Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at McFarlin Auditorium: Review, Photos and Setlist

Categories: Last Night

nick-cave-2.jpg
Mike Brooks

A spitting, snarling, unbridled Nick Cave stalked McFarlin Auditorium last night, displaying the same unmatched punk fury he's been doling out since The Birthday Party. Audience members got abused. Cave thrust his crotch everywhere. He sung particularly intense lyrics directly into the faces of people in the front row, leaning down so his face was six inches from theirs, pointing right at them and spitting with fury.

In short, he's right up there amongst the best frontmen of this or any generation. No one on the circuit can both command and terrify a crowd quite like Nick Cave. If you match an incredibly rare chance to see such a showman with one of those infrequent reverent audiences that are there for the music and not as a social, drinking night out (not that that's always a bad thing, obviously, I'm just saying concerts are musically better when people shut up), absolute ear-splitting volume, and periods of such intensity that I felt sure people would start keeling over, you have yourself one of those rare concerts where everything comes together .

See also:
-The Ten Best Nick Cave Songs
-The Five Biggest Sellouts at SXSW

Sure, there were technical hitches. During "Deanna" Cave threw a hissy fit about a microphone issue, there was a lot of unnecessary feedback, complaints from the band about not being able to stay in tune. Perhaps McFarlin wasn't the right place for this gig, and it seemed like the audience agreed, as they rushed the stage two songs in, after a frenetic rendition of recent single "Jubilee Street", a relatively spontaneous display of affection and disregard for the notion of a seated Nick Cave concert, which had seemed odd to me too. The crescendo to that song, far outdoing the recorded version as Cave bashed angrily at a piano before leaping up to flail in the middle of the stage shouting "I'M TRANFORMING! I'M VIBRATING! LOOK AT ME NOW!" set the tone for the majority of the set and transformed an interested audience into a transfixed audience.

At times, the sound levels, intensity, and excellent dramatic lighting (no flashy lights for Cave, just a classic well-lit stage) combined to turn a song that was just bumbling along into something that appeared to be a result of the gates of Hell opening and a whole world of sonic fury tumbling out. "Red Right Hand" in particular contained two 8-bar breakdowns that I thought were going to demolish the venue. Cave high-kicked and thrust his way across the stage, while Warren Ellis, an intriguing presence throughout, arched his back and started walking slowly with giant steps, like some kind of terrifying violin-playing stork.

Ellis is a fantastic addition to the Bad Seeds, and clearly the band leader, necessary since Cave spends most of his time right down the front sneering into people's faces. Even when there was a quiet break for two ballads from No More Shall We Part, the stately "Love Letter" and satirical "God Is In The House", Ellis remained on stage despite only playing violin for one brief solo in the latter track, slouched on a chair, his lengthy beard covering the open neck of his shirt.

In terms of setlist, it was surprising that Cave discarded almost entirely recent album tracks, apart from those two ballads. Aside from the four opening and one closing tracks, taken from new album Push The Sky Away, the rest of the set, delightfully, was mainly Live Seeds-era Cave, including welcome and unexpected ancient favorites like the swirling collection of train noises and brutal imagery that is "Papa Won't Leave You Henry" as well as relative 80s and 90s staples like "Jack The Ripper", "The Weeping Song" and "From Her To Eternity".


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13 comments
Deja DeMoss
Deja DeMoss

I thought it was awesome when he told off that usher who physically forced a man to stop dancing and sit down. Nick Cave then told everyone to do what they want so we all crowded the stage. Best concert worst venue choice.

Fin2
Fin2

Grinderman was ON POINT! Awesome show. Been a big fan for years. I do disagree about the sound. I thought it was great. They're preferring to play in music hall now as their orchestral lineup (and Warren) really do dictate it. The reverberation throughout McFarlin was awesome, rattling and touching. They haven't played together or toured at all much recently with their SXSW pop-up show this week being their first in a long time. You just can't get that kind of sound in a club.

I was worried a bit about the sit-down nature of the place, but 2 songs in and Cave got everyone up, in the aisles and in the walkways. When an usher attempted to remove 2 of the first aisle-dancers, Cave leaned over the stage and swiped at the usher saying "go away!". From there, the audience was up the entire night and flooded the stage. Very raw.

rachael.elward
rachael.elward

For a seated show, those pictures look so immense. 

I have a question for anyone who was there and may know, when Nick Cave told that man to "go away", and we all laughed, who was that man? Was he someone who worked there, and was coming over to tell the girl at the front to sit down, or was he just someone who came to see the show?

joanna
joanna

@Fin2 it wasnt "grinderman" it was nick cave and the bad seeds. there is a difference, just so ya know.

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

@Fin2 Grinderman? Orchestral line-up? There wasn't even the string section of the recent Mexico City/Australia/LA gigs, and they've been touring since mid-Feb. I didn't say the sound was bad, just that Cave had microphone issues and that sometimes there was unnecessary feedback. I thought the overall sound of the show was amazing, although Cave's vocals often drowned out everything else (no doubt something to do with the mic issues).

PlanZero
PlanZero

@rachael.elward He was one of the ushers. I saw him walk up to a guy dancing in the aisle a few minutes before and made the guy return to his seat.

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

@cereboso Oh cool. You're one of the self absorbed idiots who likes to ruin shows for other people by standing there with your phone recording worthless videos with distorted audio?

If you didn't notice-- even Nick made fun of people like you last night. 

Remember: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. 

Fin2
Fin2

@GavinCleaver @Fin2 F me, shows how much I know. I thought the Aussie gigs were still to come! He got feedback on stage left with the mic all night. Pretty funny, he'd jerk back like he'd been shot!

I do think they had Cave's vox up a bit too high as well, at times. I didn't get that last time I saw them. But it was also in a much different venue, it was a large flat warehouse type thing.

rachael.elward
rachael.elward

@PlanZero @rachael.elward Oh that's good. I felt bad for him, like maybe he just wanted to get involved but Nick Cave made him feel bad. I feel better that he was an usher just telling people to sit. :) 

Fin2
Fin2

@PlanZero @rachael.elward Initially it was a girl and a guy, seemingly not together dancing and already under Cave's spell. I do believe the girl was a "bride" of sorts to be an offering to the Ginderman. She had on a white dress, a tiara/veil kind of thing and the bouquet of flowers. Someone may be able to correct me if it was actually a birthday girl. But she looked pretty rather to give her life up to Cave, as we all were.

sam1999
sam1999

@cantkeepthetruthdown  

What a smart mouth. The guy/girl was low and didn't impact anyone's view. Not as bad as tall and big guys moving all around in the first few rows. Plus I get to see it again so thanks cereboso.

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