#788: 1994, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Red Right Hand

by George_East on October 31, 2013

There are two reasons for my pick for tonight’s Song To Learn and Sing. First and foremost I had the pleasure of seeing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds live at the Hammersmith Apollo on Sunday night.   Mrs East had bought me tickets as a birthday present, but sadly she was not well enough to come.   So instead I offered the other ticket at short notice to Jackie, who came with me instead.

Last time I saw Nick Cave, back in 2008, he was channeling Little Richard – all glittery jackets and stand up lean back half crazed piano playing.  This time his model seemed to be Vegas-era Elvis, albeit a stick thin once heroin addict head to toe in black version.    Cave spent a good deal of the gig standing on the security barrier getting up close and personal with those in the front few rows.   Like both Patti Smith and Neil Young earlier in the year, Nick Cave showed that being in the business for decades is no obstacle to a full on rock out performance.  Indeed many of the younger acts I’ve seen this last year could learn a thing or two from their elders about how to do a rock n roll show.

Cave was on blistering form, playing a good mix of back catalogue stuff covering pretty much his whole career, going way back to his first solo album (he played the title track from 1984’s From Her To Eternity), and songs from his superb new album, Push The Sky Away, a record which sees a return to Cave’s crooner-y ballad style after the full on rawk out that was 2008’s Dig!!! Lazarus Digg!!!  And this was not a nostalgia set with the new songs getting in the way – the second song he played, a stunning version of Jubilee Street from the new album, comfortably stood by the best of his extraordinary back catalogue.

This was a perfectly judged 2 hour set spanning the range of Cave’s style’s from the quietest of piano ballads like the lovely God Is In The House and Into My Arms (the first dance at my wedding) to the screeching garage blues rock of Tupelo  and the gothic darkness of Stagger Lee.  It covered all bases for the fair weather fan and the devotee alike.  It was an astounding gig.

Bad Seed   Warren Ellis once again confirmed his position as the greatest rock violinist of all time with a performance as manic and full of energy as that of Cave.

Which all brings me to the second reason for choosing Red Right Hand, which was the third in Cave’s set and the first oldie he played.  It is an ever present in Nick Cave’s live set and always a fan favourite.   Today is Halloween and with its lyrics (inspired by Milton) about a mysterious all powerful figure (‘you are just a microscopic cog in his catastrophic plan’) in a dusty black coat with a red right hand, and its Hammer Horror film soundtrack bells and organ solo, seemed somehow apt.

he’s a ghost, he’s a god, he’s a man, he’s a gu-ru’


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