Sunday, September 21, 2008

Seen Heard and Overheard - Nick Cave SF 9-19 & 20, 2008

T-Shirt seen in line outside: Praise Seitan with a fork pentagram!

T-Shirt: I'm A Legend In Japan

Night 2 Tees:-Jethro Tull 2007 tour

-Depeche Mode Touring The Angel

-Motorhead (front)/Everything Louder Than Everything Else (back)

-Whalecock Skateboard Co.
(check out this website, it's hilarious)
Overheard Phrase - re: Warren Ellis - "Old Timey Hot" (see below)
Favorite lyric - Bukowski Was A Jerk!

So Rob, Shannon and I went to see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Friday and Saturday night at The newly re-opened Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. I have seen many many bands at the Warfield since back in the day (remember when it used to have fixed seats on the floor? I saw many "new wave" shows in those seats), and was saddened by it's closing, but am glad that not much has physically changed with it's re-opening. It is now run by AEG & Goldenvoice Events, and as far as music venue conglomerates go, I am GLAD of this! They are NOT Live Nation, and seem to be well-run, artist-respectful venues. The security is local conglom NES and they have stepped up the line-policing outside (for which I am grateful...No panhandling!!), but other than that there are just a few changes: new carpet, a bunch of framed Warfield posters from past shows (a la how it's always been at The Fillmore), bars on both sides of floor in slightly different positions. Both nights, we were against the rail just off of the floor against the stage, putting us eye level and relatively close to the stage. Night 1 we were on Mick's side stage right (audience left), Night 2 we were on Warren's side stage left (audience right). The bottom line is, the newness wasn't distracting. Not that ANYTHING could distract me from Nick! By Way of posterity, here are the setlists:

Night 1: Night Of The Lotus Eaters, Dig Lazarus Dig, Tupelo, Today's Lesson, Red Right Hand, Let Love In, Midnight Man, Mercy Seat, Moonlands, Deanna, Ship Song, We Call Upon The Author, Papa Won't Leave You Henry, More News From Nowhere Encore: Oh Mama, Into My Arms, Get Ready For Love, Hard On For Love, God Is In The House, Stagger Lee

Night 2: Night Of The Lotus Eaters, Dig Lazarus Dig, Tupelo, Today's Lesson, Weeping Song, Nobody's Baby Now, Midnight Man, Mercy Seat, Deanna, Moonlands, Ship Song, We Call Upon The Author, Papa Won't Leave You Henry, More News From Nowhere Encore: Love Letter, Get Ready For Love, Hard On For Love, Jesus Of The Moon, Stagger Lee

Robbie is a huge huge Nick fan for the past 25 years or so, and he got me in to Nick when we were dating. Considering that Saturday night was our 22nd Wedding Anniversary, that's a long time. What a way to celebrate by worshipping at the Nick altar! For the uninitiated, Nick is difficult to describe. I guess I'll try: He's a 50 year-old (He'll be 51 on the 22nd) Australian former heroin addict who has always worn suits, gives off the aura of a fire and brimstone preacher with all the intensity that entails, and is a true artist in all aspects of the word. He writes music, sings, has acted, written screenplays (The Propostion is his recent film), scores films (he recently did The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford), writes prose and novels. Here's the Wiki if you want to know more in detail; my impression of Nick is that he is as charasmatic and passionate as Johnny Cash, but if Johnny was in league with Satan. He's skilled at interpreting the darkness in life without romancing evil; he seems like he's an old soul who has seen the big picture and acknowledges the importance of darkness and light in the world. When Nick performs music live, his whole being gives over to the story telling, and the stories are about sex, love, perversion, death... he can be whisper-quiet, abrasively loud, tender, primal screamy...the dynamics are amazing and compelling. He comes to the front of the stage and kneels down and preaches, wails,'s rare to experience a performer who gets truly lost yet remains so connected. He's blues in the tradition of Leadbelly, but the music is balls out -more rock-like, but not rock. Funky, soulful, hard Like I said, difficult to "label". When Nick is with The Bad Seeds, it's the most amazing experience. He attracts a suit-wearing crowd as we T-Shirt wearers.

