Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gave a mesmerising performance at the Entertainment Centre Sunday night. The opening song Anthrocene from his 2016 album “Skeleton Tree” set the mood early, the stage dark and moody and the song an ode to his son Arthur, tragically taken at 15 years old while the album was being recorded.
“Hold your breath while you’re safe
It’s a long way back and I’m begging you please
To come home now, come home now”
The curtains slide back; the lights increase and Cave starts signing the haunting “Jesus Alone”
This is followed by another track from the album, “Magneto.” The set is not dominated by new tracks; “Higgs Boson Blues” and “From Her to Eternity” are next. The opening bars of ‘Tupelo” send the crowd wild. Several more crowd favorites follow including “Jubilee Street”, “The Ship Song” and “Into My Arms.”
Nick Cave’s wiry energy is fascinating to watch. With his trademark slicked back hair, slim blue suit with skinny tie, the performance moved from intense to manic, all the while engaging the audience, holding hands and even getting into some crowd surfing later in the evening. Long time collaborator, Warren Ellis was equally animated as he moved between keyboards and guitar. The connection between the two is clearly on display and the performances of the remaining Bad Seeds is flawless.
The theme of love songs continued with “Girl in Amber” and “I Need You” from the “Skeleton Tree”. By this stage there was hardly a dry eye in the house. However , this didn’t last long as the atmosphere picked up with “Red Right Hand” and “The Mercy Seat” firing up the crowd.
The backdrop to the show had various dark and moody images but one poignant one was of a lone figure staring at the broken Brighton Jetty. “Distant Sky”, with Danish vocalist Else Torp projected larger than life on the screen had an almost gospel like treatment. Once again the heartstrings were pulled tight, before Cave finished with the title track to the album “Skeleton Tree” and walked off stage.
The crowd chanted and clapped and soon the band returned with a five-song encore, starting with “Mermaids” from the 2013 album “Push the Sky Away” and launching into “The Weeping Song”, “Nobody’s Baby Now” and “Stagger Lee”. By this stage he was fully into the crowd, commenting that he was being sexually harassed, but clearly enjoying himself as much as the audience. Finishing with “Push the Sky Away”, the crowd were exhausted and exalted.
Nick Cave is a true performer, skillfully playing with the audience’s emotions and clearly enjoying himself in the process. This was a superb performance that will stay in people’s minds for a very long time.
Words by John Goodridge