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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

I was 15 when Peter Møller lent me The Boatman's Call, thereby introducing me to Nick Cave and severely impacting my taste in music. I am, of course, eternally grateful.

When (thank you, Are) informed me that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were playing at The Edinburgh Corn Exchange on November 26, I consequently threw all thoughts of saving my money for food out the window and immediately set out to get tickets together with Tim and Rebekah (well, I got them to order the tickets -- I haven't actually given them the money yet).

The Corn Exchange, as it turns out, is far away from anywhere I have ever ventured before. Edinburgh is bigger than I generally think it is.

We weren't quite sure whether the venue was small or large -- it felt large to me, but Rebekah assured me it was small. And the floor was sticky (scarily so: I tried to move out of the way for a man, and almost fell over because my feet were stuck). Still, we did a lot of the giddy jumping-clapping and exclaiming "we are going to see Nick Cave". I know some of you are already sniggering, thinking something along the lines of "weeeell, I don't know whether Camilla would actually see anything at all, as most of the world is twice as tall as her". And, well, you are right. But I'll get back to that.

First: the warm-up band, Joe Gideon & The Shark ... what can I say? The words repetitive, monotonous and derivative come to mind. They did try. But there are limits to how many times you can repeat "the tidal wave sees you" before it gets silly. And they kept insisting (over and over and over and over) that "if you love something that much, you will see it again", which is patently ridiculous logic. There was one song, about a painter and arsonist, which seemed to have potential, but the potential lay in the lyrics, which were drowned out by the guitar and the drums. And the playback bits. Anyhoo...


He rocks my world. He has silly hair and a scary mustache; he still manages to look cool. The man has serious style -- he is quite possibly the only person alive (or dead) who can make the tambourine look like the hottest instrument around. He has stage presence that should make a Broadway musical crew weep with envy. He has energy that could probably power a small country for a couple of years. I rave. I gush. And yet, I don't feel that I do him credit.

He is also a tall man. This helps when you are a shortish person hemmed in by inconsiderate tall people who insist on standing directly in front of you.

And he wore a waistcoat. I do not know whether that is relevant, but I thought I should bring it up.

I freely confess that I did not recognise all the songs, but he did at least sing the following:

Mercy Seat and Deanna, from Tender Prey -- the latter after one of the numerous requests from the audience -- Scottish people apparently have a different attitude to concerts than what I have experienced before: it must be said that half the time I did not understand what they were shouting, but it did seem like a couple of them tried to get a conversation started.
The Weeping Song and The Ship Song, from The Good Son. I am not one to complain when Nick Cave wants to sing "The Weeping Song", but I admit I was apprehensive because of the lack of Blixa Bargeld's exquisite vocals (any voice that makes Nick Cave's seem ... normal ... well, what can I say?). But it went quite well. In fact, allowing for my resistance to change, I'd say it was very good. "The Ship Song" was an audience request (Scottish audiences are persistent), and seemed to come as a surprise on everyone. And it did not really fit, being too slow for the set. But I do not complain. I love that song.
Stagger Lee, from Murder Ballads.
Tupelo, from The Firstborn is Dead.
Hard on for Love, from Your Funeral ... My Trial.
Red Right Hand, from Let Love In. I love "Red Right Hand". I love it. Now imagine Nick Cave slithering across the stage (in a waistcoat) while singing it. I had shivers down my spine -- quite an achievement considering it was so hot in that all my clothes were soaked when we left, and clapping was as much a way of creating air-flow as showing appreciation at one point (I am not saying we were not big on the showing appreciation -- quite the contrary).
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! and We Call Upon the Author to Explain, from Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!. Both brilliant. Especially the latter. It is like punk rock with added irony. Or a different type of irony, or in different measure. Oh, I don't know. I know I like. Both. My enjoyment was not impaired by the woman in front of me leaning on me. Well, it may have been, but I was all the happier when my passive warfare of sticking my elbow in her back drove her away.
Nature Boy, from Abattoir Blues, and The Lyre of Orpheus, from The Lyre of Orpheus. Well, those are really the same album, aren't they? Joined at the hip, as it were?

