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CONCERT REVIEW: Roseland Ballroom, New York [24/06/2003] by Emma Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

IN THE NEW YORK ANIMAL NIGHTTIME ENCLOSURE

With the mercury hovering around 90 in steamy Manhattan, a line of black cloth was forming from the entrance to the 3-4000 capacity Roseland Ballroom down 52nd Street, New York City.

And for this Melbourne lass who'd travelled from the centre of Europe to her favourite city to see her hero, the atmosphere provided the heat and excitement appropriate for the presence of the musical and lyrical genius that is Nick Cave.

Flanked by my two favourite New Yorkers, I entered the venue and escaped the Summer heat to collect our tickets, our beers and then to ferret our way into the crowd.

Although the thrill to see Nick was overwhelming, being a Nocturama sceptic, a part of me was unsure of what to expect from the man who, since I first heard Shivers by The Boys Next Door, changed not only my idea of music, but of life.

However, after the disappointing opening act, Calexico (though it would be pretty hard to impress anyone when Nick's the act we all want to see,), which was followed by a couple of fun solo numbers by Chris Bailey (looking a little worse for wear) Nicholas Edward Cave, dressed in a trim fitting black suit and black shirt, sporting his new shorn locks, floated across the stage in all his holiness and blessed his fans with a greeting. Then he took the piano stool at his black Yamaha grand, which also functioned as a bar table complete with ashtray, bottle of red and wine glass and, with his divine, profound voice, invited us in across the purple fields.

>From this first moment the crowd was drawn to him and the tempo and
>passion - created by his delivery of the first bars of Nocturama -
>didn't dissipate and he sang numbers from all the Bad Seeds studio
>albums (barring 1990's The Good Son - if only he'd sailed his ships
>around us on this great island! - and the 1986 covers album Kicking
>Against the Pricks). And for long time fans, he treated us to a
>beautiful and funky, electric rendition of Wild World, my personal
>highlight of the night. (He announced it as a Birthday Party number,
>perhaps suggesting that there were many newly formed Nick fans in the
>crowd.)

A Christian moment is now a given with Nick and the most religious part of the performance came with Christina the Astonishing, my least favourite Nick song. But with the spirituality and belief that oozed through his voice and made his voice different to its sound throughout the rest of the show, it was as if he was delivering a sermon and that made it worthwhile in its own way.

And never has Henry Lee sounded as good as it did last night. You could almost hear that pen-knife squelching the flesh. Though it didn't have all the dark beauty without Polly Harvey.

The only element missing was Blixa. There were screams for Blixa, especially after the beautiful Hallelujah, and enquiries as to where he was to which Nick replied, with a touch of melancholy "He's not here. He's gone away". But the flamboyance of The Dirty Three's Warren Ellis - tearing at the hair on his bow and fondling his fiddle as if it was a guitar - made up for, at least in part, the great loss of Bargeld.

Nick divided his time behind his piano (when all most of the crowd could have seen was his elongated forehead and hairline) and moving on the stage in his walking-on-water, prophet-like way that only a man with his heroin-ravaged body could.

The two most beautiful and soft moments came when his fine fingers were touching the ivory for Sad Waters and The Loom of the Land, two of my favourite Nick songs. The crowd was mesmerized.

And the crowd screamed their dedication and awe and Nick had us begging as he rocked us with classics like Tupelo, Red Right Hand, and Do You Love Me?

And with the 20-year-old From Her to Eternity he satisfied us all for most of us would not have wanted to leave without hearing his masterpiece.

Every song was performed with Nick flawlessness and before singing the first encore song, God is in the House, he asked his audience,at the same time questioning if that's what New York crowds do, to sing along with him. And they did.

Nick and the Seeds said goodbye at the end of their second encore with an edited version of Babe, I'm on Fire, and if he didn't know it already, the screaming crowd let the man know that they too were indeed on fire along with the echidna, the sweet little Goth and even the man from the Daily Mail with that photo.

After this epic closure, the fans knew that the time was nigh for Nick to go home.

The chain-smoker from Warracknabeal had us eating right out of hands. He is the proof that there's no age limit on rockability.

My art hero made my voice hoarse but gave me an experience that has left me with enough cherishable moments to soothe my parched cords, and even the Summer blisters on my heels.

Here's to you, Nick, for my most memorable New York night!


SETLIST

Wonderful life
Red right hand
Henry Lee
Hallelujah
Sad waters
Tupelo
Brind it on
Do you love me?
Still in love
Loom of the land
The mercy seat
Christina the astonishing
From her to eternity
Wild world
*****
God is in the house
Deanna
*****
West country girl
Babe, I'm on fire

 

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