Among the many subjects that anw and I disagree on, we find music. I don’t just mean we like different styles of music, or different artists, you understand. I mean, there are some artists we both like. Joni Mitchell. The Tiger Lillies. Others. No, one of the things we disagree about is volume. Andrew has said, on more than on occaision, that he doesn’t enjoy loud music. Doesn’t see why it needs to be loud that “I can hear that comfortably”. (I approximate his views. I’m sure he’ll tell me if I’m wrong.)
I on, the other hand, believe that there is an awful lot of music out there that is meant to be played Extremely Loudly. That playing it at comfortable volumes does not show it off to best effect.
Case in point: Tonight. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Brixton Academy.
I had worried that Cave had forgotten how to be Loud. The Boatman’s Call, No More Shall We Part, Nocturama – these albums are not Loud Music. Good, yes. But not Loud. Well, OK, bits of Nocturama are Loud, but a) it’s just not that good compared to the sublime stuff in The Boatman’s Call, and b) when I saw the Nocturama tour, he did not play the Loud Bits. Or much of anything Loud. It was a bit shit, really.
Abattoir Blues and The Lyre of Orpheus sounded like they had promise, but so, like I say, did bits of Nocturama. I need not have worried. Nick Cave has not forgotten how to be Loud. From the opening drumbeat strut of “Abattoir Blues” itself (and I’d just like to say how much I love that title, and the writing in that song itself) to the crashing joy in “My Beautiful World”, and the bitter shriek of “Hiding All Away” (good on record – a return to a much earlier of Cave’s oeuvre, live), this was a Loud night. Oh, there were breaks, here and there – “Babe, You Turn Me On” and “Easy Money”, and a couple of others, but mostly, this, like all the other reviews I’ve seen have said, a return to form.
(While I’m thinking of it, “Babe, You Turn Me On” is a good example of why I like many of Cave’s lovesongs, by the way – they’re a celebration of love without being saccharine or romantic. They’re direct, and accurate about what being in love can be like, inculding the physical. There aren’t enough lovesongs like his.)
And the slight re-workings of his older stuff to take advantage of the gospel singers (who certainly give the impression of having the time of their lives with Cave’s material, by the way – there was one in particular that was really getting into it, which was nice – a gig’s always better if it looks like the band are enjoying themselves up there) are also fucking brilliant. “Deanna” and “Stagger Lee” were particular stand-outs.
And they came back for a second encore, and we got to leave to the tortured howl of “The Mercy Seat” that way it should be done, rather than the limp-wristed sub-Cash effort that we got on the Nocturama tour.
I wonder if I can get hold of a ticket for Friday…