I suppose I need not warn you that links are dangerous, and old music videos can severely impair your ability to enjoy the music. I suggest you click the link and listen to it with your eyes closed. Or better yet: buy the album(s).

All in all, I admit it would take a lot for me not to be happy with a Nick Cave concert. I was already so high on endorphins simply from the idea of it, that even the shoddy warm-up band and the 20 minute wait between them and the good stuff; the tall people everywhere standing in my way and moving about whenever I had finally fond a crack in the masses to look through; the sticky floor; the physical pain in my knees and back from carrying a heavy bag and a heavy coat (yes, I'm an idiot, I brought a heavy bag and a heavy coat) and standing up for four hours in a hot room with no oxygen -- none of this, really managed to dampen my enthusiasm for this concert.

And from what I could tell, I was not the only one. We spent what felt like ten minutes clapping to get them back on stage after they left the first time. I don't think I am exaggerating. I couldn't tell whether they were playing really hard to get, or simply didn't want to come back on because they were exhausted. At any rate, they did come back. All was good in the world.

Well worth the time and money. Who needs food, anyway? Obesity is a growing epidemic, I hear.


Tor,  27.11.08 23:18

Articles like this makes me wonder if my intense dislike of concerts of the no-sit-down-variety is an inherent trait of my personality, or simply a result of a lack of trying. I suppose I shall have to try some more to know for sure.

Also, is there something wrong with me if I generally liked the music videos, even though I whatched them with my eyes open?

Are,  28.11.08 00:26

Great review. And quite amusing to read English writings from you, Camilla.

Concerts are awesome. And I have to say I have problems dealing with the no-stand-up-variety, since I have difficulty standing still when listening to live music I really enjoy. A couple of weeks ago, I the pleasure of attending Aimee Mann (with The Submarines doing the warm-up) at Rockefeller - great stuff. The Submarines were a very nice surprise. Take a listen at

And in a week or so, I'm going back to Rockefeller for a Di Derre concert, and I'll definitely be moving around and singing along quite a lot!

Tor, I believe you have cultivated an image of yourself as the gentlemanly type for whom it is simply not natural to jump around at concerts and sing along loudly in a raucous manner. If that's what you really are like, I don't know... ;)

Camilla,  28.11.08 00:45

Here is the Scotsman review of it (thank you, Rebekah).

Tor: You should love this kind of concert: you are tall enough, I am sure. And if you come along, I'll let you carry my heavy bag for me. And while I tried to pick the more sensible-looking music videos, there is probably something wrong with you, anyway.

Are: I have written plenty English here. Just look at this, or this or this. Generally, I try to write in English when friends of mine who do not know Norwegian participated in what I am writing about. The LotR film marathon and the St. Andrews trip being exceptions (I see in retrospect). Di Derre are still playing? I am somewhat surprised, somewhat intrigued. Also: why are you not writing about these concerts you go to here?

Camilla,  28.11.08 03:10

Also, did I mention there was a whole audience participation sing-along at "The Lyre of Orpheus"? Think of that, if you will.

Karoline,  30.11.08 13:30

Camilla, I love you.

Camilla,  30.11.08 14:16


Are,  30.11.08 22:18

Camilla, it is intriguing how people seem different (or the same - in a different fashion) when they use a different language. Of course, that goes for both spoken and written language, and isn't really surprising, but I guess it says something about how the personalities we think we know are the personalities as expressed by language, and not really people's personalities in themselves.

Of course Di Derre are still playing! I'll write up a review after next week's concert :)

Tor,  30.11.08 23:06

Hah! That'll be the day.

Camilla,  30.11.08 23:13

I do have a tendency to write more formally when writing Norwegian, I know that. English seems to lend itself better to informality. It may just be that I read it more. Who knows. But I think you are right. Language matters.

I also vote we institute some sort of penalty for promising articles and/or comments that are not delivered. Having to provide chocolate or other goodness for the rest of the crowd.

Article would be good.

