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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Brixton Academy May 5th 2001

Last time Kitten was in the presence of Lord Cave and his Bad Seeds was at the Royal Festival Hall, where a crowd of ageing, well-behaved ex-goths (some not so ex) rose as one and stood respectfully to attention for 'Tupelo'. It feels a lot more 'giggy' tonight in Brixton, although Mr Cave is always rather theatrical, striding the boards in a vaudevillian manner. Dressed in an immaculate black three-piece suit with a spotty tie, he's lit so he throws giant pointy-fingered shadows onto the Academy walls looming over the audience like the spooky puppet in that Metz advert. No pink cashmere pullovers tonight as modelled by Nick a few years ago at the Albert Hall. The Bad Seeds are all looking menacingly sleek; a group of men who have earned the right to wear suits. Nick is the master of ceremonies, commanding the stage with fist clenching and head shaking (or is it fist shaking and head clenching?) although sadly no knee-drops tonight. That's about the only sign that we're watching a 40-odd father of three here, Nick Cave is cooler than a very cool thing wearing Jason Reece's cowboy hat.

Monkey boy's legs
As I Sat Sadly By Her Side' starts things off, and like the other songs from the new album played tonight, comes to life with a ferocious warmth that sounds more passionate and less contained than on record. All the songs tonight are ravishing; we're treated to a soul-stirring selection from across the years. 'Red Right Hand' all pantomime villainy and crashing chimes is a chaotic contrast to contemplative songs like 'Love Letter' and 'Lime Tree Arbour' played by Nick sitting at the piano like an old crooner. Then there are moments when the whole band and audience gets swept away together on wave upon thunderous wave of fervent sound, 'Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow' and (Kitten fave) 'Do You Love Me?' We get party-pleasers, 'Papa Won't Leave You, Henry', which sounds almost jaunty enough to turn into a full-on knees-up, and the wonderful Blixa-enhanced 'Weeping Song'.
Finally, shivers down the spine all round please for 'The Mercy Seat', which begins with the band sitting down as tension is left to build with violin bow flourishes. Obviously it sounds devastating.
The flock bleats loudly for more, then more again and is rewarded by a third and final encore which includes the incongruous sight of a man in a sensible jumper standing with his back to the audience, Nick throwing him the occasional glance. It takes us a while to work out that jumper-man is holding up cue boards 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' stylee for Nick to cop the lyrics. On the tube home we get stuck in a tunnel, due, as the driver informs us, to 'some kind of punch-up'. An impromptu discussion starts up amongst gig-goers. Everyone is thrilled although it's decided the cue boards were 'a bit Richard & Judy'. Now that really is sinister.
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