Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Hammersmith Apollo, London April 2008
Only once have I ever passed up the chance to see Cave & The Seeds – and I will forever kick myself for not taking it. They are a musical touchstone, a high water mark, a must see for newbies and for long tome fans… because you have to see each album or incarnation live. Before this tour Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! was released, and after the big band, gospel efforts of Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus it marked a return to a tighter band format for the Bad Seeds. It was also on the tail of the band’s core members (especially driven by Cave and Warren Ellis) veering off into the dirty, graunchy sludge rock of Grinderman which definitely unleashed the beast a little. That was the album that I think Ellis joked he learnt the guitar on. So, they came back as the Bad Seeds for Lazarus and unleashed a fucking awesome live set at the Apollo that night, in front of a huge illuminated DIG!!! LAZARUS DIG!!! sign. Decked out, dapper, Saville Row’d Cave had swagger tonight. The posturing, the feet on the monitor, even playing guitar at one stage. And songs? You want songs?: ‘Deanna’, ‘The Ship Song’, ‘Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry’, ‘Get Ready for Love’, ‘Tupelo"’, ‘Into My Arms’ were all there, all epic. But against these rubbed Dig, Lazarus, Dig’s material brilliantly. its title track, ‘Today’s Lesson’, ‘Moonland’, ‘Night of The Lotus Eaters’, ‘Midnight Man’… all with the customary and dazzling Bad Seeds creepy keys and loping rhythms. Stunning. The Bad Seeds remain one of the best ‘bands’ in the world, and yet they seemed completely rejuvenated by the Grinderman thing (who were co-existing, and we were seeing them in a few weeks). Stand out track for me, on the record, and from the show, is ‘We Call Upon The Author’. A song that Cave introduced halfway through the show as “…being worth the price of admission all on it’s own”. And it was.