Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
SpiritualizedEdit this event
Located inside a once vast North London church and converted at some bygone date in music-lore into a now vast recording studio by Beatles producer George Martin, Air Studios has played host for the past week to a succession of live music performances in association with iTunes; a series of events that culminate in a session by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds on the evening before their latest album Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! gets its official UK release. It is an occasion only bolstered in significance by the addition of - at the behest of Nick Cave himself - Spiritualized to the bill. It’s not something I dwell on but do pause momentarily to consider the ramifications that perhaps Caveman and Spaceman are closer than we might care to imagine.
At first glance it appears a wholly appropriate venue, especially so for Spiritualized. Jason Pierce has seldom veered from his chosen path of love and loss, of God and redemption, of obsessively weaving these subject matters together with narcotic, narcoleptic drones and beautifully fragile gospel arrangements, garage fuzz and free-jazz freak-outs, until it becomes his signature card; a rare and emotive thing.
It is a shame then that it’s all too apparent upon entering the cavernous live room in which the event is to take place, that we won’t be seeing Spiritualized at all, but the stripped-down Acoustic Mainlines. I say a shame, because as great a proposition as Acoustic Mainlines is (and those who have bought witness to it will swear to its beauty), the prospect of seeing new Spiritualized material for the first time in as near as makes no difference half a decade, can’t but leave mild disappointment when it is suddenly snatched away.
Perhaps under different circumstances, Spiritualized would have had enough to make tonight their own, but clipped a little by the billing, Pierce – sat parallel to the stage and opposite Spiritualized guitarist, Doggen, on Fender Rhodes keyboard – delivers a warming and lushly closeting set that draws largely from Ladies and Gentlemen…_ and Amazing Grace. Interspersed between these are the Daniel Johnson cover_ ‘True Love Will Find You’ and a number of appetite-whetting glimpses of new material: ‘Death Take Your Fiddle’, ‘Going Down Slow’ and ‘Soul on Fire’ are all given a run out, and even with lighter arrangements offer tantalising evidence that following serious illness J Spaceman’s artistic fire still burns bright. This is not really surprising considering that Pierce has never released a dud, but bodes well for those hoping that in his cannon of albums ranging in quality from very good to sublime, _Songs in A & E will sit at the higher end of the spectrum.
Ultimately though, there is less Old Testament wrath in evidence than I’d hoped. It seems that the fire and brimstone must wait for the main event, for Nick Cave is a multi-faceted thing. He has turned his hand to writing books and screenplays, to acting, and of course the more recently applauded side-project, Grinderman. These things he brings to The Bad Seeds, who drift onto the stage complete with Dirty Three’s Warren Ellis, like figures from an old Western; shifting casually whilst they await Cave's appearance. His art, you see, is above mere ambition, or desperation, or nihilism, or any of the drivers that we might more commonly encounter. It is worn into him like growth rings, a genuine star quality, a captivating thing to witness, and when the band lurch into title track _‘Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!’ _Cave exudes more vitality than almost any individual I have ever seen. In an industry that is always about fashion and youth it’s stark that what matters more than these things are those facets that you can’t quite quantify until they are thrust before you, stirring something deeper than your fashion sense, and something which spreads further than your loins; those moments when you glimpse a truth, or something pure, or maybe just someone who is so in control of their environment that they lay waste to a room full of people… those things are alluring, and those are the things that we continue to seek.
Sure, Cave is not the best singer, and his preachery style – brought more to the fore on the new material, of which almost this entire set is comprised – can begin to lose impact. There’s a sacrifice that whilst serving to raise the bar on shows, leaves some wanting for earlier songs, less bereft of melody. It’s a small gripe, an ideal, especially in this showcase environment, and it may come to pass that this isn’t the case once the album becomes familiar, but by the time final song, ‘Tupelo’ is played, there is an ecstatic response from those in attendance who finally hear something with which they have some history.
By any stretch of the imagination it would be hard to assume that even less than half of the couple of hundred people in attendance here are anything other than grasping ten percenters and industry liggers. Fans maybe, but first and foremost people with tentacles rooted in, and bank accounts greased by ‘the industry’. This almost invariably sucks the life out of events such as these, but tonight Cave’s magnetism is absolute, and people stand, eyes sparkling. It seems The Bad Seeds’ stock is on the rise, and it may just be that I am towing a line that is becoming common place, following the herd as it were. By the same token however, I can but tell you what I saw. And that was just a band playing a set of largely unheard material to a widely industry-centric crowd, and winning.
- Nick Cave & TBs to headline ATP Iceland + amiina video exclusive + mixtape
- Q1 2013 Editor's Picks: From Bowie to Jason Molina - 13 Must Reads
- "All songs are about The Sex" - DiS waves farewell to Singles columnist Wendy Roby
- DiS Digest: February 2013's Album of the Month, Playlist + more...
- This Week's Singles 18.02.13: Sweet Baboo, Fat White Family, Pick A Piper, Nick Cave
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
- Push Every Other Band Away: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Live Report
- Mixtape Monday: The AIM Independent Music Awards 2012 - 50-song Spotify Playlist