Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds at the Ogden Theatre, 4-3-13 (photos, review)By Jeremy Meyer | April 4th, 2013 | 2 comments
Nick Cave has written novels, screenplays and some of the most enduring songs in rock and roll. He has a shaman-like demeanor on stage and can shriek like a howler monkey. But the Australian who fronted the Birthday Party before going solo for his lengthy career seems to fly under the radar in the rock pantheon.
Don’t tell that to the sold-out house on Wednesday night at the Ogden Theatre where in a few months Prince will hold court. It’s doubtful though even the diminutive purple dude with the funk could upstage the 55-year-old Australian with the Red Right Hand. Nick Cave is a master showman, proving it on Wednesday, by ripping through his 90-minute set and two-song encore with a song selection that spanned his career.
Cave, in a white shirt and black pants stalked the stage, knelt before outstretched front-row fans, leapt, crouched, held hands and screamed and crooned. He began the set with four songs off of his new CD, the brilliant and subtle “Push The Sky Away.” On the second song, “Jubilee Street,” Cave and his backing band, the Bad Seeds, started out slow and somber in the song that builds to a dramatic end with Cave screaming, “I am transformed now.” And, indeed, he was.
The Bad Seeds – a sextet that no longer includes founding member Mick Harvey on guitar – but Cave seems to interact with Warren Ellis on violin and an assortment of instruments. Ellis, who looks like Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull and likes to hawk up huge mouthfuls of spit during the performance, also plays with Cave’s other band, Grinderman. The band was joined on backup vocal by opener Sharon Van Etten.
At one point, an audience member cried out for “We Real Cool” from the new album. Cave scrapped what he was going to play, grabbed a sheet of lyrics and said “We’re going to try.” And the band played it flawlessly. Cave played most of his popular repertoire, including “Red Right Hand,” “The Mercy Seat,” “Tupelo,” “The Weeping Song,” “Deanna” and “Stagger Lee” – a R-rated song that showcased Cave’s dramatic side in telling his rendition of the old blues chestnut. Cave played with the audience, summoned the devil, writhed at the sound of gunshots.
You know this guy does these songs and this performance every night, but he didn’t look like he was going through the motions. And the band who has been backing Cave since the early 1980s was as tight as one would think. One criticism, however, could be made about the sound level – blisteringly loud. But few in the audience seemed to mind.
“I am transforming, I am vibrating. I am an embryo eating dark oxygen.” Frankly, at this show, everyone was.
Jeremy Meyer is a metro reporter at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.
Tina Hagerling is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. Check out more of her concert photography.