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Tahlia sees Nick Cave live for the first time

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Tahlia sees Nick Cave live for the first time

Andrew Ryan

Dear Casey,

This is an account of my first real Nick Cave Experience.

The first technical one was watching from outside the fence of Sydney Myer Music Bowl, back when I was spending time with a boy who liked putting needles in his arm. I drank wine. He blissed out next to me. I was drunk. I wasn’t very happy, but I kind of was, but I didn’t really see the man play.

This time tonight was more. It was More.

Self individualist crowd,
stage gobblers
~~watching a gig through
some else’s iphone

his silhouette streaming across the back of the wall behind to the side, distorted, shadow like a lanky fluid skeleton, or a sped up sloth—- body cutting through light and smoke, sight hindered by a well hairsprayed hairdo. It was a big hairdo, but it wasn’t dyed black. Ginger is okay these days. Or at least it is in Nick Cave fans who are currently in their mid to late 20’s.

Slow, glow in the dark piano paper through black light, I cough and splutter and laugh, i’ve been sickly for a few days because the weather keeps changing, I accidentally elbow the man behind me from where I sit on the back of my chair, I smile and apologise and don’t look long in his eyes,
I think he smiled too, I can’t really be sure,
my nose is quite stuffed after all (sick, remember?),
I did it another time and I tried to make sure afterwards that I would angle my arm better as I put my phone back in my pocket after writing thoughts,
I wondered if he ever peeked over my shoulder
because I totally would in his situation
but I probably wouldn’t have been smiling
fuck off screen addict etc
and that’s the thing, there was one point early on in the set where almost every human in front of me had their smartphones held above their heads.
And then later when the couple that instigated a fight (fell in to me and a.moon which caused much annoyance) because they tried to push to the front and the guy they pushed said “YOU’RE RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE” and grabbed their throats, and their yelling could be heard clearly from higher up in the rows of building
—- apparently the sound was great up there, the building was designed for it, not like cubical galleries or bedrooms, but like, actually built on the inside for sound, textures, rising,

rousing piano soars with that same soar vocal, build, big,
but not big enough
distraction
the screams of a man wanting attention for his friends’ birthday—-
and i’m reminded of cosi’s story
about watching nick cave
an older woman screaming
“I WANNA SUCK YOUR COCK NICK CAVE”
over and over
I wish I could see his face
and not just the hands of the humans reaching for his crotch

and that fight, what a shit thing.
The crowd around ganged up, even after they’d chilled out when the security guards first left. The couple were fiending, the crowd around was not having a bar of it. Some one behind us to the right shouted “YOU’RE RUINING EVERYONE ELSE’S SHOW”
and that’s when I realised that every set of eyes owns what it sees::

What looks like red velvet curtains
purple light streaming
yellow tungsten lightbulbs

and then
in Mercy Seat the curtains were black/grey velvet and there still sat the yellow tungstenz, suspended like fairy lights on the bow of a hipster wedding tree.

The thing that always strikes me with Nick is how naff I find any religious references. I actually hate it. Sometimes i’m a bit embarrassed by it. An ex-lover (the one I played the black angels to for the first time) once said that same thing to me about Shellac’s “prayer to god” and I have never, ever felt that with that song, maybe the heaviness and the perfect timing distract me from the discomfort attached to the fact that he says “to the one true god above” but like, it’s not like he’s actually praying, he’s just referencing that it isn’t uncommon to “pray” in an emotionally intense situation, like the one described in the song, it’s badass,
but
that ain’t the same as half of nick cave’s lyrics from earlier days including religious imagery and symbolism or whatever, and it being legitimately the only way he could express the stuff, all those silly words

anita lane and blixa bargeld wrote the words to the Best Bad Seeds song.
In my opinion.

But— the devil is such an easy character. The story is such easy narrative. His new work mentions god, but I haven’t noticed the devil in it anymore. Thank fuck. “The devil” is now lazy story telling.
In my opinion.

Months and months ago, I wrote a thing about nick cave, something about the legacy he and his mates left on the alleyways of this city, its innercity suburbs, the bathrooms and bedrooms of the houses in it: I wondered if he was aware of it now. I wonder how his son, Jethro, is doing now. Where he is— last I heard he was somewhere I wasn’t— how he’s doin’? What he’s doin’? Is he OK?

There was a meat-head to the left of us for most of the show, muscle man short hair tight white t-shirt, arms stretched onto the seats in front of where he was standing, concerned head banging to In To My Arms like it was a stripped back November Rain.

Man.
That’s exactly what that song is.

November rain. It never ends in Melbourne. Never forget.

Until next time,

xxxT