First published in Mojo in March 2013.THERE was no “10-ton catastrophe” at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl last night.
From the opening notes of ‘We No Who U R’ from their new album ‘Push The Sky Away’, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds had an enthralled audience screaming for more. Two hours and two encores later, thousands basked sated in the collective afterglow of the magnificent performance wrought by the dark master of Australian music.
Flanked by the children’s choir from Gardenvale Primary School and the string section of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds worked through the catalogue of songs from their new album. Subdued yet captivating lyrics and performance coupled with consummative lighting transformed to enhance the ethereal experience of the evening.
“This, is one I wrote for my wife Susan” Cave said as he introduced ‘Wide Lovely Eyes’, the second song from this album and second on the set list.
“Sing your little hearts out,” Cave willed the kids on ‘Jubilee Street’. And they did.
Cave, with Warren Ellis playing violin and a multitude of instruments throughout the night, conducted the orchestra and band in frantic displays of energy. Both men summoned crescendos of passionate vigour and quiet moodiness in equal measure, the performance interspersed with Cave madly dashing around the stage like a berserk Gothic prince sending song lists and microphone stands flying. The audience swooned.
At the first sounds of ‘From Her to Eternity’ from their debut 1984 album, what started as a handful of people became an unstoppable swell of fans as they surged down the aisles to the stage in an adoring mosh.
Cave praised the orchestra’s spirit and vigour before launching into ‘Red Right Hand’ followed by hits from early albums. When ‘The Ship Song’ played, the audience joined, harmonising with the angelic voices of the children’s choir to create one of the more haunting experiences of the night.
Conway Savage, Martyn P. Casey, Thomas Wydler, Ed Kuepper and Jim Sclavunos matched Cave’s intensity, while Ellis descended into madness at right of stage, his back to the audience and bent over the violin for ‘Tupelo’.
After selling out all shows in Sydney, the decision by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to collaborate with the MSO was a fitting and poignant end to their only Melbourne show before moving north for their final Australian performance in Brisbane on March 8.