Friday, August 01, 2014

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Sony Centre (live review)

Thursday night boasted the hot ticket of the week as the never-miss Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds returned to Toronto, this time filling the Sony Centre with their dark frenzy.

It seems as though Warren Ellis has been granted licence to take some sandpaper to some of the songs, as many from the recent Push the Sky Away album sounded rougher and harsher than on the group's last swing through town.  The show opener "We Real Cool", as well as "Mermaids", "Jubilee Street", and "Higgs Boson Blues" all fit far more snugly with the rest of the catalogue with some added dissonance. The title track was played straight, being ominous and foreboding enough without any tweaking.

Cave hit his stride as he entered the crowd for the sensory overload of "Tupelo".  He was in full preacher mode as he waded through the sea of outstretched arms of his audience/congregation below.

The crowd was firmly behind the older material, with "From Her To Eternity", "The Weeping Song", and of course "The Mercy Seat" all mesmerizing the crowd.

The requisite piano portion of the evening included the always touching "Into My Arms", which frankly should be used far more often at weddings.  No More Shall We Part tracks "Love Letter" and "God Is In the House" were also included.  The latter's lyrics were altered in include a cheap pop for 'we've got a crackhead for a mayor'.

Surprisingly, Cave fumbled over lyrics on at least two noticeable occasions.  On the payoff lines in the otherwise exceptional rendition of "Red Right Hand", and again on the somewhat non-committal version of "Stagger Lee" he was forced to reuse lines from earlier in the song to finish off.

Another surprise was the inclusion of the rarely played "West Country Girl" in the set.

New Jersey's Nicole Atkins opened the night.  In the past I have liked, but never loved her music.  The performance she put on Thursday night will certainly go a long way to changing that.  Her voice boomed and she loomed larger than life in her Stevie Nicks-esque bejeweled cape as she went through songs like "We Wait Too Long", "Red Ropes", and "The Way It Is".

The highlight of Atkins' set was the bold, sweeping classic rock inspired "Who Killed the Moonlight?".  The only drawback was her decision to omit her song "Oh, Canada" from the set list.

Despite the few missteps, it was a tremendous show.  Of course, anyone who's been to a Bad Seeds concert knows that that is hardly unexpected.


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