Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

New sermons from the old prince of darkness. Carling Academy, Glasgow (May 4)

Our visits to Glasgow are always special,” Bad Seeds drummer Jim Sclavunos informs NME. “The most memorable has to be when The Birthday Party played here for the first time. The crowd was raucous from the outset and several people were ejected at the start of the show. As the performance progressed, some audience members were so moved by the music they chose to piss on Nick from the balcony – a warm reception!” “Ever since,” ponders Nick Cave in that guttural, oddly Antipodean-Old-Testament-deity drawl of his, “I’ve wondered whether or not that was a strange Scottish love ritual…”

If it was, gushing rivers of urine would surely greet his and The Bad Seeds’ arrival this evening. Opening with the dark, doomy machinations of ‘Night Of The Lotus Eaters’, Cave’s imposing frame lurches around the stage; part Mick Jagger, part polemic-spewing pulpit preacherman but wholly captivating. Tonight’s set draws heavily from new album ‘Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!’, a psyched-out, gonzoid masterpiece that, on its title track, takes the biblical figure and drops him in the middle of 1970s New York while a fearsome Cave narrates his descent into “A dope fiend, a slave, then prison, then the madhouse, then the grave”. The audience looks on captivated, somewhere between terror and admiration.

But the show doesn’t just belong to Cave: The Bad Seeds deserve credit for creating the weird and wonderful sounds that accompany his evangelical zeal, with special mention due to violinist Warren Ellis, a wild-eyed wizard in the corner who appears to be playing his own shoe during the swampy, psych-blues freak-out of ‘We Call Upon The Author’. As a focal point however, Cave is – as anyone with a perfectly maintained, coal-blac handlebar moustache such as his would be – hard to ignore, especially when assuming the demonic role of ‘Red Right Hand’’s chilling protagonist or showing an uncharacteristically vulnerable streak on ‘The Ship Song’. Once ‘More News From Nowhere’ ends, the crowd drags the band back onstage for not one but two encores – something which seems to melt even Cave’s dark heart - culminating in the heartstopping wrath of ‘Stagger Lee’. This time, the only thing coming down from the balcony is rapturous applause.

Barry Nicolson

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