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CONCERT REVIEW: Metropolis, Montreal [29/04/2002] by Kathy Slamen Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

It was mid - August of 2001 when I first heard that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were coming to Montreal; my palms began to sweat and the dormant butterflies in my stomach began to stir. What better way to usher in the change of seasons than to watch the brooding, mysterious, dynamic (and oh so sexy) crooner work his magic over a frenzied gathering of fans. My memories carried me back to one magical night in 1986(?) (please excuse the inaccuracy of the exact year it was either 86 or 87, anything before 1995 is just a blur) I had recently seen "Wings of Desire" for the 10th time and having the opportunity to see the film's musical dark angel in the flesh just about blew my mind.

Nick and his crew played to a packed Rialto theatre (for those not familiar with Montreal's famous historical movie houses), this venue suited the occasion like a fine wine to a gourmet dinner rows upon rows of plush burgundy seats, yards of cascading velvet oxblood drapes, adorned with gigantic golden tassels, delicately framing the hardwood stage. The ceiling's ornate shapes and details were etched in a deep turquoise plaster, painted in gold leaf, overlooking the wide majestic balcony. The crowd swayed hypnotically as the band belted out "From Her to Eternity". There was Nick, in a red velvet tuxedo jacket, lighting a cigarette. The smoke slowly spiralling upward toward the single spotlight as he spoke, the crowd silent, hanging on his every word. I could not even have dreamed up such a perfect cinematic memory.

At first it seemed as if the Montreal date would be cancelled. Popular speculations pointed to the tragic events of September 11th as the reason for the postponement. A few days, then weeks passed, and to my joy (and many others) tickets went back on sale for the spring show at the Metropolis. Being the most amazing human being that he is, my boyfriend surprised me with a pair on my birthday - 3 weeks and 6 days before the show.

The Metropolis also an old theatre, was not nearly as intimate as the Rialto, but its general layout was definitely more at par with this venue than any other pop star fresh and modern auditorium would have been. As I milled about in front of the stage, scouting for an optimum viewing spot, I looked around me. Nick's fans had truly become a diversified group from the late teen Goth/grunge set to 40 something business yuppies, we were all here to enjoy the much anticipated concert.

With lights dimmed and smoke machine humming, Neko Case and her two boyfriends came out first. The trio quickly warmed up the crowd with their ominous melodies and haunting twangs of slide, electric and bass strings. An appropriate entrée to what was to be an outstanding smorgasbord of tunes by Nick and his musical ensemble.

It didn't really matter that his young Brando;-esque good looks had now given way to a more mature, enigmatic handsome gentleman, nor did it matter that I was being flattened on all sides like a pancake, baking under the bright spotlights, Nick was still as poignant and energetic as he had been more than 15 years ago. As he sat down to play a series of ballads on the piano, I was deeply moved. I had witnessed the genesis of an extremely gifted artist - the cumulating of decades of entertaining and composing momentarily and subtly soften his trademark scowl. It was mesmerizing.

As the Seeds and Nick launched into "Papa Won't Leave You Henry" the theatre went absolutely wild. Leaning over the crowd with an outstretched arm, he pounced and leaped across the stage in a frenzy reminiscent of a young Jim Morrison. The energy was contagious as people began to jump and cheer feverishly. The band not only came out for one encore, but a second and then a third. It was during the second, that a surprised Nick walked back onto the stage and into a wave of thunderous applause. As he pulled up the piano stool and the clapping began to subside, I filled my lungs with a huge breath, waited for the perfect moment of silence and screamed out - 'WE LOVE YOU NICK', He looked up and smiled. Without missing a beat, he leaned forward into the mic and replied 'Well, I love you too' The crowd went wild. I'm pretty sure he realized how much his Montreal fans appreciated the show after calling him back for one last encores.
As quickly as it began, it was all over; watching the roadies dismantle the stage, I packed away my camera and exposed rolls of film. As I made my way through the crushed plastic beer cups, I looked back to the stage, smiled and said - 'Thanks for the wonderful memories Nick' maybe we'll see you again...

As so many others did that night, I too snuck in my camera and fired off a few rolls of film. I will be posting the fruits of my labour in about two weeks so stay tuned!!


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