Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – The Wellington Town Hall May 12th 2005

It’s a good thing that Nick Cave only plays at being a Baptist preacher, because otherwise I would be converted after his concert last night.

The Town Hall was a lot smaller than I remembered it being, but eventually I figured out that was probably because the stage needed to be so large in order to accomodate all eleven people on stage – four gospel singers, two percussionists, a bassist, a guitarist, an organist (keyboard player? what is the prefered title these days?) a violinist, another guitarist/keyboard player, and of course Cave himself, who paced around the stage, sometimes cat-like, sometimes kicking out his legs in glee, dancing like a marionette or worshiping his fellow musicians.

The gig was sold-out, so I was hoping that everyone in the crowd would be feverishly worshipful fans, who would know to SHUT THE FUCK UP when he was playing, especially during the quieter songs, but alas, some dirty looks were needed to be dealt out when he was playing ‘Easy Money’ and the song that is a serious contender for the first dance at my wedding, ‘Babe you turn me on'(because when he says “I put one hand on your round ripe heart / And the other down your panties” I just about keel over in a swoon – plus it’s got dreamy waltzy timing).

As far as songs go, the set was dominated by their recentish Abattoir Blues / Lyre of Orpheus , (‘There She Goes, My Beautiful World’, ‘Abattoir Blues’, ‘Breathless’, ‘Supernaturally’ and one of the highlights for me, ‘O Children’), as well as obvious standouts from their long career – ‘Red Right Hand’; ‘The Mercy Seat’ which built up until the sound was so solid you could breathe it in; ‘Deana’ which made people dance like crazy; ‘Do you love me?’ which was just as dark and menacing as it could be; and a couple of ones that I didn’t know, one of which he said was on their b-sides album and a very soothing song about God being in the house. When they came back for their second encore, he played the first couple of notes of ‘The Ship Song’ and I felt pathetic because my eyes welled up. I have to say that “We talked about it all night long / we defined our moral ground / but when I crawled into your arms / everything comes tumbling down” is right up there with the most expressive and vivid lyrics ever. And then of course there was the song they played afterwards, ‘Stagger Lee’ whose lyrics are somewhat different – “I’m a bad motherfucker, don’t you know / that I’ll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy’s asshole / said Stagger Lee”, but fuck me if seeing that live wasn’t one of the sexiest things I’ve ever heard (it made me feel bad afterwards when I said to my sister “this is what it must have been like when him and PJ Harvey were fucking” and I bent my hands back and banged my wrists together to make that horrible ouch skinny sound). Plus, Stagger Lee shooting the devil? Fucking Rock.

I’ve never heard louder or more passioned cries for encores, and few bands have managed to pull off performances that deserved them quite so much.

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