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CONCERT REVIEW: Buell Theatre, Denver [28/03/2001] by R.K. Beegle Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

Nick Cave and his backing trio delivered a fabulous 90-minute performance, enhanced by the gorgeous surroundings of the Buell Theatre. The hall is part of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts usually reserved for classical music and road productions of Broadway musicals and the like -- complete with uniformed ushers, and cough drops in the lobby. Several steps up from the grungy Aztlan Theatre, where the Bad Seeds played in the mid-80s, or the divey old Mercury Cafe, where the Birthday Party played to mostly clueless audience on April Fool's Good Friday, 1983.

Cave was in fine voice and good humor, remarking early on that "I do sad and angry. I don't do happy." When a woman in the audience yelled out that "You make me happy," Nick replied, "You make me happy, too." Then he launched into a beautiful, subdued "Henry Lee.''

The set list covered most of his career. A highlight for me was a radical reinterpretation of the Birthday Party's "Wild World," with Warren Ellis' scorching, feedback-laden violin playing. (Who needs a guitar?) The show was dominated by Cave's more recent, brooding piano numbers, including a few from his upcoming album, as well as some lovely rearrangements of Bad Seeds songs into the more intimate format of this "solo" tour. (Besides Ellis, who also played accordion, the wonderfully sympathetic band consisted of fellow Dirty Three member Jim White on drums, and Susan Stenger on bass.)

Cave introduced "The Mercy Seat" as "a Johnny Cash song." A killer version of "Stagger Lee" was another highlight, continuing the theme of crime and punishment (or, in this case, non-punishment).

An amusing flub came during an encore, when Cave forgot the words to "The Ship Song" and blurted out an "Oh shit!" before regaining his composure and memory, and picking up where he left off. And in a touching moment, a female fan in the front row presented him with a bunch of lilies, which he graciously accepted with a kiss.

Truly a night to remember. I just wish I could buy a recording of the concert.
Opening act Andrew Bird surely won a lot of new fans with his well-crafted, sophisticated songs and violin-led trio.

 

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