficult time of his life, at times it feels uncomfortable as if that’s all the audience want to ask about – grief, loss, how to cope, as if by identifying with Nick’s lyrics they’ve found their counsellor. But Nick’s lyrics and music always held the capacity to be much more than that – there’s the dark humour that’s found everywhere in his songs, as someone points out, to which Nick responds by explaining how difficult it is to use dark humour as people are easily offended, but also pointing out that there’s a great difference between being nasty, which is obviously wrong, and employing a dark sense of humour, as that has often got him through tough times, and adding, “songs like ‘Stagger Lee’ are just offensive to everyone”.

He also reveals that in terms of political persuasions he operates more in the middle as “the far left are just as bad as the far right”. There are also great insights into his songwriting processes and his friendship with Warren Ellis: “we’re friends first and collaborators second,” as he reveals that’s what makes songwriting less fraught, as in the past it’s taken its toll on friendships within the band.

There are tales of meeting Bob Dylan backstage at a muddy festival with Bob in a hoodie and Nick remembers thinking afterwards, “why didn’t I ask about this lyric or that song,” proving we all get a bit humbled in the face of our musical heroes, plus tales of seeing Johnny Cash towards the end of his life, and how although he was ill, he came alive when he sat at the piano and started recording.

The highlight for me was always going to be the music itself, and Cave didn’t disappoint. Without the Bad Seeds or Grinderman providing the musical backing, the songs were just as intense, moving, melodic and powerful as ever. ‘Higgs Boson Blues’ built to its epic peak, ‘The Mercy Seat’ is always a classic, and the delicate refrains of ‘The Ship Song’ were mesmerising. A glimpse into the inner world of one of, if not the, best songwriters in the world – a brilliantly unique and unforgettable experience.

Nick Cave: Official | Facebook | Twitter

From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.