Five reasons I’m freaking out that Nick Cave is coming to town (playing Keswick Theater on 3/19)
Well that just made my morning. With their fifteenth studio album slated for a spring release, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are touring – and swinging through the Philadelphia area. They play The Keswick Theater in Glenside on Tuesday, March 19, with Sharon Van Etten opening. Tickets go on sale this Thursday, December 6, at 10 a.m. Now, if you’re not sure which part of that paragraph to start freaking out about first, let me help by breaking it down for you with the five things about this concert announcement I’m most excited for.
The Venue – The last time Nick Cave came through the region, he played the Electric Factory, which was well-suited for the raucous rock of 2008’s Dig, Lazarus, Dig, but unfortunately swallowed the more tender, nuanced moments of his catalog. The time before that (gosh, an eternity), he played the 1994 Lollapalooza tour at FDR Park in the middle of the afternoon in August, which was well-suited for, er, nothing. This time, Cave and his band are getting cozy in the elegant digs of The Keswick, a seated room with acclaimed acoustics which will nicely carry the refined arrangements of The Bad Seeds should they dip into, say, The Boatman’s Call, but will also powerfully convey the dense, anarchic rock of selections from (pretty please) Henry’s Dream.
The Opener – We’re big fans of Sharon Van Etten over here at XPN. We’ve followed her from a slot at Philadelphia Folk Festival in 2008, to her stint launching the Shaking Through series with the moving “Love More,” up to her stunning 2012 release Tramp, which personally ranks among my favorite albums of the year. She writes smart, emotional rock songs and arranges them so they to the core, and her live band is top notch. Listen to her Free at Noon performance from February here (via the WXPN media player) and check out an unreleased demo, “Tell Me,” below.
The New Album – Cave is the rare artist that can continue making music 30+ years into his career that’s every bit as gripping and vital as when he started. Whether its ominous bar-room boogie or string-laden elegies, he continues to enthrall. Push the Sky Away is due out in February, and here’s how certain I am that it’s going to rule. His label recently released a trailer for the record that shows Cave and fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis in the studio, working on the album. They do mundane things about the room – ask if microphones are turned on and which should be used, clarify what key a song is in, etc. But an underbelly of ambient drone and pulsing blasts of bass make it the most intense freaking montage of studio b-roll of all time. Watch it below, and tell me you’re not pumped to hear the record, like, immediately.
The Back Catalogue – “The Weeping Song.” “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry.” “Red Right Hand.” “Stagger Lee.” “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow.” I could just keep listing songs that I can’t wait to hear live, but suffice it to say, Cave’s catalogue is strong – from the bluesy, noisy, intense early work he recorded coming out of his post-punk act The Birthday Party to his late 80s / early 90s goth troubador persona to today’s elder statesman, I’ll-do-whatever-the-eff-I-want approach. And with the Bad Seeds backing him up, it’s bound to sound massive. Watch a video of freaking “Tupelo” from the Hurricane Festival and try not to lose your mind.
The Rarity – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is a band that, pretty much, doesn’t need to tour. They’ve got a dedicated enough following that any record they release will do well for them, and their back-catalogue continues to attract new listeners. When they do tour the states, it’s usually only a handful of dates: New York, DC, Chicago, L.A. Rarely is Philadelphia included in the mix – aside from the two dates mentioned above, he played the Chestnut Cabaret in the 80s…and that might be it. Suffice it to say, this is HUGE that he’ll be in town. You can rest assured I’ll be there and I hope you can make it too.