Nick Cave Rocks the State Theatre

 

Last Thursday night the Historic State Theatre became a rock ‘n’ roll church for punks with blue mohawks, Goth chicks with thigh-high boots and middle-aged men in Vikings sweatshirts. Wearing a green velvet suit coat and black dress pants, Nick Cave sermonized to the crowd as he gestured wildly with his arms and legs. He preached impassioned, focusing on playing the crowd.

Cave kicked off his set with the haunting “As I Sat Sadly By Your Side,” and continued the rest of the set with themes of religion (Cave’s own brand, of course), enduring love, and murder. Sometimes charmingly out-of-tune, Cave belted his wonderfully vivid and literary lyrics, telling involved stories with nearly every song.

The Bad Seeds were a perfect match to Cave’s Dark Preacher persona, as they pounded out Exorcist-like keyboard riffs and bow-slapped violin strings Jimmy Page-style.

The first highlight of the night came during one of Cave’s best-known songs, “Red Right Hand,” he beckoned the main floor to leave their seats and crowd around the foot of the stage. With crimson lighting and Cave’s menacing growl of, “with his RED RIGHT HAND!,” the crowd gazed up at Cave and screamed along with every word. He followed up with the rough serial-killer number with “The Weeping Song,” that quickly shifted the riled crowd from rabid to serene, singing along with Cave, as he attempted to grab as much eye contact with his followers as he could.

The comic relief came with “God is in the House.” The song seemed to poke fun at Cave’s own beliefs and mannerisms as he mocked, with feigned bravado, “Now, no one’s in doubt/ that God is in the house/ C’mon, now, everyone!”

The rest of the night was filled with Cave playing some old fashioned call-and-response with the crowd, getting them to raise their hands in the air and commanding, “Save yourself!”

Although Cave rarely spoke between songs, he strived to connect with as many fans as he could. During one touching and funny moment, he handed the microphone to a fanatical young man in one of the first rows, dressed as mid-1980s Cave: slicked back dark hair, a suit and tie. The fan excitedly took the microphone from Cave and finished the song with a sweet, off-key warble. The crowd around him giggled and cheered.

Cave delivered two encores and ended his set with his obscene version of the traditional, “Stagger Lee,” from his fantastic Murder Ballads. The audience screamed and whooped as Cave told the story of the “meanest motherfucker,” as he spit the profanities out violently, still maintaining a sense of humor.

Neko Case opened the show with a similar kind of macabre mood. Her sexy and soulful voice filled the theater, setting the night for Cave’s brooding, inviting set. And I bet I wasn’t the only one who wished she would’ve come back to sing and take over the Kylie Minogue part of the Murder Ballads duet “Where the Wild Roses Grow.”

├▒Brianna Riplinger