Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on the Silver Screen |Eden Court, 12th April, 2018| Cornwallace
As I sit down to write this, it is exactly a week ago that I was sitting in the La Scala cinema at Eden Court, watching the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gig that had been recorded live and then put out to cinemas across Europe as a once off event, all on the same night. I am starting writing at the equivalent of one hour into the show last week, on Thursday the 12th of April, meaning it has about 1 ½ hours still to go.
It might have been simulcast (if this is still the right word) further outside Europe also, but I didn’t give myself a lot of time to read the details of it. Also I really didn’t have to read the fine print to be sold on the event. I was thinking about it anyway, and then there was a last minute nudge from Fremsley, who was also keeping the company of the good company he tends to keep.
It was a different angle into seeing a Nick Cave show, and this is something I was always going to be interested in. So meeting them with a few minutes to spare to say hi, I launched straight from decision into seeing the event. It was a good decision, in the end.
It is a hard thing to try and judge. The first thing that I thought after coming out of the cinema – well, there were a few competing thoughts right at the time. One that has stayed with me is ‘gigporn’.
I have been to see them a number of times. They are one band that I will just try to see come what may, because of how flat out good they are at what they do. This particular concert that was recorded was from the ‘Distant Sky’ tour for the Bad Seeds, at a gig in Copenhagen in October 2017, so I read.
With class and style and energy and playing with the crowd they as a band are and also how sharp and tight and professional they are as a unit – and it being recorded – it was almost always guaranteed to being a fucking good gig.
All of this was there and on show and captured beautifully by the recording. They had up close and personal cameras on all the band members. For me getting to see Warren Ellis is part and parcel of how compulsive it is to want to see them, and how charged up and bouncing the gigs are in their up moments. I like seeing all band members, but something about Jim Sklavunos this gig stood out as well, on an array of instruments.
They know how to play their audience, and bring the mood up and down and to weave in songs together across decades that work well together as a running order for the songs. There were also close ups of the piano that Nick Cave did some songs on and added in short bursts to some other songs also. He had the running sheet in big lettering you could see. Not sure if I liked that or not. But on it there was from memory just after half way though the set list a run of ‘From Her to Eternity,’ ‘Tupelo,’ ‘Red Right Hand,’ and then it fell from there into the second half, being more like 80-90 minutes, which included ‘The Weeping Song,’ Stagger Lee’, ‘Jubilee Steet’ and managed to finish with songs from the more recent albums such as ‘Skeleton Tree,’ and ‘Push the Sky Away,’ the titled song for which being their final crowd involving and crowd pleasing finish to the encore.
It was so well done, and well captured, and I really enjoyed watching it. But inescapably there is a counterbalance to that in my head, an aspect that I can’t shake in terms of the experience. It was that it was a great gig, but I wasn’t at it.
I wasn’t gonna go follow the band around the world or anything, so it gave me an experience that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. It also immersed me in that experience as much as it possibly could. But there is another important factor here. It’s a major fact behind The Nettle being up and going as well. All at Nettle just love live music.
I’m sure that we’re in the majority with most potential readers here, if any, as also with everyone in the world generally. This is as we are correct that live music is just one of the best experiences one can have.
Please don’t start comparing it to your first born child and such, I’m just saying it’s just that live gigs are a good thing in this whole ‘life’ thing. This was a great gig and I have seen them live a number of times before and I can very clearly imagine the time that the crowd were having.
But I was sitting in a sedate theatre, not rolling and sweating and singing and dancing and melting into the whole show like I would have been if I was there. The fact that it was a recording of a live show, as opposed to being at that live show, is a thing. It’s where the idea of gigporn won’t be shaken.
You’ll have your own thoughts on both recorded concerts vs being there, for the positive and negative both ways, most likely. In the same way you’ll have your own opinion on porn, I imagine, so sorry if this is not an analogy that works for you.
For me it just means that my experience of the gig would have gone up to a place that a virtual or recorded experience of an event can’t reach. But for what a recording can do, it was a great gig.
For me, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are just one of those bands that are so good live that you just want to make sure you take every experience to see something that they do. As an aside, this is one reason I was so annoyed I missed Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 gig in Forres last weekend because of being sick. Not good timing at all. I’m sure you have your own examples of these must see bands. Or at least I hope this for you.
The Bad Seeds – or Grinderman, who are a subset of the same musicians, are must see’s for me. For this particular recording, this was always going to be an emotional concert, the last 2 albums having strong associations with the feelings following the death of one of his children, at the age of 15. This topic is also front and centre in the documentary ‘One more time with feeling.’ It’s meant to be great, I’ll see it but haven’t yet.
There are a range of elements that all come together to make them a great live act.
Nick Cave has a great literary strength which is a part and parcel of the songs, along with the voice and what the Bad Seeds all uniquely bring to it. It works on so many levels, it is what makes it both a class act and a mesmerising act as well. When you know they are being puppet-masters to yourself and deciding on up moods, down moods, slow, angry, brooding like the version of ‘The Mercy Seat’ they played in Copenhagen also – really any mood they decide upon the crowd got swept up in. You know it, you realise it but you willingly roll with it. As I say, they are good at what they do.
A week out from the concert I still grapple with the base element of it being a recording of a concert, rather than the experience of being at a live gig, which unfairly I think is an experience the recorded version can’t stand up to.
But it was a great thing to see, and much cheaper, and just over at Eden Court, so I loved it anyway.
Unlike me, you might like recorded gigs more instead, in which case hopefully you were there.
I think as a medium, this definitely has legs. I also think that the idea of it being at somewhere like Eden Court is appropriate as well, for the cinema itself and what they show, as well as the size of the theatre.
There was great energy in the cinema, but it wasn’t the same as being there. Again, ‘gigporn’ rears up when I’m trying to get my head around it.
But it made me want to write this week, as the beauty and the flat out brazen open ability of his lyrics give images continuously, and it made me want to write. And I’ve been listening to them all week since.
Maybe that it the point on which it all rests. It’s good enough at least for me to end on.
It you think otherwise to any of my opinions above, it’d be interesting to read your opinion.
I think that there’s an option to put comment on here somewhere. WD, can you answer this question?…