Last Night: Grinderman at Great American

Categories: Music

(Nick Cave on Live on Later)

July 26, 2007
Great American Music Hall
Better Than:
Um, only seeing Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds?

Since hearing the first note of Nick Cave’s garage punk outfit Grinderman, I realized this was the record I wish the Stooges had made. But while Iggy Pop’s latest platter lacked lasting sentiment in place of going-through-the-motions punk, Cave’s Grinderman lives up to the first part of his moniker. The music on Grinderman is all rage and recklessness and restlessness and bruised-ribbed balladry and defiance and lust and death. Live, and housed in the faded elegance of the Great American, it was transcendent rock ‘n’ roll only a man with Cave’s years and flair for the dramatic could deliver.

Grinderman reunites Cave with members of the Bad Seeds, and together they churned out some truly nasty noise. Cave was a consummate preacher, curling over into the crowd when he was testifying, smacking the mic hard against his palms, and relaying the Biblical story of Joseph and Jesus fleeing to Egypt that became the song “Honey Bee (Let’s Fly to Mars)”. Half his band looked like Charles Manson, and these hairy devils strained and smacked their instruments with a ferocity befitting the ghoulish mood dictated by Grinderman’s songs. The group picked its debut album clean, and the most lascivious numbers (“No Pussy Blues,” “Get It On,”) snarled even louder live. That said, even Cave’s somber song about losing his father (“Man in the Moon,”) slowed the tempo but not the adrenaline, as with most of Cave’s music deep loss and fervent release are tightly intertwined.

For the encore, Cave announced that the band had “run out of Grinderman songs, but we do have some Bad Seeds songs,” which sent the crowd further into a frenzy. From there he launched into “Red Right Hand,” “The Ship Song,” and “Deanna,” and he brought out former Bad Seed/Einstürzende Neubauten’s Blixa Bargeld for “The Weeping Song.” Of course this wasn’t a one-encore kinda night, so after a rousing, foot-stomping, hand-smacking call for Grinderman to return a second time, the band tore through the Bad Seeds’ “Jack the Ripper.” With that they closed out the night with yet another love song, Nick Cave style, full of butcher’s knives and poison teeth and vipers hissing in the floorboards.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I have a thing for crowds comprising men in dapper suit jackets and ladies all dolled up in vintage dresses. Sharpest looking audience I’ve seen in a long time.
Random Detail: Davey Havok from AFI (or at least a very convincing doppelganger) was at the show, along with members of a hundred other local acts influenced by Cave in one way or another.
By the way: Tonight Grinderman plays Slim’s. Tickets to that show are beyond sold out. If you can’t get in to see Cave live, consider renting the grizzled Australian western he wrote a couple years back, The Proposition. It’s a beautifully dark film about good vs. evil, morality and family, and the lengths a hardened cowboy will go to save a sibling.--Jennifer Maerz

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