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CONCERT REVIEW: Cobden Club, London [06/03/2000] by Leslie Gilotti Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006

In the intimate surroundings of a west London private club, a small crowd forms a semi-circle around a tall suited gentleman who coaxes gentle melodies from a baby grand piano. As he sings the words, "All the hatchets have been buried now, and all of the birds will sing to your beautiful heart...", it's hard to believe that this is the same man who made the Stooges' 'Loose' sound even more lewd and evil than scuzz-king Ig himself. The man is Nick Cave, and the occasion is the launch of his eleventh studio album with the Bad Seeds, 'No More Shall We Part', witnessed by a crowd of 200 press and celebrities, among them Suede and Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode.

Judging from the selection Cave plays during the seven-song set (accompanied only by Dirty Three violinist Warren Ellis), the devotional and cathartic direction from previous album 'The Boatman's Call' continues on 'And No More Shall We Part'. He will no doubt be chastised for this by journalists taking the easy option with the popular "miserable goth" interpretation, but those with ears and any sense will see that Cave's rediscovered the black humour that we know and love him for. We can't help ourselves from whispering '"Are you LOCAL??"' to our companion during his mocking utopian portrait of 'God Is In The House' ("Homos roaming the streets in packs/Queer-bashers with tyre-jacks/Lesbian counter-attacks..our town is very that God is in the house"). He's rediscovered the lighter side of love as well, as displayed both in 'And No More Shall We Part' and new wife Susie Bick, who's brought along their baby twin sons.

Cave's definitely on form tonight as he assumes the storyteller role in this plushly-decorated fireside gathering, intoning eerie tales of crimes of passion ('We Came Along This Road') and - ever-faithful to love's darker side - self-flagellating tales of regret ('Love Letter') which he jokingly encourages the crowd to sing along to. Perhaps maybe another time at a less industry-rich gig (though we do spot a few mobile phones held aloft for the benefit of and the braggage to absent fans).

The songs are beautiful and their delivery riveting but as any great storyteller knows, not only do listeners want to be regaled with tales of the unknown, they also want to hear the bedtime favourites. And we get it in the classic recently covered by Johnny Cash, 'The Mercy Seat' (what, don't you listen to 'Tender Prey' at bedtime?). Tonight's impromptu show isn't a radical departure from more recent Bad Seeds outings, but when it's this good, how could we want it any other way?


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