The day before the Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds show at the Forum in Los Angeles, I received a text from my pal, Johnny Firecloud. “You wanna go see Nick Cave Tomorrow?” I called him immediately assuming we’d be going together. He ended up offering me his photo-pass and +1 since he’s still in recovery from a motorcycle accident and wasn’t going to make it to this one. At first I was a little nervous, and neither of us had seen Nick but since he so generously offered me his passes I felt it was only right that I accept his offer, and even offer to cover the show in his absence.
I headed to the show, plus one in tow – where I was met by another friend, ex-Reignwolf bassist, David “Stitch” Rapaport. I also noticed Flea was in the house, along with Josh Homme & wife Brody Dalle, all dressed to the nines. In fact, most of the people at this show were dressed up for this one! I felt under-dressed.
On with the show.
Nick’s set time was 8:30, and he and the band were in full goth mode by 8:40 with “Jesus Alone.” I had no idea what I was in for but since I love some 80’s new wave and goth, this show had started off perfectly. I notice that pretty much everyone in attendance was full on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds devotee. I’d never heard so many women and men yell out “Marry me” to the same person. Nick Cave has that special something, and it was obvious beyond the proposals. He was jumping around like a 20 year old, just like the Nick Cave I had seen on magazine covers over so many years. He had crazy energy and effortlessly flowed around the entire stage, sometimes playing piano, engaging with the fans and his band. He really did make the stage look small.
There were moments that Cave was in the crowd, like swimming through a sea of sweaty lovers, all trying to touch him or feel his essence as he somehow gracefully swam by. He’d make his way into the crowd and find objects to stand on, while engaging the crowd to sing along. At one point when he was heading back to the stage, he managed to bring about 20 people up with him. Of course everyone had their cell phones out to capture every moment, and of course any moment with Nick Cave is gonna be Instagram-worthy. Finally the camera thing started getting a little gross and Nick shouted into the mic playfully, “Put those fucking cameras away.” He said it in a way that was fun, but it was also an order that everyone took note of, and respected what he was trying to say without saying it: “I love you, let’s spend this moment together.”
Nick managed to have the stage-bound fans all sit down. He took a couple people by the hand and brought them to the front of the stage to sing, each of them knowing every word, of course. He eventually sent the fans back into the crowd, just before the encore. Trust was a strong currency of crowd interaction – Nick would have people in the front row hold his microphone while he clapped, or floated around.
Bearded multi-istrumentalist Warren Ellis was a huge part of the show, playing violin, guitar, flute and piano. He looked totally out of control the whole time, but he played perfectly…..out of control. He’s a full on performance in his own right. Nick is the sexy frontman with all the dangerous moves who seems to be in full command, as Warren is the counterbalance, trying to tear the whole thing apart. It’s really beautiful.
Nick Cave isn’t overrated. I feel lame for ignoring all of my friends who have told me how great he was over the years. I had so many sub par albums on repeat, when I could have been exploring the vast catalog of Nick Cave, amongst others…..but now Nick Cave is definitely on that listening list. I have some albums to buy, a damn good sign that I’ve been to a cathartic, magical show. And if you haven’t seen a Nick Cave show, you need to go.
Nick Cave at The Forum, 10.21.18:
Higgs Boson Blues
Do You Love Me
From Her to Eternity
Red Right Hand
The Ship Song
Into My Arms
Shoot Me Down
Girl in Amber
The Weeping Song
Push the Sky Away
City of Refuge
Rings of Saturn
Photos: Mark Maryanovich