Nick Cave has worn a lot of hats in his time.
First tasting fame as the media-baiting enfant terrible frontman of The Birthday Party, Cave has been by turns a walking hairspray advert, a punk-rock William Faulkner, a pouty music-mag pinup, a Serious Songwriter, a has-been, a comeback kid, and just about everything else.
In his latest incarnation – a Tom Jones for the ex-goth set – Cave has taken the campiness which has haunted his thirty-year musical career, and learned to play it to the hilt. It works. Leaving a trail of lost shirt buttons and lost hair, the Seeds spent 2008 touring behind a mediocre album – this year’s slightly anemic Dig, Lazarus, Dig – which Cave’s sleaze-king stage persona infused with a new vivacity.
This particular performance (unfortunately not from September’s spectacular show at the Riviera) sees Cave & Co. tearing through Tender Prey-era standard “Deanna” in top form. Much of this can be chalked up to the Seeds, especially violinist Warren Ellis, whose fiddle-mutilating histrionics have made him the Seed to watch in the absence of ex-guitarist Blixa Bargeld.
But Cave is still the star of his own show: singing and hipshaking his way across the stage like he’s been hooked up to a car battery. Cave makes sure that mic stands, lyric sheets, and tambourines spend more time in the air than on the stage. Where bands like the Rolling Stones seem like shadows of their former selves, wheezing through the five thousandth performance of “Satisfaction”, the fifty-plus-year-old Cave may actually have outstripped the sullen, junk-addled twenty-something who penned this song.
I’d trade my hair for that.
“Deena” (Live in Stockholm – 05/17/2008)