With forty years of innovation and grandeur, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds showed they can not only remain current, but pack the Forum with multiple generations of fans.
Sunday night’s special guests were the dream pop four-piece from New York, Cigarettes After Sex, who have garnered their own global fame in the past decade. The Forum’s emptiness provided exceptional acoustics and auditory echoes, yielding romantic slow dance music for the lucky few filing in.
The people who arrived early enough to catch them were charmed to hear some old favorites off of their first EP, I., including “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” and “Dreaming of You”. The stadium was pitch black for the exception of some ambient lights, provoking a sensation of starlight — the perfect contexture for Cigarettes After Sex.
Jacob Tomsky’s minimalist drumming complimented Greg Gonzalez’s aspirate vocal for “Apocalypse” while polka dot projections popped on and off of the scene. Their mellow performance would stand in stark contrast to the high energy live act yet to come.
Nick Cave bounded on stage with his six Bad Seeds for a performance that can’t be described as anything but a non-stop, high-spirited journey, which is to say a success by any reasonable measure, since theatricality and audacity are essential to the group’s essence.
It was easy to see why as “The Weeping Song” reached its second verse, and Cave jumped and darted into the crowd. Seeing thousands of adoring faces turn completely away from the stage, to the small platform Cave balanced on, as a trapeze artist would a tightrope, was truly a sight to behold.
He then played the Nick Cave hallmarks, “Do You Love Me?” and “Red Right Hand”, though the latter’s lyrics were subtly updated. As he turned in my direction high up in the rafters of the stage, he asked “You don’t have a good seat?” His jovial revision continued, “We’ll find you one!” The audience in my quadrant roared, though the promised seat was just folklore.
Between words, Cave would make his thousands of audience members lift their arms, shout, and clap. They were his marionettes, and he was the puppet master.
Then he asked, “Are you ready?” for 1984’s “From Her to Eternity”. Just like the recording, it was fleeting moments of perfect dissonance and melodious cacophony. Cave jumped backwards and kicked in the air. Warren Ellis flailed his violin around. They even brawled. Then, swiftly as ever, Cave took to the grand piano for what might as well be the unofficial Australian anthem, “Into My Arms”.
Nick Cave has mastered the art of the love song and the ballad. They don’t tug at the heart strings — they awaken the darkest quarters of the soul.
Warren then picked up the flute while Cave played the piano for “Shoot Me Down”, “a song so rare it’s not on the record,” Cave noted. The walls shook from his vibrato as he bellowed, “Your hands, they flutter up / Armed and dangerous, my buttercup/ Shoot me down / In flames.”
Cave then hand-picked a band of hostages to accompany him on stage while he performed his raunchy rendition of a century-old American folk song, “Stagger Lee”.
He instructed his entourage to put all of their phones away. When one woman insisted on using it, he was quick to bat the phone out of her hand, eliminated all traditional and conservative social mores, not to mention his bold slow dance with the burliest man in the bunch.
He ended the evening with “Rings of Saturn”, a haunting melody with cryptic words, leaving the audience wanting for more, as always.
Fans who have yet to experience Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds can catch the final leg of the Latin and North America tour, which will take place in Washington DC, Brooklyn, NY and Toronto, ON on October 25, 26, and 28.