Live review: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds at the Barrowlands, 31/10/13

nickcave_ingridmur_01There’s a feeling in the air tonight that this one’s going to be something special, the gig everyone’s been waiting for – it’s Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds on Halloween, yes the stars have aligned and master of dark imagery is in Glasgow on this night of all nights.

There’s no costumes tonight though, nor were they expected, the Barrowlands is usually too roasting for such frivolous ideas and Cave and co will surely let the songs do the talking, but as Cave points out late in the set “for me it’s Halloween every night”.

The band are as strong as ever, and Cave gives his usual buoyant performance filled with sleazy hip movements and plenty of attitude – they open up with a couple of numbers from latest album, Push The Sky Away (their highest charting album in the UK ever at no.3), ‘We No Who U R’ and ‘Jubilee Street’ are received well by the excitable crowd and although his latest album hasn’t quite reached the critical heights of his career, it is definitely not a weak addition to a huge back catalogue.

That back catalogue is put to use tonight too, as we see tracks from 10 different albums (along with one brand new track) in a long but never tiring set.

An early appearance from rousingly heavy ballad ‘Do You Love Me?’, making its first live appearance of 2013, whets the crowds appetite and from then on in it’s plain sailing.

When Cave isn’t up front grinding his hips at the audience in a seductive trance or wiping the sweat from the ever energetic Warren Ellis’ beard, he’s letting his voice do the talking; least we forgot not only is Cave one of the best songwriters going today he also possesses one of the most powerful and unique voices around also.

Cave goes comfortably from demonic sneering to longing ballads that would leave anyone weak at the knees and all with a never-ending energy that just swells to the crowd it’s potent stuff, and all from a man now approaching his late 50s.

Latest set regulars ‘Tupelo’ and ‘From Her To Eternity’, both from early Bad Seeds, mid-80s albums, swell with a darkness only advanced by tonight’s demonic connotations.

The delicate piano and string led ‘Into My Arms’ makes another welcome return to the set, surely drawing a tear from many an audience member as everyone is lost in the glorious hymn’s tender beauty.

No Bad Seeds set is complete these days without the swampy grooves of Let Love In’s ‘hit’ ‘Red Right Hand’ or the rip-roaring, profanity ridden take on the tale of ‘Stagger Lee’, now complete with Stag violating the devil.

A four-track encore includes the powerful garage rock vibes of Tender Pray’s ‘Deanna’ and ends on new piano-led number ‘Give Us A Kiss’, which Cave dedicates to Lou Reed as the set ends on a tender moment.

Tonight sees the Bad Seeds on top form, not that you get many bad sets from these guys, Cave oozes charisma and energy and always seems to pick out some gems from his prolific back catalogue; it’s not often you get to see these guys but seeing them on Halloween is definitely something to hang on your mantelpiece.

more photos

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Ingrid Mur

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