I am not really fan of concert movies, I greatly prefer living the real thing, the live experience, but when this experience has been so amazing, it’s not bad to relive it through other people’s faces on a large screen. I saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds last summer at the Greek theater, I was front row, standing in the pit and I don’t think I ever had a better concert experience in my entire life. It was a very intense, real and emotional experience, that left me overwhelmed by all sort of emotions, hours, days, even weeks later.
‘Distant Sky’, the new live concert film which captured Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ performance at Copenhagen’s Royal Arena in October 2017, was screened worldwide on April 12th, and I went to see it, probably like an addict eager to relive this same memorable high. And if I didn’t really experience this same high at the image of the addict craving for his fix — because I could not touch Nick Cave’s shoes and pants, I couldn’t smell the fever around me, and I was not rubbing elbows with the crowd united as one just for a night — it was probably the best thing close to it… Furthermore, for someone who has been in search of her favorite drug, the movie came with a good surprise as it started with the announcement of a few fall dates for the Bad Seeds, confirmed by an official email from Nick Cave this morning.
‘Distant Sky’ brings you at the core of the audience and at the core of this very unique connection that Nick Cave has with his public. If I have attended a few Nick Cave shows, and experienced this insane relationship between the frontman and his fans, this last concert, and the entire 2017 tour as a matter of fact, brought this relationship to another level. Nick Cave is probably the greatest performer alive, and I am ready to fight with anybody who is going to contradict me on this!
The setlist of the concert in Copenhague is fantastic, and not very different from any of the shows of the Bad Seeds’ 2017 tour, starting with songs of the last album ‘Skeleton Tree’, such as the grave and haunting ‘Anthrocene’, ‘Jesus Alone’, ‘Magneto’, which represent the part of the show with the least energy of this furious night, showing Nick Cave often sitting down while slowing moving his long arms. But this is just the start, and majestic Nick, even when he is sitting, is already captivating the crowd and sucking all the attention of the place with his dark croon and bright eyes.
This is the thing with a movie, if you saw them in concert and were not close to the stage, you couldn’t see all the details which are available during this movie. Warren Ellis’ hand loaded with heavy jewelry on the keys, tears coming from Nick’s eyes, the little note ‘Smoking Melting Boiling Burning’ on a crochet piece attached on the side of the piano, the large collar of Nick’s blue shirt floating on his suit during his dance moves,… There are details that may have escaped you if you were seating many feet away from the stage, but the movie blows them up on the large screen for your greatest pleasure.
Then come the stormy ones, starting with the long meandrous slow burn ‘Higgs Boson Blues’, and of course one of the first strong interaction with the crowd during ‘Can you feel my heartbeat? / I’m talking to you / My heart goes boom boom boom boom’, when a person puts his hand on Nick’s chest. There’s a lot of touching during the movie, and after ‘From Her to Eternity’ and ‘Tupelo’, there are only a few moments when Cave is not standing at the edge of the stage, leaning over the crowd. He constantly points at people’s faces, grabs their hands, and basically jumps and dances over this forest of arms like the god of the place. Everyone’s limb is stretching to him, in the hope to have this miraculous tactile exchange, which automatically triggers a pure smile of beatitude on the person’s face. I know the feeling too well.
All concert long, there is a crazy connection with the audience going on, a mix of fervor, love, adoration and violence, which only equals what I have seen at punk hardcore shows, and while Nick Cave wets his third shirt, a blue one, another blue one, a white one, the public is in awe from start to finish, and saying he nourishes a magnificent storm during ‘Red Right Hand’, or ‘Stagger Lee’ (when tons of people have already climbed on stage) would be an understatement. Cave controls the elements while his talented band builds all the moody and subtle musical loops with mourning violin lines by the incredible Warren Ellis. There are a few moments to cool down and cry with ‘Into My Arms’ and of course ‘Distant Sky’ featuring the great Danish soprano Else Torp, who arrives on stage with a surreal serenity calming a tempest… May be she is the reason why this was filmed in Copenhague.
There’s always the moment when Nick Cave sails through the crowd to miraculously reappear standing up above everyone else, while a girl sitting on her friend’s shoulders, cruises toward him and finally touches his hand in an ultimate apotheosis.
The Encore brought a large crowd on stage at Cave’s strong invite, as it was the case for every show of this tour, and the emotion level runs high among these people, who still don’t believe what’s happening. I should say that this long hug between Nick Cave and a young guy at the end of the show, had to be one of the most emotional moments of the movie, which already had plenty.
Very often a good performer carries one type of feeling during a show, but Nick Cave manages to bring a large range of emotions on stage, he actually led his audience through the entire spectrum of human emotions, during a show for which the word epic must have been invented
Higgs Boson Blues
From Her to Eternity
The Ship Song
Into My Arms
Girl in Amber
I Need You
Red Right Hand
The Mercy Seat
Distant Sky (featuring Else Torp on vocals)
The Weeping Song
Push the Sky Away
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