In the hallowed halls of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, a captivating evening of music would forever change my musical tastes. Nick Cave, the enigmatic and revered icon of alt rock music, graced the legendary stage alongside Radiohead bassist, Colin Greenwood. After the first song “Girl In Amber”, Nick Cave would take a moment to address the crowd. He would explain that this was no ordinary concert; it was a stripped-down, intimate affair and he needed the audience to actively listen and ponder the songs and the poetic meanings behind them. While he wanted them to obviously enjoy themselves, he wanted them to engage with the music and allow it to touch their lives in ways that other fans wouldn’t be able to fully understand. He wanted it to be a personal experience for everyone in attendance. In a strange way it reminded me of the beginning of the Disney classic Fantasia, when the conductor instructs the viewers on how to properly digest what would be unfolding next.
Cave, seated at a grand piano for the entirety of the show, seemed larger than life with his mesmerizing presence. His deep, baritone vocals resonated through the auditorium, imbuing each song with a profound sense of emotion. In some ways it felt like poetry reading as songs like “Higgs Boson Blues’, “The Mercy Seat” and “Idiot Prayer” felt deeper and more profound being displayed in such a manner. As the duo delved into a repertoire spanning Cave’s illustrious career, you could feel the audience transported on a journey through love, loss, faith, and despair. Cave’s lyrics, as poignant as ever, were delivered with a searing intensity that left no one untouched. In my opinion I felt much more connected to the music as he sang each word out. It allowed me to feel a deeper connection to him and even after the show I found myself looking up the lyric sheets and thinking about the meanings behind them; something I had never experienced while listening to his music before.
Greenwood’s understated virtuosity complemented Cave’s vocals perfectly, creating a soundscape that was both haunting and beautiful. I heard someone in the audience remark that anyone could have played bass for this show because hardly anyone noticed him but I completely disagree. I heard every single note of his instrument and I hope that going forward he continues to join Nick Cave on solo tours. After two beautiful encores the show was sadly concluded.
This was a concert that will linger in my memory long after the final notes have faded away.
I don’t think I will ever listen to a Nick Cave song the same way ever again. I truly hope he decides to release a live album based off of this tour!