a memorable musical mass by the Australian dandy

We’ve been warned: Australian singer Nick Cave, 64, has been a storm under the spotlight. When he entered the stage in all silence, it did not take long for the concert to become explosive. Nick Cave moved to Rock en Seine, Friday August 26, for a performance of more than two hours. A blessing for the large audience, and the impression that was in the Stade de France.

In the shade of a blue light, the Australian dandy comes on stage as if he entered a cozy and warm living room. His group, consisting mainly of his faithful traveling companion Warren Ellis, settled down. The musicians adjust the shoulder strap of their guitar, turn their tuning key one last time. Three singers, in spangled ensembles, cleared their throats. There was no time to lose, the thousands of people glued to the scene were already shouting in minutes. “Prepare for love. Praise him!”, Nick Cave began with his recognizable baritone timbre. The instruments are warmed up, the concert can begin and the audience is in sight.

Australian singer Nick Cave during a concert with his band, Bad Seeds, at Rock en Seine, in Paris, on August 26, 2022. (NISRINE MANAI)

“Nick Cave lived through very painful periods, music was a particular outlet for him, he gave himself up on stage, the public was not mistaken”, summed up on the microphone of AFP Matthieu Ducos, director of the festival, a few days ago. After losing her first child in 2015, the Australian rocker announced the death of her 31-year-old son in May. A tragic event that did not cancel his European tour, to the surprise of all his fans: his mourning will be done in music, with his group and his public, in concerts more cathartic than before.

With his three-piece suit, his long jet black hair impeccably styled back, we know why his song Red Right Hand selected for credits in Peaky Blinders. Like the protagonists of the British series, the Australian singer is a kind of gentleman bandit. Eyes fixed, locks tucked behind the ears, he gave the impression that his every move was controlled, orchestrated. However, that didn’t stop him from bursting into every burst of music: he dropped his microphone, kicked his easel, hammered the keys on his piano with no part of his shirt coming out of his pants. .

With Jubilee Street (2013), he was overwhelmed with increasing anger: he jumped, howling. He threw his scores in the air, pushed his microphone stand. It’s not anger anymore, it’s rage. Behind him, the technicians picked up the items to return them to their place as if nothing had happened. The piece ends without a microphone, only the five musicians continue the melody and amplify the crooner’s voice that has never been heard before.

Australian singer Nick Cave during a concert with his band, Bad Seeds, at Rock en Seine, in Paris, on August 26, 2022. (NISRINE MANAI)

The tornado passed… and it returned to calm. The inexhaustible singer sat down in front of his piano and began to play Bright Horses (2019). The musician Warren Ellis, angry with his guitar a few minutes later, also lowered himself and sang softly: “And I’m by your side and I’m holding your hand / Bright horses of wonder spring from your burning hand” “). Nick Cave regained control and enveloped the audience, still shaken, in a velvet embrace, dragging them from one atmosphere to another without ever letting go.

Formed in 1983, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have composed seventeen albums in total, the most recent of which, Ghosten released in stores in 2019. Always very rock, the titles also flirt with blues, folk or country. A wide range of styles for the same wide range of emotions that Nick Cave embodies with passion on stage.

Apart from being a singer, he is also a storyteller. Throughout the concert, he shared painful, tender or violent stories. For his third piece, From him forever (1984), it tells the life of a sad young woman with whom the narrator falls madly in love. Staring the audience straight in the eye, the Australian dandy bent down and belted out the lyrics of his song. He grinned, frowning. Sometimes her breathing is labored and her voice is filled with tears. He fell to the ground, kneeling and moaning. “Cry, cry, cry”, he repeated before the audience who hummed the words they knew by heart. When the unimaginable happens Red Right Hand (the series credits Peaky Blinders), he takes us with him through the streets of London in pursuit of a man with a red hand. He borrowed a beret from the crowd and pretended to put it on his head. Its musicians, multi-instrumentalist, from guitar to violin, from tambourine to xylophone, to the rhythm of stories and pieces.

Australian singer Nick Cave during a concert with his band, Bad Seeds, at Rock en Seine, in Paris, on August 26, 2022. (NISRINE MANAI)

As the night goes on, Nick Cave talks about the cruelty of a vengeful God City of Refuge (1988), and absolute goodness of O children (2004). It also awakens the weakness of the flesh of the firecracker Jubilee Street and the strength of love with Waiting for You (2019). But the most touching moment remains when he interpreted the song I Need You (2016). This track, released in 2016, is dedicated to his two surviving sons, Luke and Earl. Facing his piano, the man, who was suddenly very weak, had nothing to do with the one who jumped on the stage a few minutes ago. “he made me cry”breathed a woman in her forties, when the piece was finished and the singer was praised.

Amazed by his stories, the public was also amazed by his generosity. Nick Cave deployed a two-hour scenario in which he included the audience and his musicians. He played the role of the narrator, leading the dance. When he brushes the edge of the stage, the fingers try to catch him and pull him into the pit. Instead of trying not to fall, the singer let himself fall without losing his microphone and his poise. He held every hand that met his eyes. on Higgs Boson Blues (2013), as he wraps his long fingers around a viewer, many hands weld this unity. Terrible.

These strong public contacts, he also creates them between each song. Number of “Thank you Paris, you are amazing” can’t be counted anymore. After the first sound, he stared at a random person in the crowd. “This song is for you. What is your name? Annabelle? My song is not called ‘Annabel’ but i will sing for you”. Nick Cave gave the public the impression that he was unique. Even after two energetic hours of the concert and fifteen songs performed, he returned to the stage for two tracks, including the iconic one. In my arms (1997).

Australian singer Nick Cave during a concert with his band, the Bad Seeds, at Rock en Seine, in Paris, on August 26, 2022. (ANNA KURTH / AFP)

The singer expressed his friendship for his team as before. While he was singing White Elephant, he invited his three singers to come to the front of the stage. They obeyed, mixing their voices with Nick Cave’s who then knelt before them to give them the light. But above all it was his collaboration with his musician Warren Ellis that touched our hearts: in Higgs Boson Blues the two men kiss and embrace in a great moment of brotherly love.

“I can’t stand it, it’s hard to get off, it’s unbelievable”, confessed a young man to his friend, still in a state of shock. When the spectators leave the Rock en Seine meadow, most of them are completely overwhelmed. Rockers, fans of the group since the 80s, were happy to find their idols. Others, perhaps there out of curiosity, left amazed at this discovery. The seductive power of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is irresistible.

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