It is rare that a show impresses me so much that I can barely think of anything to say to describe it. Last night, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds put on an absolutely incredible show at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, and I was fortunate enough to be right in the front row for the entire two-and-a-half-hour affair.
Cave and his band have a manner about them that is professional, stoic and formal. They wore black suits and tuxedos and were perfectly timed with each other, and played an absolutely beautiful and ornate, old theatre. This gave a great contrast to Cave’s manic, hysterical performance and intense one-on-one delivery with fans.
Last night was no exception for Cave’s darkly theatrical antics, as he not only jumped out into the arms of fans from blocks set up around the stage in the crowd, but he also tried to push further back into the crowd on the floor, making it to the middle of the crowd during the incredible encore performance of “Stagger Lee.” When not in the crowd, he paced rapidly back and forth, his eyes darting around wildly and searching for his next audience member to serenade. Someone I went with describes him as a “black panther” up on the stage: crouched, lean and on the prowl for his next fan.
Despite his austere and stern demeanor, Cave was also a friendly and inviting frontman. He smiled and laughed at the crowd yelling jokes up to him, said “I love you too” to screaming fans in the balcony and addressed a woman in the crowd holding a sign requesting her favourite song with “I would love to, really, but you see, our pianist is in hospital…You made such a nice sign though.” During the final song of “Push the Sky Away,” Cave even invited audience members in the front row to jump up on stage with him. And I’m very happy to say that since I was indeed in the front, I was on stage with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for about three minutes. With a bunch of other fans, but still.
The band themselves did a great job too. I was impressed by how well the two percussionists managed to keep time together, and the violinist alternated between playing with a bow and holding his violin like a guitar, strumming and wailing on it. He also played an actual guitar and a synthesizer/tape machine throughout the show. I also appreciated how much bass guitar was in certain songs.
I went into this concert knowing a few songs like “Red Right Hand,” “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” and “We No Who U R.” After seeing the band, I can’t wait for them to go on tour again. Cave’s quality of performance as a frontman and how interactive he is (something I appreciate dearly in a performance) kept me even more engaged and enthralled with his tales of love, murder, death, faith and grief. The band’s beautiful instrumentation sounded just as wonderful, sombre and dread-inducing as the records. They played an excellent balance of their bigger songs (“Into My Arms,” “From Her to Eternity,” the aforementioned “Red Right Hand”) and newer material, including six tracks from 2016’s “Skeleton Tree” (and after hearing about Cave’s loss of his son during that album’s sessions, I will definitely keep the family in my prayers).
If you get the chance to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds live anytime soon, take it. This show was surreal in how much I enjoyed it. I’m still in shock that yesterday Nick Cave jumped into the crowd next to me and fell on top of one of the friends I was with. Long live Nick Cave, and may he and his talented band continue creating gothic rock songs that speak of the dark side of human nature like nobody else can.
Thanks for reading, a great weekend to you and God bless.