First for music news
This Week's Issue
You’re logged in

London SE1 Royal Festival Hall

There are utterly hilarious segments  notably the funereal reading of [B]Boney M[/B]'s [B]'Rivers Of Babylon'[/B] and [B]Kylie[/B] popping onstage to recite the (according to [B]Nick[/B]) "violent

London SE1 Royal Festival Hall

The storm clouds strangle the full moon and a hush descends in the Church Of The Damned. He's coming. The Man In Black, the Dark Saviour of bleeding souls, the Forehead Of Doom. He strides up to the pulpit, eyes blazing pure hellfire, and begins his sermon: a spittle-drenched vision of apocalyptic violence and God's eternal fury descending upon the fetid Earth blah blah, southern preacher blah blah, unleash the bats blah blah, shagged Polly Harvey once blah blah, have we mentioned the forehead blah blah blah...?

Congratulations! You are the one billionth customer to read the above paragraph, or something similar, as an introduction to a Nick Cave review! And, as a very special prize, for the first time ever, we are not making this shit up! He really is here to preach unto us his wisdom, to dissect his philosophies on love in all their brutalised glory. There truly is a lectern onstage! Although nobody's set it on fire just yet.

Instead, alone at a baby grand, he plays us 'West Country Girl', a clattering cacophony of a ballad, more coroner's report than croon. "That was a love song," he claims, by which we can only assume that he was in 'love' with our Peej as a herd of stampeding bull elephants is in 'love' with a sleeping badger. "Love songs are a hoarse voice in the dark that cries, 'Beware, beware, BEWARE!'" he continues, pauses, coughs. "I'm Nick Cave and I'm going to do a lecture."

The lecture in question is entitled 'The Secret Life Of The Love Song', but should really be called 'Ranting Feverishly About God, Death, Psalms, The Crucifixion And My Ex-Girlfriends Like A Tube Station Nutter On Crack'. There are utterly hilarious segments - notably the funereal reading of Boney M's 'Rivers Of Babylon' and Kylie popping onstage to recite the (according to Nick) "violent and distressing" lyrics to 'Better The Devil You Know'. And there are intelligent points made about how we create our own catastrophes if they don't pop up on cue and the like. But, Christ on a flaming brimstone chariot of damnation, the blustering...

When Nick Cave finally sits at a piano and plays these perverse odes of blood-clotted love, his standing as one of the world's leading authorities in the field is undeniable. 'The Mercy Seat', 'People Ain't No Good', 'Far From Me', 'Henry Lee': wracked and tortured beauties all. A stripped-bare 'Stagger Lee' sounds like Neil Diamond slaughtering cattle, while 'Into My Arms' is the most spine-shivering experience you can get outside Bangkok. We're told.

We love these songs like fatally crippled brothers, but we don't want to sit in on their post-mortem. By the final encore the back rows are calling out for 'Waltzing Matilda' and 'Dancing Queen', anything for a break from all the staff-waving and bared innards. But, despite all the preaching and chest pounding, all is not lost. At least The Watchtower isn't on sale at the exit.

To rate this track, log in to NME.COM

To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday

Comments

Please login to add your comment.

More Videos
More
Featured Videos
Latest Tickets - Booking Now
 
Know Your NME
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
 

 
NME Store & Framed Prints
Most Read Reviews
Popular This Week
Inside NME.COM
On NME.COM Today