Whilst concerts by their very nature are largely structured, staged and controlled by the performer – as part of his current UK tour, Nick Cave has decided to cut that safety net to a certain extent and pass back the control to the audience.
It goes without saying that this unconventional approach could create somewhat of a terrifying experience for both parties involved. For the fans to have the confidence to stand up in front of a crowd of approximately 2,000 attendees and delve into Nick Cave’s fame or persona, and on the other hand for the artist himself to have to bare his soul in front of a room full of strangers.
And with a sold-out crowd in attendance at Sage Gateshead, the pressure is certainly on for the multi-faceted artist. By his own admittance with this show, ‘they are freewheeling adventures in intimacy where anything can happen’. This sentiment certainly rings true on Tyneside this evening.
In this day and age and with the advent of social media music fans now more than ever have a window into the daily lives of their heroes. But it’s fair to say that this evening’s event, certainly takes that premise to a whole new level.
And whilst this may not necessarily be the first time an artist has been questioned on stage in front of a room full of fans, Cave’s approach is certainly different and entirely refreshing. You tend to find that with occasions such as this that the performer is interviewed by a journalist or trusted colleague, and the type of questions are usually quite conventional and plucked from a press release or a biography. However, when you pass that baton or microphone in this instance to a hall full of super fans, the artist must expect the unexpected.
Have you ever wondered who Nick Cave would invite to his dream dinner party, about his favourite piece of poetry, the characters or meanings within his songs or whatever happened to the script he wrote for the movie Gladiator 2? Then this is the event for you.
Now each of the aforementioned questions may seem pretty standard, but this evening no topic is deemed too sacred or taboo and as a result, Cave faces questions regarding subjects that are more probing such as marriage, death, religion and even addiction. It’s fair to say that the Gateshead crowd don’t hold anything back. And despite the personal nature of these topics the legendary singer/songwriter remains cool, calm and collected throughout.
This evening’s ‘Conversations with Nick Cave’ event is interspersed with song. And with no setlist, it feels as though each question or story is perfectly and seamlessly illustrated by numbers from throughout Cave’s vast songbook. Armed with only a collection of sheet music, a grand piano and his incredible voice Cave treats the audience to spellbinding renditions of the likes of God Is In The House, West Country Girl, Jubilee Street, Stagger Lee, Higgs Boson Blues, Skeleton Tree, The Mercy Seat along with covers of Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche and T-Rex’s Cosmic Dancer. Cave’s unrivalled creativity, dramatic delivery and poetic lyricism captivate the audience throughout.
During the course of the evening, Cave is surrounded not only by patrons in the front of the house but also by invited guests onstage who are seated in tables surrounding his piano throughout. This, in turn, adds to and enhances the personal nature of this evening’s proceedings.
Whilst most artists who are thirty plus years into their career would simply turn up and take the easy route or the road most travelled and deliver a ninety minute set of their latest and greatest hits – Nick Cave is not ‘most artists’. This evening’s show is a three-hour extravaganza where no stone is left unturned. Without room for pause or even an interval, this evening nobody leaves the hall feeling shortchanged.
The beauty of tonight’s event is that everyone in attendance takes something different away from the proceedings. Whether that be insight, advice, a song request or a more permanent souvenir such as a selfie, a treasured autograph or a prime position on the stage in close proximity to the man himself. For Cave, that value or takeaway thought being a deeper understanding and closer connection with his audience. This evening’s performance was certainly enjoyable as much as it was inspiring. Nick Cave is simply in a league of his own.
Event Date: 23-June-2019
Photo: Daniel Boud