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CONCERT REVIEW: Chicago Theatre, Chicago [26/04/2002] by Brett A. Evans Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

The Curse of Chicago

It was a very entertaining opening act. I have a liking of country music since I was brought up on it and her voice was breathtaking. The set was also humorous (which is always a good thing) and it passed the time very comfortably. I won’t spend too much time leading up to the big show; so here we go.

I’m not sure when Nick Cave walked on stage but it had to be only twenty minutes after the opening act. Nick walked out on stage and said a very welcoming, “good evening.” He then sat at his little black piano and proceeded into “As I sat sadly by her side”. I had previously wondered why Nick had a copy of his book on his piano and I soon found out why – it was actually the book you can buy with all the Nick Cave lyrics and he was looking at the words to the song. Interesting indeed. The song started slowly with each member of the Bad Seeds coming on the stage at different parts during the song until it built up into an enormous epic of a the cynical love song that it is.

Nick Cave then introduced the Bad Seeds with a fine, “I am Nick Cave ... and these are the Bad Seeds.” They then burst into “Do you love me” and Nick took center stage. I was up in the balcony (excellent seats might I add) and I found myself a little peeved that only two girls in the front row were dancing, swaying, bobbing, rocking, and waving at the music. I praise those two women though, and I bet Nick really appreciated it. My memory of the set list is a little chopped up since some stand out above others – so I’m just going to mention my most favorite parts of the concert.

”Oh my Lord” – I never realized how fun of a performer Nick is, but he really moves around and kicks and punches the air. Quite a showman, I must say.

“Red right hand” – during the song, a man came in late (I believe) and Nick started singing directly at him and it was quite amusing.

”The Lime-tree Arbour” – I enjoyed Nick’s introduction into the song. “This is a love song.”

“God is in the House” – a new favorite of mine and I could hear a woman behind me singing along and it made me smile. I had to let out a large scream during one part of the song. Had to.

“Papa Won’t Leave You Henry” – it has always been my dream to see this song live and when I saw an acoustic guitar being given to Mick, I screamed at the top of my lungs (in case any of you were wondering who screamed it, I don’t think any of you did) PAPA WON’T LEAVE YOU, HENRY! Five seconds later you heard the first bars of this manic attack that is a song.

“Hallelujah” – Amazing live. Warren Ellis really stole the show (I have a full praise about him at the end of this review) and Nick singing the McGarringle Girl’s part at the end truly was breathtaking.

”Love Letter” – Nick first started playing the bars of “And No more Shall we Part” and he even got in the first line, but then I believe he said either, “fuck it,” or “forget it,” and they went into “Love Letter”. Nick’s voice was excellent and he could draw you in with any breath whispering, “come back to me ...”

They then leaved the stage and most of the crowd stood for an ovation and applause hoping to get the Bad Seeds back out there. After about 10 minutes of clapping, whooping, hollering, and cheering, Nick and the boys came back out. I did not know what to expect. I’d seen set lists of previous concerts and I wasn’t sure of what he was going to play. Here’s the first encore.

“The Ship Song” – probably my most favorite Nick Cave song. Great tune live and there were more people standing on the floor (finally).

“The Curse of Millhaven” – Oh my god. That basically sums it all up. I failed to mention that the Bad Seeds were totally “on” and this song proved it even more. Nick did the introduction to every band member (Blixa & Warren received the largest ovation) and the song was just amazing live. The sound just swelled around you and swallowed you whole. Nick screamed, “some day we’ve all got to die!”

Nick and the Seeds then left and you could tell that no true audience member wanted to leave. The house even turned the lights on but no one was really budging. After what felt like an eternity people finally started moving and then Nick and the boys came back out to the largest wave of cheers I’ve ever heard. The second encore was just fucking brilliant and it’s still ringing in my ears even when I sit here the next morning.

“Stagger Lee” – Before in the show someone screamed out for them to play “Stagger Lee” and Nick coolly said, “that song would not be ... would not be appropriate.” He said this with a sly smile and the show went on... When they returned for the second encore with those opening notes the crowd went wild and I believe all of the front rows were crowded around the stage as Nick shouted and spouted the story of the bad mother fucker called Stagger Lee (mister Stagger Lee). The song built up to it’s tremendous ending with that scream and then ended and then came the extra-verse at the end. I could actually picture the Devil getting four holes shot in his head. The song then proceeded into that tremendous ending and then stopped. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds kicked our ass and then waved good night. They walked off stage and everyone was worn out.

The sound was amazing. The Chicago Theatre must have the best sound I’ve ever heard. Even being in an arena packed with ten thousands of U2 fans didn’t compare to this sound. The fans were friendly; a lot of black leather, a lot of dyed hair. The Bad Seeds were great musicians (of course) and totally on the same page all night, but let me tell you about that violin player.

I’d heard that Warren Ellis plays with his back to the audience, and it was true. When not engaging into the song, he slyly crouches down and rocks to the music either hugging his violin or holding it in some fashionable way. He was truly a showman and it was very entertaining to watch him. During “the Mercy Seat” (which I failed to mention up above), Warren and Blixa went at it in a frenzy of music. Blew me away. It seemed as if the Bad Seeds knew their places in the band and Warren expanding those boundaries. I will forever see that white coat with its back to me playing the soft surrender of “God is in the House”.

God was in that house last night; some spirit in the walls of the theatre. Great seats. Great sound. Great songs. Great experience. When Nick said to the audience, “I am loved,” it was true.


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