Nick Cave, His Stories And A Piano Command The Stage At The Pantages


When I was about 18 years old my Father brought my brother and I to see Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. I remember sitting there in a amazement as this man hit the piano and lurched around the stage with some sort of demonic energy. It was like nothing I have ever seen before. The power and complete control he had drove me to dig deeper into his catalog and side projects. Over the past few years I have done just that, so when the opportunity arose to see him again I took it. However, this tour was going to be different it was called “A Conversation with Nick Cave”. It was promoted that he would take audience member’s questions, answer them and play songs. No set list, just whatever came up that night.

As I sat down in my seat at 8:00 pm the lights went off and you could hear a poem being read by Cave himself. He then walked out and the stage lit up. There was a massive grand piano at the center and about 5 or 6 candle lit tables in the back where some lucky fans got to sit.

As Cave took his seat at the piano he flushed out the first few chords and went into “The Ship Song”. His masterful strokes and hand movement on the keys were incredible. He once again immediately commanded the stage, but this time he was doing it alone. When he got up from the piano, the lights came on and he started taking questions. He asked that no one record the conversational part so no one would have the fear of talking and ending up on the internet. One woman in the balcony asked if he could answer her question in the three words. She asked “Are you a vampire?”. Cave laughed and said “I am a vampire”. Then looked down at his hands and said “Wait, I’m a vampire.” The crowd laughed with him and cheered. 

There were a few choice names that came up during the show, one of the names was Leonard Cohen. Although, contrary to popular belief Cave said he never met Cohen, but loved everything he did. He talked about how growing up he always felt uneasiness and that when he found Cohen he could finally put a name to those feelings. Even though the two had never met Cave said he had got an email from Cohen after his son passed away that read “I’m with you brother.” It meant the world to him. Cave was asked if he would ever cover the song “Hallelujah”. That was a big no. He believes that the song has been covered to death and that he wouldn’t want to add to that pile. He said “You walk into the elevator, you hear that song!” However, Cave still did cover a Leonard Cohen song that night, he covered “Avalanche”.

The other choice name was Henry Rollins. Cave explained how he and Rollins were best friends at one point. Cave said he would be in the corner shooting up while Rollins was on the other side of the room doing push ups, casting no judgement. He described it as “a very odd relationship”. Nowadays, they don’t see each other much, Cave said he hasn’t really heard from him or seen him in about 15 years. Near the end of the show a man said that he was friends with Rollins. Rollins was just in town a few months back and they were hanging out after the show. The man said he mentioned that he was going to the Nick Cave show. Rollins promptly responded “If you get to speak to him, give him my best”. The man did just that before walking up to the stage where Cave gave him a hug. It was a truly special moment.

There were a few other questions that stood out. One was, “Where do you feel the most comfortable writing?”. Cave responded “In my office.” He then added that the office is whatever room in his house he likes that day and jokingly added “I wake up in the morning, I put my suit on, kiss my wife, then walk into the other room. 

Another person that stood out to me was a woman who spoke of her experience at a Grinderman show. She said that some creep groped her and that Cave scolded the man from the stage. Cave then in turn played the Grinderman song “Palaces of Montezuma”. I believe it was a kind gesture to create a new memory with Grinderman. I hope it worked.

Throughout the night Cave played songs such as “West Country Girl”, “Into My Arms”, “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry”, and “Stagger Lee”. One of the last questions of the night was about songs that didn’t make records and that are b-sides. Cave responded by saying “Songs I keep playing are living things”. I think that quote captures the essence of Cave’s music. His songs are alive, they’re electric really. They have more weight than most other songs on this planet. Whether it is the power and spirit of the songs or how hard he hits that piano, he captures people’s attention. He truly is a rock and roll legend. 

Before ending the show Cave sat at the piano for one more song and said “This is my favorite T-Rex song.” Then went into “Cosmic Dancer”. From the first line you could hear the audience singing softly with him “I was dancing when I was twelve”. It was a beautiful way to end an incredibly engaging night and insightful.