Nick Cave almost solo, imperial at Place des Arts

The Australian icon was back in town on Thursday evening for a new round of singing about “obsession and despair”, joked Nick Cave, with this touch of self-deprecation which lightened the atmosphere weighed down by his tales of souls, loves and damned desires. A year and a half after his last stopover in Montreal, he came as part of a solo tour, not really solo since he was accompanied – discreetly, but nonetheless – on electric bass by Colin Greenwood of Radiohead. Two dozen songs spread over two long hours, the fans were spoiled and satisfied.

A grand piano, placed in the center of the stage; the Greenwood amp set back, courtyard side. Spotlight on Cave from behind the scenes. That’s all it took to succeed in this intimate recital, scenographically frugal, generous in emotion. The poet followed his accompanist on stage around 8:20 p.m., embracing Girl in Ambera masterpiece Skeleton Treealbum recorded with the Bad Seeds and released in 2016.

“Thank you Montreal! », he said, standing in front of his piano, greeting the audience and introducing his illustrious bassist. “Nice to be back – I wonder: have I played here before? » But yes, twice rather than once in April 2022, this time accompanied by the spectacular violinist Warren Ellis, old accomplice of the Bad Seeds. Two very different performances, in the choice of songs first, which obviously overlapped on the classics, but which gave pride of place to old Bad Seeds material, “to rarely played songs and to new ones”, announced Cave .

And as he likes to do, Nick Cave gives a little context about the creation of this or that song. There is the interpretation and the master class, the informed commentary on his craft as a songwriter – last night’s recital was thus more in the spirit of the Conversation with Nick Cave tour during which he spoke with his fans at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church in the fall of 2019, at the invitation of POP Montréal. Without, however, the long digressions and questions from the public: more songs, fewer confidences.

At the start of the evening, he offered Higgs Boson Blues (of Push the Sky Away2013), Jesus of the Moon (powerful rock Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!2008), the magnificent ballad Galleon Ship recent Ghosteen (2019), Colin Greenwood emerging from the shadows to extend a carnal bass line under Cave’s piano. On the one hand we would have liked to hear the concert, orchestrated with synths, of his last creative cycle, then on the other hand we savor the text and the melody of the stripped down, laid bare versions of these painful songs about mourning. .

Then comes a new release, “a little song” composed for an album by the Bad Seeds, who had neglected it. She lives again on stage, this little thing called To Be Foundbrief and pretty, before its author continues with OChildrena song from 2004 that reappeared in the collective imagination after being heard in a cinematic episode of the Harry Potter saga.

Cave’s voice is flawless, the baritone thunders, stretches the note which resonates all the way to the last balcony of this packed Wilfrid-Pelletier room. After two ballads on the theme of long-awaited love (I Need You and Waiting For You), Cave is addressing the spectators of the balconies, inviting them to come forward loudly every time he says the word “balcony” in Balcony Manand no one up there was asked.

It set the mood and loosened up the spectators, who shouted song titles at him hoping to hear them. They were served, first by vintage Bad Seeds, The Mercy Seat (reference to the electric chair composed in 1988 by Cave and Mick Harvey for the album Tender Prey), then by (Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?from another classic album, The Boatman’s Call (1997). And another release from the previous century, The Weeping SongCave’s rhythmic piano playing evoking the rhythmic rock of the original version released on The Good Song (1990).

The recital ended, Cave still seemed to have the energy and vocal power of an entire choir to sing for another 90 minutes. The moment of the immortals, Into My Armsobviously (played at a fairly fast pace, moreover), Jubilee Street, Push the Sky Away And Wide Loveley Eyes from the same 2013 album. As an encore, six songs, including Palaces of Montezuma of the quasi-punk project Grinderman, Nobody’s Baby Now as requested by a fan, his cover of Cosmic Dancer by T. Rex (which he also played with us in 2022) and the very old Stranger Than Kindness (of Your Funeral… My Trial, 1986), a song composed at the time for the Bad Seeds by his old friend Anita Lane, who died two years ago. Magnificent evening.

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