Nick Cave performing Conversations with Nick Cave An Evening Of Talk & Music at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Tuesday 25th June 2019

Review by Kevin Cooper

Surrounded on all sides by an audience at the Royal Concert Hall last night, Nick Cave introduced the format of the evening, in that he was going to perform songs with only a piano and field questions from the audience with no subject being off limits.

Having played the Motorpoint Arena less than two years ago, last night’s performance was the complete opposite as he delivered a three hour show with no interval. It was a spin off from The Red Hand Files, his regular emails that he sends to fans, in which he answers questions about any subject, and none being out of bounds.

With not a seat to be had, with even the choir stalls full, something that hasn’t been seen since Sir Elton John opened the venue back in 1982, because of its intensity this was a performance for his diehard fans and not the casual observer.

Remaining cool, calm and collected throughout, he answered questions of a variable quality. Asked by one audience member if he found it hard to cope with all the admiration, he replied “no” before jokingly moving on. He claimed never to have had writers block or dry spells but explained that there were two parts to writing; the actual writing and then the sending out of the songs which he finds terrifying.

Amidst all the banter with fans that ran record shops, he told us how much his son likes the Sleaford Mods although he has personally never heard of either them or their work. When asked if he ever thinks about the meaning of his surname, he replied, “it’s just a fucking name”, showing his razor sharp wit.

There were funny stories about making videos and working with the eccentric Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld, before the atmosphere was plunged into the deep with questions about his son’s death in 2015 and how he had coped with the all consuming grief at the time.

Yet there was never any doubt that Cave was in control of the evening, commanding the stage with his brooding form and conducting the audience with his thoughtful responses.

But the real highlights of the evening came when the lights dimmed and armed with only a collection of sheet music, a grand piano, a spotlight and his incredible voice, Cave treated the audience with spell binding renditions of God Is In The House and The Weeping Song.

There was a powerful version of The Mercy Seat, a lovely Into My Arms, a surprise rendition of Palaces Of Montezuma, a rip roaring Stagger Lee and a stirring cover of Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche before he launched into his admitted most favourite song, T Rex’s Cosmic Dancer.

And going to the finishing line with the superb The Ship Song, and the emotional Breathless, both dwarfed by an almost unbearably emotional Girl In Amber, a song he said he was playing for the first time on his own, before O Children and Skeleton Tree brought the evening to an end.

With the audience on their feet in appreciation and the applause seemingly going on forever, Cave had shown his vulnerable side in an evening of conversation that had certainly been as enjoyable as much as it was inspiring. Nick Cave is simply in a league of his own.