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 Sept. 27, 2016
Driving past, you might not really notice the changes at the Elite Sports Club-River Glen, 2001 W. Good Hope Rd., in Glendale, which was built as Le Club in 1972 and purchased by Elite in 2012. But on the inside, it seems that everything is changing.
Published Sept. 26, 2016
You know the old saying, "it takes a village." Well, that village is what's currently fueling the Milwaukee Public Museum's push to get its vast collections digitized and online. That and some funding from grants, too, of course.
Published Sept. 26, 2016
One of the oldest watering holes in the city, the White House, 2900 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is celebrating its 125th birthday on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2 with drink specials, games, raffles, food and more, as well as a food drive for Hunger Task Force.
Published Sept. 22, 2016
There was a time when removing a building was a dramatic affair: buildings imploded with a boom or were pounded by a wrecking ball. These days, thankfully, there's a growing approach that seeks to keep as much waste out of landfills and reuse and recycle as much material as possible.
Published Sept. 21, 2016
Did you know Milwaukee Public Schools has what might be the largest group of public Montessori schools in the world? Now, led by school board member Tati Joseph, there's a push to add a new South Side dual-language program to that group.
Published Sept. 20, 2016
Even in a neighborhood full of vintage architecture, there's no mistaking it. The Italianate Cream City Brick building at 1704 N. 4th St. looks old. If the area has had a long, varied history (and it has), then Baasen House is perfectly at home here.
Published Sept. 18, 2016
There's no better way to get a peek inside Milwaukee's most interesting - and often most historic - sites, many of them typically off limits to the public, than Historic Milwaukee Inc.'s annual Doors Open Milwaukee event. Here are 10 must-see sites.
Published Sept. 15, 2016
This is Brew City, so it should come as no surprise that we value Milwaukee's beer-soaked history. And Regano's Roman Coin has been a part of that tradition for five decades. In honor of it Regano's is throwing a party and we asked Teri Regano about it.
Published Sept. 13, 2016
Yesterday morning, a group of kindergarteners from Milwaukee Public Schools' Rogers Street Academy visited BMO Harris Bank to judge auditions by local sports mascots for roles in the upcoming production of Milwaukee Ballet's "The Nutcracker."
Published Sept. 12, 2016
This past weekend a Tosa resident staged a huge party at Red Dot on North Avenue in East Tosa with Public Enemy, Run-DMC, Sir-Mix-A-Lot, Rakim, EPMD and others. I was there for the first night of the two-day jam. Here are some images.