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CONCERT REVIEW: Los Angeles, Wiltern Theatre [16,17/04/2002] by Sybil Clarke Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

I put a total of 1300 miles on my car, driving from Tucson to see both nights' performances at the Wiltern Theater. I drove through a dust storm that stretched for sixty-odd miles and destroyed my windscreen, with worse visibility than any blizzard I've been in. I spent money I don't have. It was entirely worth it.

The crowd on the 16th was clearly all dressed up for Nick Cave. I spotted about a million Bad Seeds' clones, nine million ubergoths, and (only a little surprisingly) Rick Rubin. The energy was high, and the show warranted it. Nick Cave was amazing, with the kind of stage presence that no amount of practice could give one.

Warren Ellis rocked out on the violin, something I hadn't realized was possible. Mick Harvey stood to the far left, and was unobtrusive and wonderful. I won't lie and say I remember many details about the show, but what they played was amazing. "Red Right Hand" was electrifying, while "Into My Arms" was soft and sweet and beautiful. It was an incredible show, and made more so by the long rendition of "Stagger Lee" as a second encore. I left elated, breathless, and excited to see the Wednesday show.

I was completely disappointed by the crowd on Wednesday, even though I spotted Rick Rubin again and got excited about that again. There was no energy and I felt that no one was there to see the show, but to maybe take a quick nap instead on their way to something more exciting.

The Pinetop Seven were earnest and fun, but didn't do much for me; I like their albums better than I do their stage show. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds seemed to have a lot more energy than they had had the night before, but they weren't getting anything back from the crowd and it felt like the level was dropping as the show went on. I thought they put on a better show on Wednesday, but I may be alone in that; everyone else there seemed completely bored. That changed during the encore, a cue-card-assisted version of "The Curse of Millhaven," and not even a hooded card flasher front and center on stage and being surrounded by pushy men much taller than I could ruin it for me.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds embody certain deserty qualities for me, an uncontained violence and humor that sucked me into their music six years ago, and that quality came through in their live show. It was so good, I'm thinking about driving another 1300 miles to see the Austin show. Even though I had high expectations for the band, they surpassed what I had hoped for.


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