Nick Cave and Warren Ellis performing at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Wednesday 8th September 2021

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Emerging from eighteen months of a Covid pandemic enforced sabbatical, Nick Cave and his fellow Bad Seed, Warren Ellis seemed delighted to be on stage at the Royal Concert Hall last night, performing a set that sees their first tour as a duo.

Probably the oddest looking couple in the music industry, Cave clad in the best Saville Row has to offer whilst Ellis sits on stage looking like Father Abraham, they delivered a beautifully presented and sporadically magical show.

With songs from new album Ghosteen which Cave and the Bad Seeds were supposed to tour pre pandemic, this was one of the first opportunities that audiences have had to hear these songs live. And with Carnage, an album of songs written over three days during the lockdown with just Ellis, Nick Cave aficionados were taken to music heaven.

Both albums were composed in the wake of the death of Cave’s teenage son, Arthur, in 2015 so they make for beautiful, hauntingly sad and at times a deeply uncomfortable listening experience. Yet as the songs focused upon the starkness of his grief and the depths of his love, the raw power of the material and visceral intensity of the performance was at times, breathtaking.

Joining them on stage was multi instrumentalist Frenchman Johnny Hostile on synthesiser, guitar, violin and flute, and three backing vocalists, T Jae Cole, Janet Rasmus and Wendi Rosi who served to add a celestial wallop to the set which started with Spinning Song from Ghosteen followed by a further two album tracks, Bright Horses and the gem that is Night Raid with Cave’s rich baritone and haunting lyrics.

The title track from Carnage managed to lift the mood slightly before White Elephant with its vivid imagery was both lyrically unconventional and scary. Prowling the stage or seated at his piano, Cave was mesmerizing. Ellis perched on his tiny chair all but invisible behind his unruly grey beard, provided excellent back up to the likes of Lavender Fields and Waiting For You.

Back at the grand piano for the beautiful I Need You, with its desperately emotional lyrics, and for what Cave said was the best song ever written, T Rex’s Cosmic Dancer, the audience hung on his every word.

It was not all gloomy stuff because there was the Bad Seeds belter, God Is In The House mashed up with Breathless and Palaces and when Cave delivered a thrilling Hand Of God, he showed just what a fabulous showman he really is. Back at his piano for main set closer Balcony Man, a song written on the balcony of his Brighton home during the lock down, he started unaccompanied before the very talented Ellis added his contribution as his electronic sounds rebounded around the Concert Hall’s incredible acoustics.

Back on stage for the first of two encores it was Hollywood that was introduced to this appreciative audience before older song, Darker With The Day saw Cave at the front of the stage to also deliver Albuquerque.

Finishing the evening with a mournful and soulful Ghosteen Speaks, Cave’s message had been clear throughout the night. Whether living with and coming out of a global pandemic or dealing with an unspeakable personal trauma, there is always some comfort to be had. If a person is not able to articulate about their own loss especially in these uncertain times, then at least they can listen to Cave’s lyrics and know that there is a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Just ask Nick Cave.