Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
@ The Balboa Theater
I'm not a Nick Cave fan- at all! It's crazy- Zoo Music is partially named after a Birthday Party song (Nick Cave early band)- you would think I would be into him. But just not! Same thing with Tom Waits! And most of the films of Jim Jarmusch (Mystery Train, Down By Law excepted.) At the same time I deeply respect Nick Cave and the career he has fashioned ad-midst the ongoing collapse of the music industry.
If you are looking at a younger Artist and trying to figure out "Well- what would be a good career to emulate?" Nick Cave would be high on that list. Tom Waits would be high on that list. I'm talking about mature artists who have a career when they have not absolutely prostituted their art. Compare the dignity of Tom Waits & Nick Cave with the off-putting late career antics of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. All I'm saying is that choices have consequences.
First time at the recently renovated Balboa Theater (located in the Gaslamp at Horton Plaza.) They have knocked down the abysmal Sam Goody building so now you can see the Theater facade from Broadway & 4th and let me tell you it was a good look. The theater itself was a pleasure- seats weren't too small and the sound was AMAZING. From my second row balcony seat the mix sounded great- and The Bad Seeds were rolling seven men deep? Eight men deep? Keyboards! Fiddles! Xylophone! Synths! Pianos! Guitars! Atmospheric noise elements on loop!
Being a Nick Cave NOOB I hesitate to say anything about the performance except for the fact that he played for close to two hours. That he played his hits. That the crowd fucking loved every g-d minute, that Cave relies heavily on the theme of Dr Faust where the Doctor sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge. This story was appropriated by Blues aficionados most often in the narrative surrounding "lost" Blues Men from the Delta and the idea that they sold their soul to the devil at the crossroads- and their lyrics to that effect.
Nick Cave seems like a sophisticated, erudite kind of guy so I'm assuming that he is hip to Dr Faust and Goethe etc. He has crafted this image that has a relatively narrow but deep appeal- deep enough to sell out 1000+ cap venue with tickets that cost between 70 and 100 plus dollars and sold out instantly. That's a good Audience!
Even without a firm grasp of the catalog I was deeply impressed by the set. I was less impressed by the Audience- shout out to the guy sitting next to me who watched the whole- two hour- performance through a pair of opera glasses. Rock on, my man. Looking down from the balcony it was hard to ignore the advanced... age of the crowd. I would probably attribute that more to the cost and difficulty of obtaining the tickets vs. a knock on the age of Cave's fan base. Still, to feel like "the youngest person there" as a 37 year old- at a ROCK concert is something else. I've felt older at the Opera.
It is pretty clear from everything that Nick Cave says and does that he fucking hates playing the rock touring game and probably thinks a good portion of his casual fan base are morons. I don't know how you could watch that performance and be deeply, deeply impressed with Cave's live show. And the man himself. Nick Cave runs his own show- puts out his own records, books his own tours etc. DIY as fuck. Lesser Artists could learn something from his hard core DIY approach and the long term success that has resulted.