Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Live at KCRW – album review

Cover artNick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Live at KCRW (Mute)

CD / LP / DL

Due Out  2nd December 2013

9/10

2013 has been a remarkable year for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The question is; how do you top a year that has had so many highs? Well, how about releasing a live album?

2013 has been a remarkable year for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. In February they released one of their finest albums ever by the name of Push The Sky Away. Come June and Nick and his band were destroying the main stage at Glastonbury, with the highlight being one of the most mesmerising versions of Stagger Lee ever. To top it all, he brought his latest tour to the UK with a spellbinding performance in Manchester, and a duet with Kylie in London for the forthcoming film; 20,000 Days On Earth.

And now they’ve released this live album.

Live albums by nature divide opinion. Some love them, some hate them. Some could be seen as quite lazy releases to make a few more pennies, but some live albums are a pivotal part of a band’s discography.

This release from the Bad Seeds will not form a pivotal part of their discography, however the collection is a fabulous snapshot of where Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are at, at this moment in time.

Live from KCRW hosts ten songs (twelve on LP) that are played in a seemingly more stripped back fashion and were recorded for a radio session in America. Much of the collection is made up of material from Push The Sky Away. Higgs Boson Blues opens the album with its dreamy guitar line and vocal harmonies. Other tracks from this year’s album include Wide Lovely Eyes, Mermaids and the albums quite magnificent, organ led title track. All of these songs are worthy of greatness within Cave’s humongous back catalogue.

In addition to these newer songs there are some rare performances of tracks that aren’t usually staples of the Bad Seeds live sets. Stranger Than Kindness from 1986’s Your funeral my trial is suitably gothic in the way Cave delivers the vocal. One of Cave’s set mainstays; The Mercy Seat, is beautifully transformed into a despairing piano led opus that takes on a completely new life. Cave’s singing of The Mercy Seat is absolutely perfect. The pleas and themes in the song are far starker and the violin backing is heartbreakingly emotional.

 

Material from 1997s The Boatman’s Call is rife on Live from KRCW. Far From Me is set off again by Warren Ellis’ haunting violin playing and People Ain’t No Good is a song for the ages. The narrative lyric is soul searching and filled with bleak imagery that only Nick Cave is capable of. On the LP version of the album, Into My Arms is included. By Cave’s own admission, Into My Arms is one of the songs he is most proud of. It is a beautifully melancholy piece that like People Ain’t No Good, offers hope in the end. Again, it’s a master stroke of writing from Cave, who can rightfully take his place next to Cohen and Dylan as one of the finest songwriters ever.

The make up of the band lends itself to the material from The Boatman’s Call well. This band formation also lends itself well to the piano led material from …And No More Shall We Part with the title track included on the CD release and God Is In The House on the LP release. A rather raucous version of Jack The Ripper from Henry’s Dream closes the album. Again, Cave’s lyrical delivery is sinister and menacing with the band ably assisting on backing vocal duties to enhance the mood.

Live From KCRW is a must for any Bad Seeds fan; especially anyone who has experienced the band this year. They are on a roll at the moment and everything they touch seemingly turns to gold. This is a stupendously good bookend to one of the finest years the band has ever experienced.

‘Live from KCRW’ album track listing:

  • 1.   Higgs Boson Blues
  • 2.   Far From Me
  • 3.   Stranger Than Kindness
  • 4.   The Mercy Seat
  • 5.   And No More Shall We Part
  • 6.   Wide Lovely Eyes
  • 7.   Mermaids
  • 8.   People Ain’t No Good
  • 9.   Into My Arms (limited vinyl only)
  • 10. God Is In The House (limited vinyl only)
  • 11. Push The Sky Away
  • 12. Jack The Ripper

~
 

Find Nick Cave’s Website is here.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are also on Twitter as  @ncandtbs, Facebook and Youtube.

All words by Dom Walsh. You can read more from Dom at his author’s archive here. Dom also tweets as @bwfcdom83.

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2 comments on “Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Live at KCRW – album review”

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  1. Stranger than Kindness is from Your Funeral My Trial not Murder Ballads

  2. Excellent review,Dominic, you’ve almost talked me into listening to it.

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