Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Friday, September 26, 2008 Ogden Theatre Better than: Anything that has ever come out of Australia.
Nick Cave handily disproved the notion that rock and roll is a young man’s game this past Friday night at the Ogden Theatre. Taking the stage backed by the Bad Seeds – seven strong this time around -- the 51-year-old looked muscled and rabid as he kicked off his set with a couple of songs from his latest effort Dig Lazarus Dig.
Adapting some of the themes from Lazarus, Cave had his Jesus-by-way-of-Jim-Morrison swagger going from the get go. With the backbeat being filled out by two, sometimes three drummers (Thomas Wydler, Jim Sclavunos and long time Cave collaborator Mick Harvey), the band had a pulsing urgency that complimented Cave’s take no prisoner’s agenda. Adding to the visual was longtime Seed Warren Ellis (late of the Dirty Three) who looked like a Charlie Manson clone, and played the violin like he had designs on electroshocking the sold out crowd.
With shouts of “Birthday Party” and “Red Right Hand” coming from the audience, Cave wasn’t above blasting the hits (though he skipped the Birthday Party stuff completely), but, for the most part throughout the set, he avoided making revisionist history in favor of sticking with newer material as well as songs from his side project, Grinderman. All the same, it was amazing to watch him skulking around the stage, pulling away at a beaten guitar or sitting down for a mournful piano ballad.
Anyone who questions the viability of music made by artists who’ve outlived whatever supposed expiration date has been assigned to them, hasn’t paid close enough attention to Cave’s output. Sure, there’s been others who've hung on as long as him – the members of Sonic Youth are all in their 50s and can rock a stage, but their music hasn’t really gone anywhere; and Iggy Pop (probably one of Cave’s biggest influences), pushing sixty himself, destroyed the Fillmore last year, but hasn’t made a good record in over thirty years -- few have made artistic strides as interesting as Cave, who has continued to make mangled, compelling art, without ever stopping to consider the commercial implications.
Full round renaissance man, ladies man and death merchant, Nick Cave has never gotten old and probably never will.
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Personal Bias: C’mon Nick, you can’t play one Birthday Party song? Just one? Random Detail: There was a couple standing in front of us fighting, loudly, and dramatically. The Dude finally got tired of his lady screaming and moved behind us. Strangely, he only cheered when Cave played the Murder Ballads material.