The cinematographer who filmed Nick Cave‘s upcoming Idiot Prayer livestream film has told NME about what fans can expect – claiming that it “satisfies the insatiable need of his following.”
Tonight (Thursday July 23), The Bad Seeds‘ frontman special and intimate performance pre-recorded in an empty Alexandra Palace will be broadcast online. The set was performed with Cave sat a piano, and includes early rarities and songs from Grinderman, right up to his latest acclaimed album ‘Ghosteen‘. The show was filmed in the West Hall of the iconic London venue by award-winning cinematographer Robbie Ryan (The Favourite, Marriage Story, American Honey) and was edited by Nick Emerson (Lady Macbeth, Emma, Greta).
“It was an interesting process for me, because there was no director really,” Ryan told NME. “Nick was the director of sorts, but he wouldn’t call himself that. Normally in my world, you get picked by the director and then they run the show. This was different, so Nick was very curious about how we went about it and was very collaborative as to what I thought.”
He continued: “His world tour was put on hold because of COVID, so being a creative mind he wanted to do something to give people something back. Live shows are also the only way that people make money these days, so things like this help. He was excited to try a new approach for the first time.”
Visually, Ryan said that their concept “changed from being very simple to something a little more elaborate”.
“It’s just Nick at a piano for an hour so we wanted to give each song a subtle difference in terms of colour and effects,” he said. “It’s a really great performance, and you could just film Nick with nothing and it would be magnetic – but hopefully it all comes together.
“Everything is totally live. He’s singing to everyone and himself at the same time and is really just focussed on getting it all right in one hit. We didn’t do any more takes. We ended up with two cameras, and it really draws you in. The one-take approach gives it a real frisson and energy that you only get from something truly live.”
In order to capture the spirit of something truly ‘live’, Ryan said that Cave was keen to keep things spontaneous.
“Nick isn’t a director so just expected and hoped that it would all fall into place,” Ryan told NME. “None of us knew what he was going to play next. He wanted to be free to do what he wanted. I’m really pleased with the final thing because the whole thing feels really instinctual and free. If we planned it more, it might be too streamlined and sterile.”
“It’s pre-recorded but not clinical at all. I like the idea that you only get to see it once, en masse, together around the world as a live thing. It’s an interesting take on streaming, but I’m sure it’ll work.”
Ultimately, Ryan promised that fans would be getting their money’s worth in the ticketed streaming – arguing that it offers an experience that’s been missing since the pandemic brought touring to a standstill.
“To see him performing is what you pay the money for,” Ryan concluded. “There’s definitely an essence of that which translates into this. I wasn’t an aficionado on Nick’s music, but I know that I was mesmerised. I was shook. There are four or five songs I’ve watched over and over again. It’s the purest form of his music as it’s just him at the piano, and his playing is phenomenal.”
He added: “We’re all in a different reality these days and we try to gleam a different reality of what it’s like to go through these things. I really think it’s an intimate experience and you feel like you’re there with him. But it’s never going to be the same. Let’s not be fooling ourselves. It’s not the same as being at a gig. I was there and I had a great time, but I’m hoping that what I captured satisfies the insatiable need of Nick Cave’s following.”
Idiot Prayer will be broadcast tonight and will not be available to stream after its online broadcast on July 23. Visit here for tickets and more information.
The timings of the broadcast are:
Australia & Asia: 8pm AEST
UK & Europe: 8pm BST / 9pm CEST
North & South America: 7pm PDT / 10pm EDT
This comes after Cave launched BAD SEED TEEVEE – an uninterrupted, 24-hour Youtube stream of music videos, interviews, live performances, unseen footage and much more, running to keep fans entertained during lockdown.
Cave was also among the 2020 Ivor Novello award nominees, nominated for Best Album for ‘Ghosteen’ up against Little Simz’s ‘Grey Area’ and ‘The Book Of Traps And Lessons’ by Kate Tempest.