Indie’s dark prince graces us with a rare-for-2020 live appearance.
By Kari Eisenhardt
Live music has been a sad proposition in this foul year of our Lord, 2020. Sure — we started out great. We all booked our tickets, got our glad rags ready, and started cross-training our livers for unlimited nights out on the town. Then along came COVID-19, which canceled more gigs than Axl Rose and Morrissey put together. It was a next-level bummer that no music fan — or band, for that matter — saw coming.
Now that we’ve entered the age of Zoom calls and social distancing, enterprising bands and artists have fully embraced the “live stream:” a way to perform live and connect with their audiences from the comfort of their couches. It’s become our new way of life, and now indie’s dark prince, Nick Cave, has joined the party.
For those of you who haven’t been, Alexandra Palace is a deeply cavernous place that simply begs for a huge audience. It would seem like it would almost swallow up a single man on piano, sound-wise. Yet somehow, Cave seems to fill the entire venue, ripping through a vast, 22-song setlist of some of his finest works.
When not flanked by his Bad Seeds or Grinderman boys, Cave’s vocals accompanied by his trademark scowls and simply stark lighting paint a picture of true sorrow and loneliness, which seems somewhat like an appropriate mirror for our times. Tracks from the piano-laden The Boatman’s Call and his last two heartbreaking records, Skeleton Tree and Ghosteen, truly shine in this format. It’s a classic, melancholy setlist that speaks of solitude, punctuated by its surroundings.
Smack in the middle of the proceedings Cave wheels out a brand new track called Euthanasia (cheery — thanks, Nick), which burns like a torch song followed by a sucker punch. It’s pure lovelorn grief, but that’s why we’re here. You don’t go to a Nick Cave gig and expect to go skipping out. It’s just not that kind of party.
While this particular format for a gig sounds beautiful and haunting, it’s also a reminder of the times. Normally after hearing a song like Jubilee Street you’d expect some kind of rapturous applause. Instead, we’re greeted with simple silence and the quiet sound of a page of music being turned over. At that moment, the emptiness can seem overwhelming. But maybe this is what makes it oh-so-very Nick Cave.
Palaces of Montezuma
Girl in Amber
Man in the Moon
Nobody’s Baby Now
(Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?
Waiting for You
The Mercy Seat
Far From Me
He Wants You
Higgs Boson Blues
Stranger Than Kindness
Into My Arms
The Ship Song
Papa Won’t Leave You Henry
Cinema tickets are now on sale in over 20 countries to watch the extended version of Idiot Prayer – Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace, screening globally from November 5. Book cinema tickets at nickcave.com/idiotprayer
*The on-sale date for North America cinema tickets will be announced shortly.
Pre-order the album now at nickcave.com/idiotprayer