Sverre,  01.12.08 08:55

But....both Camilla and Are sound way more formal when writing English. I think most people who's English is pretty good to begin with try to class it up too much, or do an interesting mix of formal and informal. I guess it's like Hollywood actors doing British accents - they go through four classes of society in one sentence.

Kjellove,  01.12.08 13:22


(Except the whose-error.)

Sverre,  01.12.08 13:50

I know... But throwing stones in glass houses is my favourite hobby!

Camilla,  01.12.08 13:55

But that is the beauty of English, as I see it. It works. I can't do that in Norwegian.

Sverre,  01.12.08 14:29

I'm not following.

Camilla,  01.12.08 14:48

The potential for combining formal and informal without jarring.

Sverre,  01.12.08 15:14

What I take from that is that you believe that Norwegian doesn't have that potential. I couldn't disagree more. To back me up: any article in here written by Anders K. And now that I think about it, you're not too bad yourself.

Camilla,  01.12.08 15:42

Not at all. I am just saying that I find it harder to do that in Norwegian.

Sverre,  01.12.08 15:51

Fair enough!

Are,  01.12.08 16:08

Funnily enough, I don't find Camilla more formal in English - I do find you more formal, however.

I think it's in the eye of the beholder, to a degree.

Kjellove,  01.12.08 19:40


Sverre,  02.12.08 08:27

Hjaja, ska gi de in the eye of the beholder, i.

Kjellove,  02.12.08 12:54

Det er noe som heter å være mer katolsk enn paven, og da tenker jeg ikke på belgiere.

Johannes,  03.12.08 00:03

Hehe. Jeg ler! Her er det litt fristende å være eplekjekk og si "Kjeften!"

Nei jeg synes nok engelsken her ser fryktelig formell ut, men grunnen til at jeg sier det er jo at jeg er av den oppfatning at uformelt språk er slang og halv-"ukurante" ord man stort sett ikke ville benyttet i skriftlig kommunikasjon.

I spennet mellom de fiktive motpolene "absolutt uformelt språk" og "absolutt formelt språk" står det helt klart for meg at det meste som er skrevet av engelsk på denne siden er godt over midta på sida som ender i "absolutt formelt"-polen.

Og for å være passe kjedsommelig diplomatisk til slutt: Jojomenn! Det kommer nok an på øyet som ser (og vedkommendes referanseramme).

Anders K.,  03.12.08 00:46

Uttrykk som "thereby" og "ventured" er mer formelle enn uformelle, i den forstand at muntlig er de oftere i bruk på teater enn hjemme hos folk. Sånn sett finner jeg dette en smule stivt. Men dette her er jo tross alt skriftlig kommunikasjon, og skal det gå den ene eller andre veien, foretrekker jeg dette. Det motsatte ville vært å stave på cockney eller noe slikt, og dét er i hvert fall verdensrekord innen kunstige påfunn.

Kjellove,  03.12.08 16:19

Tenk deg at du er nordmann og en engelskspråklig dude begynner å snakke om «nødtørftigheter» og «Deres kvinnes benklæder».

Camilla,  09.01.09 15:27

Jeg beklager virkelig at jeg åpner denne diskusjonen igjen, men jeg tør påstå at enkeltord ikke er hva som gjør språk formelt. Ta Wodehouse. Rent bortsett fra de helt sprø forkortelsene Wooster benytter består språket stort sett av meget "formelle" enkeltord. Kombinasjonen ville man imidlertid aldri kalle formell.

Kjellove,  09.01.09 15:52

Men også en hel del høyst uformelle enkeltord. Skriv gjerne som Bertie Wooster om du ønsker å fremstå som (i Jeeves' ord) «mentally negligible».

Camilla,  09.01.09 15:56

Det er nettopp for å unngå det jeg ikke bruker ord som "posish".

Tor,  09.01.09 16:02

If it were not for quotations, conversation between gentlemen would consist of an endless succession of "What ho"s.

Kjellove,  09.01.09 16:07

It's like the story about that chap who said something or the other about this thing.