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CONCERT REVIEW: State Theatre, Sydney [11/01/2000] by Pat Breen Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

Unlike previous Nick performances at The State Theatre, this was a sitting affair (no fans standing at the front). Also, don't go to this expecting a Bad Seeds performance, because if you do you are going to be very disappointed. Nick plays piano, and is supported by a violin, bass and drums (no guitar at all!) - and those playing instruments are very much in the background. Even Warren Ellis who is normally such a notable character at Bad Seeds and Dirty Three performances was fairly low key.

This, to me, really contrasts against normal Bad Seeds performances
where Mick Harvey and Blixa (amongst others) are so obviously in the
foreground. It's also strange to see Nick tied down to the piano, and
not running about madly gesturing to the crowd.

Much of the time the songs barely resemble the Bad Seeds versions - it's
noteworthy in my mind that these guys aren't trying to fill in for
the Bad Seeds; the arrangements much of the time are completely

Set List:

1. West Country Girl - Before the singing started Nick was playing some
piano very similar to "Knocking On Joe". The other musicians didn't
join Nick on stage until the next song.

2. Sad Waters - Very different without guitar.. Warren seemed to be
struggling getting his violin ready to go, and Nick ribbed him ("it's in

3. People Aint No Good

4. Mercy Seat - Excellent - very intense.

5. Henry Lee - Nick sang both parts.

6. Do You Love Me Part II - Nick lit a cigarette at this point, and Warren traded his violin for an accordian.

7. Wild World - Good, but really different. No heavy bass line like
when the Birthday Party played it, and Nick's piano playing and Warren's
violin plucking were used to compensate for a lack of guitar. Given
the intimate atmosphere, it was strange to hear Nick doing the
"aw haw haw HEY" part of the song. I think Nick could have definitely
pulled off Deep In The Woods or Jennifer's Veil in a similar fashion.

8. Papa Won't Leave You Henry - Announced it with something like
"This is something I wrote for my son - about 8 years ago. I literally
wrote it over the crib". Much slower, and played totally as a solo
act. Without wanting to sound callous, it started to get a little
tedious towards the end.

9. Love Letter - The first time I had ever heard this song. The "go
get her" part of the lyrics sounds a little forced to me, but I thought
the song was actually quite good, and perhaps one of the most suited
to Nick Cave as a solo performer.

10. Straight To You - Nick started to play, but forgot the first line
(and asked for a prompt from the audience). After someone yelling out
the words, he restarted the song. I wasn't enamored by Ellis playing
the triangle in this song.

11. Stagger Lee - winner of the weirdest song I heard for the night.
I think he introduced it saying something like "This song is about one
bad dude. The baddest to ever live." I'm not sure it's even worth
comparing it to the original (it was so different), but I laughed a bit
and enjoyed it thoroughly.

12. Brompton Oratory - without the Casio!

13. Into My Arms - a few minor changes to the lyrics, and Warren Ellis
playing accordian.

At this point Nick said "thanks and goodnight" and shuffled off stage
rather quickly. I was thinking to myself that even with an oncoming
encore that the set seemed pretty short.

Encore 1:

There was quite an exchange between Nick and the audience when he
finally came back on. Nick said something like "you guys are pretty
quiet tonight. Usually there are people screaming shit and throwing things."
Someone in the audience said "welcome home" to which Nick replied
"Well.. sorta". There were a few other things said, but memory fails

14. Loom of the Land - I had mixed feelings about this. It's one of
my favourite songs, and I enjoyed it, but I felt like Nick was holding
back a little for the first chorus or two.

15. The Ship Song - Nick played about a dozen bars including some
singing and then stopped. Someone yelled out something like "you need to learn the words!" to which Nick replied "No - I don't know the chords". He
started playing, singing a short intro about "an orphan on God's
highway" before he restarted the song (from the beginning).

Encore 2:

16. Little Empty Boat - Played solo. This was actually really well
done - almost a stand-up routine that got a lot of laughs from the

That was it - about an hour and forty minutes long. Despite a little
bit of fumbling Nick generally played really well. It's obvious his piano
and vocals have improved a lot in recent years.

The question I'm yearning an answer for is whether Nick and the Bad
Seeds will tour again - because while I enjoyed the performance I still miss
the cast of thousands.


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