The venue is looking fantastic, the crowds are streaming in, I take my seat on the first tier of the newly refurbished Hammersmith Apollo and eagerly await what I have been assured would be quite a show. My knowledge of Nick Cave extended to his name, prior to yesterday I don’t think I had heard a single one of his songs, but was assured via twitter by fans that this was no problem and that the show itself would be enough.
Well, that was an understatement.
The support act, who took centre stage alone but for a spotlight and a harmonium, was unexpected, impressive and entirely unique; I cannot remember the last time I heard such a powerful and menacing voice fill such a large space from such a tiny person. After some digging I learnt she was a musician from New York called Shilpa Ray, who had been part of an American rock band called Shilpa Ray & The Happy Hookers; but her role as support for Nick Cave featured just her and her alone, belting songs off her hilariously titled EP It’s All Self-Fellatio. Sold.
The Bad Seeds strut on stage bang on 9pm (I am always fond of efficiency) – followed by the enigmatic Nick Cave; clad all in a black and showing just the right amount of chest. He kicks off with We No Who U R, the opening track off the Bad Seeds newest record Push The Sky Away – a subdued and haunting opener in contrast to Jubilee Street, which already see’s Cave chuck his mic across the stage in rock n’ roll anguish. We’re only 10 minutes in.
Mr. Cave is an impressive man to behold; tall, incredibly slim, and could be aged anywhere between thirty and sixty. He saunters around the stage, clutching at the outstretched hands of the adoring front row. He reminds me of a cross between Mick Jagger and Jack Skellington. His voice is bigger than he is, strong and magnetic. He effortlessly switches between the atmospheric God Is In My House and Into My Arms, through to the ramped up, amped up fan favourites Mercy Seat and Stagger Lee.
Cave is impressive, yes, but it would be unfair not to mention The Bad Seeds – specifically Warren Ellis, who looks like he’s wandered of the streets of Hammersmith, picked up a violin and started thrashing around on stage. It’s fascinating to behold, and he is without a doubt a highlight of the whole show.
The night ends with the albums title track Push The Sky Away and We Real Cool, which in my opinion were some of the of the best moments of the evening; the combination of ethereal lighting, eerie silence from the crowd and Nick’s intense and haunting vocals end the show on a calm and thoughtful note, before they finally all wave goodbye and leave the stage in the last of three sold out nights at the Apollo.
Why I have never really come across Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in my day to day musical life, I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps his music had never appealed to me before, but seeing him live was an experience I am not likely to forget in a hurry. Push The Sky Away is both classy in places, and mucky in others, the way good rock and roll music should be, and I am glad I got a chance to experience that unfold before my eyes last night at the Apollo.