There were months of anticipation for this historic event. Longtime fans were in a frenzy. And by the time the night was upon this little mountain town, it seemed surreal. Adults giddy as children on Christmas morning crowded into the sold-out Orange Peel, speculating with each other over which favorite songs they might hear.
When this cast of iconic figures finally assembled onstage, fans began accepting the reality, and the applause and screams were deafening. They immediately launched into a quiet ballad “We Know Who UR”, the opening track from the newest album. Following that was a somber cut. “Jubilee St.”, is a heart-wrenching criticism of hypocrisy, and the best lyrics Cave has written in quite a while. Two more songs from “Push the Sky Away” followed. The beautiful, crawling “Wide Lovely Eyes” and the dirty “Higgs Boson Blues”.
The reality of what followed is still being questioned by uber-fans. The band catapulted into “From Her to Eternity,” the title cut The Bad Seeds’ 1984 debut album, made famous in Wim Wenders film, “Wings of Desire.” Considering the first few delicate songs, this sonic assault felt as heavy and brutal as Cave’s earlier work in “The Birthday Party”. And with this, his signature gesticulating and pelvic thrusting began, as if a hybrid of a Pentecostal minister, a wild animal, a lunatic and the devil himself.
Afterwards there was an hour-long string of classics that played out like a story book. Highlights were “Red Right Hand,” “The Mercy Seat,” “The Weeping Song” and “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry.” The uproarious “Stagger Lee” was well … staggering, a violent yet comedic version that no one present will ever forget.
The encore started with a classic crowd favorite “Tupelo” and ended with “Push the Sky Away,” the closing track from the latest album. That final gift to the audience was an inspirational and hopeful tune, reminding us all to never give up.
This was an unforgettable night for all present. We were honored to witness a legendary and classy group of musicians give their all, as they’ve done each show for 30 years, living up to the lyrics of their most recent song:
“You’ve got to just
Keep on pushing
Keep on pushing
Push the sky away
And some people
Say it’s just rock’n roll
Oh, but it gets you
Right down to your soul.”
Read more of Ballard’s writing at http://thenomadicsubject.blogspot.com.
A few photos from John Zara:
Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.
Sharon Van Etten opened the show.