A dark, damp night at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow was lit up by an astounding performance from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
I wasn’t too familiar with Nick Cave’s vast back catalogue – I knew a few that I liked, and he’s been playing them fairly regular on this tour run – so I kind of went in blind to this. Coming out? I see the light! This easily slots into the top 5 gigs I’ve seen in my life.
Nick Cave himself is part demon, part messiah, it seems. The trademark suit never seemed to stop all night, as he prowled the stage, looking for souls to condemn or save, often in the same line of the song. The delivery was effortless, never missing a note all night, even during his sojourns from the stage into the adoring crowd in front of him.
The Hydro can be a bit cavernous, but the sheer force of nature that are The Bad Seeds filled every inch with power, purpose and poise. The sheer rumbling during the cacophonous moments in the show threatened to take the seats from their moorings, but the glorious chaos always had meaning, and never diminished the beauty of the songs.
And the songs, oh the songs. Higgs Boson Blues, Jubilee Street, Into My Arms and Red Right Hand were highlights of a stacked set, but all of them were blown away in the encore by an incendiary Stagger Lee that saw Cave invite a flood of punters onto his stage… and then promptly vacate it to sing from whence they came.
Cave himself was incredible; you don’t just watch Nick Cave perform, you experience it. There were a few light hearted moments – during one intense moment, someone was carried from the crowd and after checking on her health, he quipped “she’s either not right or she’s reeeeeeally right” and carried on where he left off.
Cave’s stage presence is something I wasn’t really expecting. With the stage lighting minimal at most times, Cave slipped in and out of the darkness, a place you get the feeling he was truly at home – his frame casting giant shadows on the back wall that at times felt like something from an old school Universal black and white monster movie, and it totally matched the sinister vibes being laid down on the stage.
After finally returning to reclaim his stage, Cave completed the set closer Push The Sky Away, bade us farewell and sent us on our merry way, our heads full of murderous intentions and tortured tales spun from the mind of one of the most incredible performers I’ve ever seen… an absolutely storming set and a genuine highlight of my year.