With the Bad Seeds, Tuesday, October 7. Tickets go onsale this Friday at 10am.
In the beginning, there was The Birthday Party. And it was good. Rock n roll as sonic aneurysm: screeching, cataclysmic and cruel. The Birthday Party was scary, but not in the corny Count Chocula way of the Kabuki-faced goths that followed in its wake, but, like, Exorcist scary. Danger was the Birthday Party’s business, and in the early 80s business was good. Nick Cave was the human cannonball at the microphone, and the band would just light his fuse and run for cover. When the audience demanded blood, Cave would open up and bleed with the best of them. When he got bored with that, he would lunge into the crowd for a good punch-up or casually drop kick any skull that dared to violate the sacred space of the stage. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Birthday Party nicknamed one tour ‘Whoops, I’ve Got Blood On The Tip Of My Boot’ Tour.
And then there were the drugs — bags and bags of drugs. The worst drugs money can buy. It wasn’t long before Cave was willing to cut off his leg to feed his arm, and things only grew more ghoulish and dastardly. He was literally scrawling song lyrics into his notebook with a blood-filled syringe. Until one day when the Birthday Party ran out of blood and the willingness to extract it from others. All things move towards their end, Cave would later sing, and the Birthday Party had stopped moving. So ends the first chapter in the Gospel of Nick.
Along the way, something miraculous happened: Nick The Ripper transfigured into old Saint Nick and he became…wait for it…capital-G great. While many still assume he sleeps in a coffin and others have convicted him in absentia for the fashion crimes of a million po-faced goth twinks, the standard by which he measures himself as an artist is the work of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Leonard Cohen — before which, he will tell you, he stands humbled. Although he’ll deny it, the music he has been making since, oh I dunno, at least as far back as 1996’s Murder Ballads, breathes the same rarefied air those artists once exhaled. At times stripped nearly to the bone of silence — and devoid all the pretense, posturing and dark intent that could sometimes mar his earlier work — these psalms of love and devotion lift their skinny arms toward heaven, where they once pounded the sands of the abyss. And it was good. Very good. – Jonathan Valania
[Illustration by JAY BEVENOUR]