The Bad Seeds consists of (besides Nick on Vocals, Guitar, Organ): Mick Harvey – Guitar, Organ Warren Ellis – Mandocaster, Violin, Tenor Guitar Conway Savage – Piano Martyn P. Casey – Bass Thomas Wydler – Drums, Percussion Jim Sclavunos – Drums, Percussion

Fellow Aussie Mick has been with Nick since the Birthday Party days in the late 70's. Conway has been on board since 1990, the classic Nick period beginning with Henry's Dream. Thomas and Martyn have also been around since the early 90's. Jim has been on board since '96. Warren is another Australian, famously of the Dirty Three who is now a truly Bad Seed. I'm not trying to give a history here; I only mention the longevity of the relationships to impress the fact that the band is as tight as a damned drum! Their longtime mutual connections and impressive versatility overwhelm me considering these were just the 3rd and 4th dates on the US Tour! The versatility of each musician amazes. The Particularly fun to watch, version 1: Conway, who looks like a dandyesque version of Bob Geldof, clad in a dark, vested suit with tie. He can make playing an egg shaker the most intense experience. Conway mainly plays keys, and beautifully, but since there isn't a lot of key work on the new songs from "Dig Lazarus Dig!" (he did handclaps and shaker percussion on the album!), he spent the those songs having maraca and shaker competitions with Warren and Thomas. He'd look up at the balcony, focus intensely, flip someone off, look elsewhere... he has a creepily direct gaze, ghoulish and playful at the same time. Saturday Warren was playing the maracas on something, and Conway had his as well; he saw that Warren was playing them and tossed his down angrily, picking up an egg shaker and catching Warren's eye, shaking it at him.

Warren was also a joy to watch. Warren looks like he stepped out of 1849; he resembles one of the Smith Brothers (you know, the cough drops) with a looooooong bushy beard, long hair and intense gaze. I think intensity is a requirement when one runs with Nick.

>>>Old Timey Hot Warren Ellis<<<

As well as being a classically-trained violinist, (which fascinated because at times he played it like a guitar, and has so many effects on it for some songs it sounds like a freakin' keyboard), Warren also plays the very unique Mandocaster which is a really an electric Mandolin. He also picked up a flute, and during Call Upon The Author he just crouched down on the floor and played effects only....he would roll back and forth on his curved back like some sort of Pilates move, flail about, twiddle knobs. From the get go, you're kind of forced to watch Warren; his skill and unique performance style compelled. Saturday night when we were on his side, Shannon commented early on, saying "my man right there is hot!", and I interjected "Old Timey Hot" which made us laugh profusely considering Warren's "Gold Rush prospector just came down from the mountains" looks. Every once in a while, we'd watch him, look at one another and laugh. He took a swig of water from a glass bottle, and Shan said "What's he drinking there?" I replied "Must be moonshine." "I don't see the "XXX" on the front." During a song where he was playing the violin, I turned and said "he musta learnt to fiddle like that out on the prairie." He was playing the chicken drum, and I think Shan said something about "that musta been from rustlin' out on the ranch." We were tickled. Anyway, Old Timey Hot is now in our permanent lexicon.

Prior to these shows, Rob had been nursing a stiff and sore lower back for days. He's been popping Tylenol every 4 hours, and we weren't relishing the normal blessing of General Admission standing tickets due to the acheage and painage of it all. After Friday night, the Power of Nick healed him for a time...The Power of Nick compels you! The stiffness moved to upper back, and by Saturday night was pretty well gone. Nick to Rob is like Pearl Jam to me; that my honey would be losing himself in the music regardless of physical pain was a non-issue.

What a fantastic way to celebrate our marriage, by seeing an artist critical to our lives together!

Lest I forget, opening act Red Sparowes were AMAZING! They are a mostly instrumental band who are reminiscent of Pink Floyd, The Cure, kind of emo-ey and very textural. 3 guitars, bass and drums. They had cool films (Chinese Mao-ist marches, jellyfish, beetles on a skull, flickering lights amongst them) that coordinated with the music. Coolness.

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