As a Nick Cave fan, writing about a tribute show on one of my favourite artists could be hard or easy. Do I compare the musicians to Nick or do I draw on their strengths and talents in performing the songs or do I try to feel I’m hearing the songs for the first time? I think the middle suggestion is best. I can’t compare anyone to one of our national treasures who has brought us the songs and i don’t think there is any way I can pretend I’ve never heard the songs before! All artists tonight have been influenced by Cave in their own rich and developing ways over the past 35 years! If you haven’t heard of Nick Cave then get your head out of the sand and do yourself a favour. Tonight we are graced with some amazing talent, new and old, and each delves into each Cave song with their own essence and beauty.
A packed venue tonight at The Forum Theatre as I make my way near the front and see chandeliers above stage and a rich red glow on the stage. The Triple J boys welcome us all to Part I of the night, then band enter - Kram (Spiderbait) is last to walk to his drum kit and straight into Red Right Hand, a quieter version, yet a version with impact . Bertie Blackman and Muscles continue with Do You Love Me which has great atmosphere and takes the song for a ride with fabulous keyboard action. Muscles takes on Let Love In which I didn’t fancy that much, because there was just no oomph for me. Lie Down Here & Be My Girl unleashes Abbe May with guitar in tow and she takes the song and licks into it with guitar solos and lashings of expression.
Alex Burnett (Sparkadia) is a tremendous asset tonight, suited to the style of Cave music; he takes on Shivers and does a great version of the famous tune. Alex incites Lani Lane onstage for Where The Wild Roses Grow which is aptly sung. The two weave on stage and almost act out the song. Johnny MacKay (Children Collide) puts sparks into Nick The Stripper (I can’t help but wonder if Cave is invoking him!), whilst Lani Lane takes on the trombone for this song. Johnny loses control of the microphone but the way he embraced the song, it’s no wonder and it just proved how much of himself he was putting into the song. Johnny then heads into People, Just Ain’t No Good.
Lisa Mitchell cruises into Ship Song and this is credibly sung, nothing but her voice and the sound of piano accordion to float around the room. Jake Stone from Blue Juice creeps on stage and says “what’s up c***s and most of the crowd laughs whilst he sways into The Weeping Song – a dub version, that somehow fitted. Jake was very tame compared to his normal antics on stage.
Urthboy was rather different and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy hearing Cave in hip hop style, and the song O’Children was sung in a way I don’t think Cave would ever thought possible. It was sung handsomely and I enjoyed it better that the original. Tim Rogers (again, I feel he was invoked by Cave), bounced into From Her To Eternity, all over the stage would be sweat from Tim. After a wardrobe malfunction, which left us all seeing his pants partly fall down, but this didn’t stop Tim, screaming the song to the crowd, falling to his knees and overall totally immersing himself into the song, the way Cave does.
Part II takes us on another path of Cave delights. Abbe May sings Depth Charge Ethel and Adalita grooves into Straight To You followed by Lisa Mitchell crooning through Into My Arms and ending by dancing with Jake Stone. The girls do Cave justice and now the boys take stage – Paul Kelly strides on stage to crowd applause and heads into Nobody’s Baby Now which features those prominent keys again, fantastic. The song Lament brings Spanish dancing to the stage, before we are taken into a rap version of Stagger Lee by Urthboy, I love the original of this song and I feel this was a pretty good version of the song and the band were amazing here.
Stagger Lee was staged out with Lani and Alex taking part in the acting out the song. Bertie hops back on stage saying ‘that is a hard act to follow’ and she launches into The Mercy Seat which she takes on like a bull in a china shop. Kram sings Henry Lee and this version pulled elements of his cheekiness with the flow of the song and joined both together to be a hit.
For the finale, all artists joins stage and head into Jack The Ripper, There She Goes My Beautiful World and lastly (one of my favourites), Papa Won’t Leave You Henry.