Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – ‘Live from KCRW’ | Album Review

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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds manage to deliver the complexity of the songs in the most simplistic and effective way possible…

With their extensive back catalogue of studio albums, singles, and one-off releases, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds tuck another live album under their belt with the recent release of ‘Live from KCRW’. For this album the distinctive deadpan and charged performance that characterises the band’s sound has been stripped down to its bare bones, with the intimacy of the live session for LA’s KCRW radio station translating beautifully across the entirety of the album. Through this unadorned performance, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds manage to deliver the complexity of the songs in the most simplistic and effective way possible.

The album eases you in with the broody guitar strums and crooning vocals of Nick Cave on ‘Higgs Boson Blues’. Despite the minimalism of the setting, Cave still retains aspects of performance throughout the album and manages to convey them subtly yet effectively in this song, with his cry of “Here comes Lucifer!” managing to strike the perfect balance between fear and resignation. Cave’s lyric about Miley Cyrus also begins to sound particularly topical in this rendition, and manages to crack a few laughs from the audience.

‘Higgs Boson Blues’ is then chased down with ‘Far From Me’, which ends with the audience enthusiastically attempting to guess the next song, and some brief but well delivered banter from Nick Cave himself. The piano is then introduced with ‘The Mercy Seat’ which seems to create a grandiose atmosphere, perfect for the numerous bible references, highlighting the authority with which Cave delivers the lyric “a eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. The piano is also offset by Warren Ellis’ beautifully melancholic violin interludes which deserve special mention. The hauntingly eerie ‘Push the Sky Away’ from the recently released eponymous album, is also another highlight. The layered singing, and sparse instrumental really stays with you for long after the album ends, with Cave’s hypnotic vocals being the highlight of the sparse track.

Despite these excellently executed tracks, songs such as ‘And No Longer Shall we Part’ fail to make an impression, with Cave’s usually lustrous vocals sounding strained, and the percussion almost sounding gimmicky and twee. The closing track ‘Jack the Ripper’ is well performed, but seems to jar completely with the atmosphere of the album as a whole, ending the album with a confused burst of energy.

Overall Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have created a well-crafted album. When the songs succeed they soar into the bounds of brilliance, yet some off-key song choices prevent the album from reaching it’s full potential. The album ends with the enthusiastic sated clapping of the audience, yet on the contrary, it left me with the slight murmurings of disappointment.

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