When Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds took the stage Friday night at the Milwaukee Theatre, it was only Cave's second appearance in Milwaukee -- the first came during a Lollapalooza performance at the Marcus Amphitheater in 1994 -- and the band's headlining debut here.
So, as you can imagine, devotees of Cave -- whose records as far back with the ones made by his band The Birthday Party have inspired deep allegiance -- were more than ready for this long-overdue return.
Although staged at the 4,000-seat Milwaukee Theatre, the performance -- like last year's Leonard Cohen concert and earlier shows by Yanni and Barry Manilow at the same venue -- was booked by Peter Jest's Alternative Concert Group. Earlier in the week Jest told the Business Journal he expected a crowd of about 3,000 and that seems a roughly accurate prediction.
Cave's current tour -- which launched with a gig last weekend at Bonaroo -- is in support of last year's "Push the Sky Away" and the set -- which, including the four-song encore -- ran about two hours -- was a mix of material from that record as well from across Cave's years with the Bad Seeds, which began in 1983.
Of course the focus was on the new record, from which the band pulled the title track, "We Real Cool," We No Who U R," "Mermaids," "Higgs Boson Blues" and the dynamic "Jubilee Street." Though the song was the second of the night, it had the kind of musical drama that most acts would save for a concert closer.
Cave also played early numbers, like 1985's "Tupelo," as well as songs from 1990's "The Good Son," and '97's "The Boatman's Call," among others.
These days, the Seeds are a talented mix of veterans with long associations with Cave. Former Magazine bassist Barry Adamson plays keyboards while ex-Triffid Martin Casey -- who has been with Cave since 1990 -- is on bass. Multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis and veteran drummer Jim Sclavunas (Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Sonic Youth, The Cramps), who have both worked with Cave since the 1990s --rounded out the group, along with guitarist George Vjestica and keyboard player Conway Savage.
On the sole occasion that I previously saw Cave perform, he was onstage with The Birthday Party at The Ritz in New York City, opening for Britain's Au Pairs in 1981. Cave was in rough shape back then and the gig marked perhaps the only time I thought the band onstage might actually present a threat to the safety of the audience.
In the end, the band -- Cave bloodied from wild antics that culminated with him putting his head through a drum skin -- was compelled to quit for the night and the venue cancelled a second performance scheduled for the same week.
Cave has matured over the years and I expected nothing of the sort Friday night. In fact, in the intervening 33 years, Cave has morphed into an at times introspective, thoughtful, respected songwriter, film composer, novelist and performer, though one that still hoes a dark, gothic row.
Though his passion and flair for drama exhibit themselves in less outwardly disturbing ways in 2014, Cave still gets down into the crowd and puts on a powerful, at times positively incendiary, show. High tensile performances like those of "Stagger Lee" and "From Her To Eternity" were as gloriously cacophonous and intense Friday night as anything The Birthday Party ever notched.
With its mix of aural chiaroscuro, the show was exactly the kind of dynamic blast that kind folks will remember for a good long while.
Opening the show was L.A. female rock quartet Warpaint, which played a 30-minute, five-song set built on the kind of grooves and heavy bass lines, intersected with jagged guitar blasts, pioneered by The Slits.
The songs were good but were rendered a bit samey by a muddy mix.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds set list:
We No Who U R
Red Right Hand
The Weeping Song
From Her to Eternity
West Country Girl
Into My Arms
People Ain't No Good
Higgs Boson Blues
The Mercy Seat
Push the Sky Away
We Real Cool
The Lyre of Orpheus
Papa Won't Leave You, Henry
The Ship Song
Mr. Mequon | June 21, 2014 at 11:25 a.m. (report)
Okay as a 32 yr old male, I have never heard of Nick Cave? who in the world is that! I am a big music fan and I have never heard of this guy. Apparently he has been around forever since he is 57 and has a large Discography.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Dec. 1, 2016
There was a time when Milwaukee had venues that hosted jazz gigs all the time. One of them, The Jazz Gallery, is catalogued in a new book by the club's owner Chuck LaPaglia. Get a peek at this great bit of Milwaukee music history at an event Friday, Dec. 2.
Published Dec. 1, 2016
The popularity of Facebook groups like "Old Milwaukee" and OnMilwaukee's own urban spelunking series shows that Milwaukeeans have a passion for their city and its history. Indulge that passion with a gift rooted in our collective story. Here are a few ideas.
Published Nov. 29, 2016
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the beautiful Victorian Gothic Judge Jason Downer Mansion, 1201 N. Prospect Ave., is now something of a temple to art history, serving as the headquarters of the Milwaukee Art Museum's library. We go inside for a peek.
Published Nov. 29, 2016
Today is Giving Tuesday and thus I'm re-sharing this post from December 2013 about how you can use Donors Choose to help out a local public school.
Published Nov. 28, 2016
The MPS Foundation gets a public reboot today when the foundation - which since 1998 has raised funds, beyond taxes, from the community in support of Milwaukee Public Schools - hosts its annual meeting at the Riverside Theater Downtown from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Published Nov. 23, 2016
As I prepare to pack up my stuff and head out to spend Thanksgiving with my family, I'd like to take a moment to express my gratitude for the folks who work hard every day to educate Milwaukee's children, and give a special shout out to City Year MKE.
Published Nov. 22, 2016
There are countless Milwaukeeans who have left an indelible mark on the city, even though folks rarely utter their names. One of them is Sebastian Brand, a German immigrant firefighter and mason turned architect, who designed many firehouses. Meet him here.
Published Nov. 21, 2016
Frozen custard is best enjoyed at the stand where you bought it just moments ago. But for folks who live outside Milwaukee and want to be able to bring some of this delectable treat home after a visit, transporting custard can be a challenge. Worry no more. Kopp's has come up with a solution.
Published Nov. 18, 2016
Bay View's first hotel - the dog-friendly microhotel in the former Down and Under Pub building at 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.- is slated to open in January. Co-owner Charles Bailey invited us in yesterday to take a first look.
Published Nov. 18, 2016
Now that colder weather is approaching, Granny Hannah has left her familiar rocking chair perch on her Streets of Old Milwaukee porch for the warmth of her parlor. But a couple days ago Hannah invited me in to see the tree and to talk about the holidays.