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CONCERT REVIEW: The Orpheum, Boston [01/05/2002] by Cat De Leon Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

Live Report:
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
The Orpheum, Boston
May 1, 2002
Words Cat De Leon Photos Karine Albano (Used with permission from

All Photos: Credit and Copyright: Karine Albano

Darkness, light. Joy, pain. Ecstasy, madness. Life, death. Such are the dichotomies in the epic tales of life imparted by Nick Cave. And The Man raised his red right hand to the faithful in Boston on the old day of Beltane, the first of May.

Neither the simplest of reviews, nor the most complex and soaring of paeans could ever hope to capture the experience of seeing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds live on stage. The Horned god danced around the imaginary phallic maypole on the stage of the Orpheum this night. His spell cast the adept upon waves of bloody Dionysian passions, while the blind and heretofore uninitiated saw Orphic visions of raw delight for the first time.

The Bad Seeds meld the sounds of violin, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, keyboards, and piano perfectly so that each composition is executed flawlessly, from pounding and coursing to lilting and mesmeric. The maestro himself alternates between lulling the horde into submission while behind the piano, then engaging them in a wild ritual dance, pacing the length of the stage and flailing his thin rack back and forth in a ecstatic rhythm that would rival any fire ritual from any civilization in the world.

Cave takes us from primordial sex and violent heart rages to beatnik cool in a flash. Still and sophist, clad in black, bathed in ice blue light, he intones tales of love lost in postmodern posture while smoking a cigarette. Nonchalant. Hep. Intense. Unpretentious. Nick Cave.

Pure beat minimalisms flow into plaintive, heartrending ballads, morphing into spaghetti-western apocalyptic omens. Your pulse races and falls, your senses become deluded, and you want to weep with every chord. The violin player, transported by epiphany, speaks in tongues with his bow, and you envision one lone angel, straight out of Wings of Desire, flying up out of the stage floor, straight into the light, and disintegrating, spewing divine blood and grace all over the theater.

And all the while the band plays on, transporting you to another time, another plane. The full, rich music suggests a barren wasteland where the cracks in the sand yield beads of blood that dot the landscape like Pomegranate seeds. The passion washes through, as wastelands fade to lush green, to snow-tipped glaciers. The Bad Seeds play as if possessed, they play to Pan as if they would die, and all the while Pan himself dances a mad reel to Ares, in tribute to the rape of Aphrodite.

The light show is sublime, courting the artist to prophesize accordingly, to emote on the cue of the Muses. The light plays upon the audience's senses left dull by concrete, dictatorial boredom, making each spectator, on cue, crack from a rugged shell and spew forth the light of inspiration, which the Master draws from them as a snake charmer pulls the cobra from a simple woven basket.

"Do You Love Me" never sounded so sensual, "Red Right Hand" never so sinister, and "God is in the House" sung on May Day could not help but bring gasps from the reverent. To close with the tender "Into My Arms" left us at once wanting more, but yet never so satisfied.

We knew we had been initiated by fire and baptized in the ice cold blue, touched by the Red Right Hand of Nick Cave, the Master of mood.

Used with permission from


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