Dig Lazarus

Excuse me if I appear to not be listening to you today. You see, my ears are ringing louder than usual following one of the best rock and roll performances I've experienced in my lifetime. Forget all our sophisticated talk of arts and culture. Forget about putting the arts back in our public schools. How about a RACC grant program that will ensure that every child has access to rock and roll?

The wall of sound produced by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Crystal Ballroom jackhammered the room when they kicked the show off with "Night of the Lotus Eaters." I knew immediately that earplugs would have been an appropriate fashion accessory (especially with a spot close to the stage), but isn't hearing loss an inevitable part of aging?

Which reminds me that it was Nick Cave's birthday last night. "Yeah, it's my motherf**king birthday. I'm disgracefully old." He just turned 51--a mere two months younger than me, proving that you're never too old to rock and roll. (His 1970's porn star mustache, agile kicks and enduring energy bely his age).

Cave and his five bandmates played a raft of favorites: from the bouncy "Dig Lazarus Dig" (see below) to the foreboding "Mercy Seat" and sinister "Red Right Hand." Most of the tunes were delivered in a roar, with two drummers pounding away and musical companion Warren Ellis (looking like Rasputin) sawing and banging on an overamped violin or a four-string mandocaster generating feedback worthy of Jimi Hendrix. While that rendered much of Cave's otherwise intelligent lyrics unintelligible, the overall effect was wholly appropriate, and the packed crowd at the Crystal went nuts. Cave can certainly deliver screaming punk attitude in spades, yet his charismatic showmanship shined throughout. He creates a real connection with the audience, pumping the crowd up like we were at a holy-roller revival show. Hallelujah!

Cave closed the show with his swaggering, profane "Stagger Lee" -- too obscene to post on a cultured blog site such as this. Instead, here's the official video of "Dig Lazarus Dig."

UPDATE: Carrie Brownstein (ex-Sleater Kinney) has a much better review of the concert on her NPR blog.

UPDATE #2: Portland's Dave Allen (ex-Gang of Four) has a video from the concert posted on his site Pampelmoose.

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