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Review: Craig Eriksson Photos: Jason Rosewarne

Whether you love or hate Nick Cave’s music, it is undeniably unique due to his creativity and lyricism which is beautiful, pure, deep and truly amazing.

Last night at the Plenary, through song we were launched out into the stratosphere on an emotional rollercoaster, a journey of life, despair, love, sorrow, heartache and joy. It was such a sentimental evening and in which you could genuinely feel Nick’s pain, heartbreak, loss and sorrow, yet love for life and passion for storytelling.

There is something very special about seeing someone perform in their hometown. Nick Cave was born in 1957 in Warracknabeal, Victoria and spent his youth growing up in Wangaratta.

Growing up, Nick knew he wanted to perform music and tried out in the local choir but had no success due to his unusual voice. As Nick got older, he knew that he was different and compared to other musicians in Melbourne, he was a less than capable singer and not very strong on any particular instrument either.

Thankfully, Nick had strong self-belief and knew that he was talented. Being self-aware of his shortcomings, Nick says his formula of success was repetition and practice with a strong desire to achieve his goal of world domination as a musician.

I think we can all say he has certainly lived out and achieved his goal in his remarkable 50-year career with The Boys Next Door, The Birthday Party, Grinderman, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and other collaborations.

Nick’s early influences were gospel-inspired 50’s rock and R&B by artists such as – Screamin Jay Hawkins & Elvis. He also loved bands like The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, Alice Cooper and The Saints. Nick’s enigmatic and striking persona, deep baritone voice and songs are far from ordinary and are like no other. You instantly identify his music as there is no one else that sounds remotely like him.

He instantly captivated his audience last night from the minute he casually walked out onto the stark stage and started playing the grand piano.

Nick opened with the powerful Girl in Amber – ‘Some go and some stay behind, some never move at all’. A beautiful song that set the mood for the evening.

We were all mesmerised, sitting there frozen in our seats in total awe, listening to Nick’s unique, beautiful, deep baritone voice as he gracefully played his grand piano accompanied by the wonderful Colin Greenwood from Radiohead on bass.

Colin Greenwood takes bass to a whole other level and if you are not familiar with Radiohead, take a listen to the bass lines in their songs – I Might Be Wrong; Where I End and You Begin and Jigsaw Falling Into Place. Colin also contributed on bass on Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds recent 2024 album – Wild God.

Higgs Boson Blues followed and this was one of my favourite songs of the evening. Nick’s songwriting and storytelling is second to none and this song highlighted just how gifted he is.

O Children from the Bad Seeds’ Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus album (and used in the soundtrack of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) was certainly a crowd favourite last night. O Children, lift up your voice, lift up your voice, Children, rejoice, rejoice.

The Plenary concert hall in Melbourne holds 5500 seats and this was a sold out show highlighting just how popular Nick Cave is with his loyal, devoted fan base who resonate so closely with his music.

His well-arranged 2-hour set managed to deliver a memorable show and in between songs, Nick candidly spoke to the crowd, throwing in his dry humour along the way that had the crowd in stitches of laughter.

The lighting and smoke creation on stage was impressive creating a wonderful, haunting, atmospheric mood and ambience.

Other favourite songs throughout the evening were Into My Arms which the crowd sang along to, which was sublime, The Ship Song, Push The Sky Away and Jubilee Street.

For the encore, Nick sang The Boys Next Door post-punk ballad ‘Shivers’. The Boys Next Door were the first band Nick started out with back in 1973 when Nick was just 16 years of age. They later changed their name to The Birthday Party and attracted a substantial cult following. Nick talked about the loss of his close friend Rowland S. Howard who was in this band and who wrote Shivers when he was just 16 years old. An amazing song and a massive favourite of mine!

The show ended with Nick again acknowledging his Melbourne roots, singing The Seekers classic – The Carnival Is Over from the Bad Seeds’ Kicking Against The Pricks album.

One word … Respect!


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