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.
Thanks for reading through to the end…
We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.
We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.
Before you comment
The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.