Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Birmingham Carling Academy, 5th May 2008

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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Birmingham Carling Academy, 5th May 2008

There’s cool, there’s uber-cool and then there’s Nick Cave. Australia’s finest export – the Black Crow King himself – was on particularly fine form as he performed in front of a sell-out crowd at the apparently soon-to-be demolished Academy on Monday night.

He certainly looked the part. Dressed in a black, open-top silk shirt and sporting a horseshoe moustache, he put one in mind of a Latin American Revolutionary Hero with Goth-inclinations. For over two hours’ he had the audience eating out of his hand. Granted, this may have something to do with the fact that few rock stars have fans who are quite as obsessive as Cave’s (although, unlike the last time I saw him, I didn’t spot any obvious ‘Nick Clones’ in the audience), but then again, few rock stars can match his charisma as a live performer.

With a two hour-plus set comprising of tracks from his new album Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! and some generous portions of from his not inconsiderable back catalogue, Cave and his long-time cohorts The Bad Seeds kept both new fans and decrepit old farts (like me) more than happy for more than two hours. This welcome trawl through the archives went as far back as 1986’s deliciously-titled Your Funeral, My Trial (surely a contender for the quintessential murder ballad title) and included the perennial crowd-pleaser and movie soundtrack tart Red Right Hand. Other highlights of the evening included a stunning rendition of one of my favourite Cave tracks, Tupelo, from 1985’s The Firstborn is Dead. It sounded every bit as menacing and magnificent as when I first heard it as a teenager.

Cave, though, saved the best for last. Before an impromptu and unrehearsed encore performance of the Abattoir Blues‘ opener Get Ready for Love, Cave warned the audience to prepare themselves for a disaster. The performance proved to be anything but: the Bad Seeds played mean and tight and the performance was electrifying. The night ended with The Lyre of Orpheus, which Cave transformed into a full audience-participation, call-and-response anthem.

I’ll be seeing him again at the Latitude Festival this year in his incarnation as lead singer of Grinderman. That makes me an exceptionally lucky bastard.

Thanks to DinosauriaWe on YouTube for the following:


About the Author:

My name is Tom Lennon and I'm a freelance writer who specialises in humour at the geekier end of the pop culture spectrum. I'm based in Birmingham, UK, and my work has recently appeared in BuzzFeed and Time Out.


  1. davey May 14, 2008 at 6:41 am

    missed the whole show due to being stuck on dressing room duty. Heard quite a bit, but was involved in the mysterious disappearance of a box of sandwiches.

    Dems da breaks

  2. Tom Lennon May 14, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Ah, Dave – you and your hardcore rock and roll dressing room antics.

    (For some reaon,m I can’t help but think about Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnell and his miniature sandwich crisis…)

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