Nick Cave’s Rebirth
Nick Cave in West Berlin, 1985 – Ph. Bleddyn Butcher
Text Andrea Dusio
A trapeze artist lives in a camper van. The circus is moving to another city and she dances alone after her training in that narrow space, thinking about the years flowing by with her dreams. She listens to a song about a charlatan moving with his curious caravan behind, a dog-boy, three dwarves, little monsters and hired hands, a nag with a hump named Sorrow and a bird-girl, flapping and squawking around. The song is The Carny, and it seems to come from an old Europe shaft, pervaded by a gloomy accordion, the organ touches upon a gospel and the xylophone pins it to a Brechtian drama. This is how Nick Cave appears, from the grooves of a disc played in Der Himmel über Berlin (The sky over Berlin). We are in 1987 and his name still goes round little conventicles, the insane idea of reinventing Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker’s blues inside the metallic armour of a vigorous post-punk music machine, warped and full of glares like crashed instruments. The debut disc of his band, the Bad Seeds, is entitled From her to eternity, a spoiling of Fred Zinnemann’s drama. His face is branded in the cover, a face with frightful sunken features, a junkie in his final stage. The sound is claustrophobic, as it may be conceived by a group of Australian defectors amidst AlexanderPlatz’s kiosks. Style will find its perfect form with Tender Prey (1989), a disc that leaves the Eighties definitely behind. New cover, new face. Nick seems to be a bit chubbier, but he has a scar on his face, perhaps due to a pusher’s blade. And then he moves to Brazil, marries a designer and with The Good Son (1990) he invents a sort of crepuscular and sentimental song. He does not dwell on metallic blues anymore, yet Baroque candlesticks style ballades performed with pianos-rafts always on the point of sinking. His art becomes less essential, as an attempt to protect himself from life. He specializes in torch-song, like the Pre-Raphaelite Where the wild rose grow, with Kylie Minogue. But the best performance is achieved with his whispered discs, pronounced like psalms, in which he explores anguish religiousness, like in Boatman’s Call. Like the song monuments of the past century, from Dylan to Cohen, sometimes it seems that he nearly plays the role of a preacher, getting lost within the thought of God, this often happens to those who hang out with heroine. But life reserves him the hardest trial: in 2015 his son Arthur dies, after having fallen from a cliff close to Brighton. Skeleton Tree, the work released in 2016, is actually a requiem, and it could not have been otherwise. You should have the fortitude of listening to it. And now here are these concerts, tonight in Milan and on 8th November in Rome, they will be like a hug, trying to hold together all the parts of the man and the musician, without oppressing him with destiny.
06 November 2017, 9:00pm
Via G. di Vittorio, 6 – Assago (Milan)
08 November 2017, 9:00pm
Piazzale dello Sport, zona EUR – Rome