Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Live at the Sony Centre, Toronto - Concert Review

LIVE REVIEW: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds dramatize a greatest hits performance at Toronto’s Sony Centre

Nick Cave projected a carefully constructed version of a greatest hits concert, and the diehard crowd ate right out of his hand.

- Aug 1, 2014

There are musicians you go to catch and then there are artists you go to see. Nick Cave falls squarely into the second category. As much as he's developed a distinctive Southern gothic-meets-blues-meets-Old-Testament-terror sound, the past decades have seen the post-punk pioneer write his own lecherous, suavely savage, perpetually unbuttoned persona.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds swaggered on stage at Toronto's stately Sony Centre ostensibly to promote the upcoming sort-of documentary 20,000 Days On Earth, which is playing in limited run across select cities. The band has been accompanying the film on tour, but it doesn't premiere in Toronto until September. So this soft-seat concert somewhere between a career-spanning spectacle and a victory lap for 2013's Push The Sky Away.

Truthfully, there wasn't much of a distinction. After nearly two years of touring, the newer songs fit seamlessly among Bad Seed greatest hits, the more atmospheric slow builds enhancing the explosiveness of songs like "The Mercy Seat" and "Tupelo."

Like any good horror film, pacing is everything.

Credit Warren Ellis, the wild-bearded guitarist/violinist/flautist/all-around-badass who, following the departure of longtime Bad Seed Mick Harvey, has become Nick Cave's (red) right hand man. Ellis' furious fiddling during songs like "We Real Cool" made him look and sound like he was single-handedly hailing the apocalypse, while his expressive guitar solo during "Mermaids" sent the Bad Seeds as close as they're likely ever going to come to Funkadelic. Ellis was the stealth star of the show, but you'd never know it from watching Cave strut around the stage and deep into the crowd, beckoning his many followers until there were a sea of hands around and on him as he sirened "go to sleep my little children, the sandman's on his way." He's impossible to take your eyes off.

20,000 Days on Earth - featuring Nick Cave (first official clip)

20,000 Days On Earth is a strange combination of concert film, documentary and fantasy, a fictional day in the life of Nick Cave written, in part, by Cave himself. It's no surprise that Cave would want to dramatize his process. In reality, it's pretty boring - he famously goes to an office for 8 hours a day, six days a week and just types. It's less maniacal preacher, more 9 to 5 clockpuncher.

But it fits. For all the magnetic menace of his live show, there's a current of undeniable professionalism running through. Between classic rock stage banter ("I can't hear you!") and the obligatory Rob Ford mention (an uncharacteristically hacky lyrical allusion to "a crackhead for a mayor" in "God Is In The House," rescued only by Cave's rare veneer-smashing chuckle) it wasn't so much unhinged as ominous, a very calculated danger lurking before the surface, rarely bubbling over until the violent light-aided gunshot climax of "Stagger Lee." Like any good horror film, pacing is everything.

Nick Cave- Stagger Lee


Discuss this on Facebook and Twitter

Share on Tumblr

Related Posts