Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Album review: NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS - Live at KCRW

Highlights: Higgs Boson Blues, Stranger Than Kindness, The Mercy Seat, Jack The Ripper

It’s a good year that starts and ends with a Nick Cave album. (Of which more in a month.) This is a live album, and a relatively short one: just 10 songs, even if the majority of them expectedly go on for more than 5 minutes. Anyway, these are the details.

8 things FOR Live at KCRW.

1. The band is terrific live: the playing, the chemistry. In fact, I’m yet to hear of an underwhelming live performance from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
2. The production is good. The audience only ‘appears’ to give lavish applause at the end of the songs (because what’s a live album without applause?)
3. These are not just live versions of Push The Sky Away tracks. Cave even pulls out “Stranger Than Kindness” from Your Funeral… My Trial, and it is a high point.
4. There’s a significantly slowed down take on “Mercy Seat”, and, unsurprisingly, it is as intense and hard-hitting as the usual version. Cave gives one hell of a vocal performance.
5. The dramatic, free-floating, beautifully built “Higgs Boson Blues” was the best song on Push The Sky Away, and it sounds even better live. 
6. Funny banter after “Far From Me”. Cave encourages the audience to mention songs they would want to hear. To which: “Up Jumped The Devil”, “Nick The Stripper”, “Into My Arms”, etc. Cave: “Eventually you’ll say one of the songs on this very short list here”.
7. The unlikely Miley Cyrus reference in “Higgs Boson Blues” is even more relevant, but sounds just as unlikely as it did in February.
8. The show ends with “Jack The Ripper”.

2 things AGAINST Live at KCRW.

1. “Wide Lovely Eyes” was the weakest song on Push The Sky Away. This version is lovely, and the guitar solo sounds good, but the overall effect just isn’t too impressive.
2. The second side is perhaps too much of a lull. Even if God knows I still love “People Ain’t That Good”.


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