20 August 2014

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Live From KCRW

I love live albums; I think that was evident when I got the team to participate in an ultimate live album blog last year.  When they are done properly, they can be truly amazing; this one though is a live radio recording for the American radio station KCRW.  It was recorded on 18 April 2013 in Los Angeles to a live studio audience, it was done as part of the promotion for the latest Bad Seeds album at the time - 'Push The Sky Away' (cleverly linked here).  Now, the album is not a straight performance of that album as it does have songs from other works; so it is an interesting document of the band performing in a different situation to their normal live show.  It is also the fourth live record released by Mr Cave and his evil saplings. So let’s see how this performance stands up to the rest of his work.

Starting with "Higgs Boson Blues", the band are stripped down to the bones, they also slow down the song to the version from 'Push The Sky Away'.  It feels more desolate than the bar which is situated at the end of the world, it just drives on without mercy or care; you are carried on this harrowing tale towards oblivion and you just don't care.  When it sounds this good, there is no need to care at all; it is just a brilliant opening to this album.  Next is "Far From Me" which was originally off 'The Boatman's Call' (again, cleverly linked as it has been review by us).  Much like the original, the sorrow is on show.  However, unlike Modern Baseball there is no amateur hour temper tantrums; it is just sublime lyrical subtly that will have grown men crying softly as they realise that they are missing their true loves, even if that person is in the same room as them. Next is "Stranger Than Kindness" which was originally off the album 'Your Funeral....My Trial'.  It is not an album I have given much time to if I am honest, but on this album they have stripped the song down to the bones.  Also they have changed the guitar tone slightly, which works for the better.  After this song there is the most harrowing version of "The Mercy Seat" I have ever heard.  I always thought the version off 'Live Seeds' was the ultimate version; this is just dark.  The lights are out and the guilty man has the sack over his head; it is without redemption or pity, the mourning is falling on to the ears of the dead....I love this version, it changes the classic in a way that shows it in a different light - just sublime.

After this is "And No More Shall We Part" which is the title track of the Bad Seeds eleventh album.  This is not the strongest song to follow after "The Mercy Seat", but I can see why it was put on.  It is incredibly mellow and reserved; it gives the audience a rest bite from the emotional roller coaster that they had just been on.  The next song though, I am not too sure of this version.  The song is "Wide Lovely Eyes", which is off 'Push The Sky Away'.  Now the original is a minimal opus that sounds like a dream of the dead, full of peace and remembrance; this version with its heavy handed piano just sounds messy, it does not work with the guitar and keys clashing in a sea of chaos that does not work with the set so far.  "Mermaids" from the same album though works much better, the clashing chaos is absent from the song and the song transcends from its original; there are now two perfect versions of this song in the world.

Next is "People Ain't No Good", a song that was covered by Tom Waits on the second Shrek film and is originally off 'The Boatman's Call'.  This would have been a hard song to get wrong in this setting and the band just nail it here.  The stripped back performance is beautiful and well worth the price of the album alone.  But the next song "Push The Sky Away" is the crowning jewel of this album.  This song is quite possibly the best song the band has ever written, for me it is that good.  It is one of the darkest of the band's career and on this stripped down album, they have took the minimal opener of their latest album and bared it to the world as a naked emotion to bare the will of men.  If the album had have ended there, I would have been happy, but it does not.  It ends with "Jack The Ripper" which was originally on 'Henry's Dream' (again, cleverly linked) and the band all play here.  It ends on a high note of passion, bile and spite that is the songs' original intent. 

This is a great live album from the band, it does have a couple of tracks which didn't work; but in this situation sometimes you try something and it doesn't quite work.  It is not the most essential of the live works by Sir Cave and his evil flowers, but it is a worthwhile addition to any fan of their work.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

Top track - Push The Sky Away

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds website here

Saying as it was recorded for the KCRW radio station; here is a link for them

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for our Deezer users

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