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CONCERT REVIEW: Tabernacle, Atlanta [06/05/2002] by Steve Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

Evening service began a little past nine. Lines were long, older couples, mostly. Frail, I may say, pleasant enough, and knotted at the wrist. The Tabernacle's lure spidered well across the American Southeast, eavesdropping said to me. It tasted of mixed company. Name a city, state your last encounter--if any--please give your Christian name and turn thirty degrees to meet tagalongs. Mine was the first pew--though steel and never for kneeling. Judging press photos, the gaunt crowd, and the album being toured I expected a humble, soft-spoken man. Suspended within his cult status and above sweaty antics. With these in mind I rushed to the right for a forearm's length of rail and a profile shot of Cave's Roland. I wondered how long until my back would hurt from leaning hunching.
This impression lasted only as long as the calm of "I Sat Sadly By Her Side," whose punctual piano was exchanged for an eerie set of bells. Those who've read Cave's essay, "The Flesh Made Word," would realize see in Cave his father's ferocity for the spoken word. His freshness was spent quickly, given over to the rawness he invented. I wondered how he would react to the placidity of much of the audience. Not that there was any lack of cheers, but certainly there were few that would abandon the mad reaching and waving (no doubt, so they may wear the quickly fading 'I Touched Nick Cave' halo). Cave gave in to none of this, he channeled to those who met his scolding, shaking finger and only reached out to touch two people, both of which he offered. Instead of being quelled, Cave simply singled out those who reciprocated. If you find yourself unflinching during 'Oh My Lord,' this is probably not your denomination. If this lasts throughout 'Red Right Hand'--as it did for the statues immediately surrounding me--I would suggest something Eastern--perhaps the exit.

I was bogged down by them, although I had already counted on becoming introverted, I found comfort in the sightlessness of my folded hands where I was free to sing along and throw my sundry halellujahs (the face that came to mind, however, was unexpected). The two to either side were obviously friends of fans of the Bad Seeds. They nodded every now and again, but usually their efforts were spent creeping slowly along the railing, advancing their power over the barricade and gaining territory, little despotic Napoleons. During 'Fifteen Feet,' however, the burden lifted when I looked up from my hands to spy Cave's feet at my sector of the stage. The refurbished chapel turned playhouse turned concert hall and its wrathful Father for the evening; be they tears or simply sweat running through rivenes ground through years of them, the finger waved viciously my way reinforced His commandment: Save Yourself.

Cave spent much of his time at stage left where he was reciprocated more adequately. Blixy was on the right, and perhaps his demeanor was rubbing off on the crowd. One can hardly blame Cave for lingering there. I'm imperfect, however, and I do blame: The black-haired girl who had followed him from Berlin, the Blonde chatty one doing the same since New York (who bragged of 5 encores yet would not contribute to getting him back for even the first). I blame the brown-haired girl, not because she had clearly never heard him before (I am no elitist), but because of her malignant eyeshots to anyone who showed a little too much fervor. I don't believe she moved a bit, nor do I believe the balcony seats were full. The invitation was open--I caught her glaring at me and I mouthed her a nice smile and a 'fuck you.' You don't go taking the front spots because you want a good view, you do it because you want a personal experience. You want to scream along with the man with the microphone and you want to respond. Same to you, ich am ein Berliner--I promise, I won't ask you or anyone to clap or root for an encore from your walkman, in your leibenstraum.

He slipped a few times, going as far as to lay down both the "table and the wire" (perhaps this doesn't require a permit?). He stopped everything with a 'fuck' and laughed along with the crowd. The show consisted of most of "No More," a few off of "Boatman's Call," and then the Seeds' classic hits. The first encore brought out the (us) creeps from their niches, blessing us with Milhaven, whose verses he broke up in order to introduce the rest of the band.

The second and final encore ended as I hoped it would. The set flashed a sickly yellow red and for the most part the crowd lost its snobbish bearing. Those who did not yield to the purple-coated inferno were consumed by it. I enjoyed very much assisting a rather vocal fellow behind me in ousting the snobbish brown-haired girl from her solemn perch. Both of us now with plenty of territory on the rail (wherewhich to produceth bountiful harvest of fury), an angry boyfriend with leverage enough only to make my smile more teethy, and a terrible shrieking emanating from Blixy (I swear such things cannot be). The purple coat came roaring and singled me out with a big grin and a few stabbing points and introduced the audience to Stagger Lee. The song included an overture including Stagger's encounter with the Devil--the lights dimmed and a red beam bathed Cave as he sung softly this verse. It was a drama, it was fear of failure, oh what would be Stagger's fate?

I was not let down, the crowd shed its despair--Stag puts four holes in the motherfucker's head [sic]. Could there be any doubt?


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