Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Nick Cave in Vancouver

Through a kindness (thanks, man!) I was able to catch Nick Cave at the Orpheum last night, for the second of his two Vancouver shows. It was quite terrific; having seen Cave close up in action at the Vogue last year, it was interesting to be at somewhat of a remove from the stage, up in the lower balcony, where - unlike, say, the Centre for the Performing Arts - the acoustics are excellent. Cave often dipped out of sight as he performed to the floor; at times his intimacy with the audience seemed to cause concern for security, since a few times people rushed to the edge of the stage to make sure he was okay, even though he was continuing to sing throughout - but his charisma and focus were evident even from up top (and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis provided a reliably interesting figure to watch when Cave disappeared from view). The highlight of the night was getting to share Cave with my girl, who had never seen him before, but songwise, as with last year, "Stagger Lee" was sort of the show stealer. "The Lyre of Orpheus," probably Cave's best recent song, was a welcome inclusion during the encore, but the reading of it was somewhat disrupted by shouts from the audience, who didn't always make the most of Cave's repeated instructions to "listen" (a word which, from the opening track of "We Real Cool," which features it in the lyrics, seemed to get translated into a cue to "scream wildly;" I still miss the respectful attentiveness of audiences in Japan, especially for shows like this one). The other highlight of the night was when Cave brought opener Mark Lanegan back to the stage to do a duet of "The Weeping Song," previously sung with Blixa. The setlist was similar to that of his recent Alberta show, with no "We No Who UR," no "West Country Girl" nor "The Ship Song," no "Watching Alice" or "Do You Love Me" - but instead, "Stranger than Kindness," "Love Letter," "Papa Won't Leave You Henry" (still missing the arterial spray, and abbreviated by a verse), and maybe one or two other songs...

Anyhow, I snapped no photos, shot no video, took no notes, just enjoyed what Cave and his band were doing. When I caught him at Lollapallooza all those years ago, he seemed an outsider, a dark, somewhat introverted weirdo who played more to his band than the audience, and whose presence seemed not wholly welcome on that sunny stage, alongside Green Day and the Beastie Boys and P-Funk; he seems to have risen considerably in stature and cultural currency since that time, and to have grown into a staggeringly confident performer. It's nice to see; best live show around these days, that I've seen (with the possible exception of Swans at their peak, or Bison if you're into that sorta thing). If you've never seen him and get a chance to, do.

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