Nick Cave told the audience at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on Saturday (October 7) that he had been crawling all over their heads the previous summer when he had previously performed there. I’m sorry to say, but this is a slightly different event. After two hours, Cave returned to The Boys Next Door and added Grinderman, with the remainder of the 25-song performance coming from his more extensive Bad Seeds discography. The series of private performances, which coincided with the paperback publication of Nick Cave’s book Faith, Hope, and Carnage—a collection of discussions with Irish writer Seán O’Hagan—started on September 19. Between each performance, Cave took a break at the piano, exploring his words more deeply than he ever would have while performing with the Bad Seeds. Colin Greenwood from Radiohead served as his sole musical accompaniment. We’re going to try to go on an expedition or somehow get inside these tunes, added Cave. It’s been fairly remarkable to do this because when I play these songs live and sit at the piano, I begin to figure out what they’re actually about in some manner.
After beginning the performance with “Girl in Amber,” Cave changed into the melancholy “Higgs Boson Blues,” a tune he claims he’s been questioned about constantly. With regard to the song from his 2013 Bad Seeds album Push the Sky Away, Cave commented, “I keep thinking I should explain it in some kind of way.” It’s like a never-ending cycle of experience leading to innocence. Because of this, “Hannah Montana,” who later transforms into Miley Cyrus, appears in it. Cave chuckles to himself and repeats, “that turns into Miley Cyrus,” pausing briefly to reread the Hannah Montana song’s lyrics. Prior to starting “Jesus of the Moon,” Cave tells the audience that his wife Susie asked him to dedicate the song to a person with the name “Pud” or “Puddy.” “I questioned her, ‘Who is Pud?'” “None of your fucking business,” she replied. Just give the song a dedication. This is for you, Puddy, wherever you may be. It’s a heart-felt statement. The concert was more of a musical sermon with dancing amid anecdotal backdrops and ink-black humor. The concert was a collection of short songs and songwriting pieces by Nick Cave. Cave signaled the lights to turn on by yelling “New York” for the first of many times that night.
He then made a joke about the next song having “some good words in it” and stated the lyrics. Because it appears that there are many other people searching for the other side, there are many riders in the sky. Cave of Ghosteen’s “Galleon Ship” jokingly remarked, “I thought that was pretty good.” The rest is fine, he continued. A complete song is not always provided. Sometimes four lines are sufficient. Earlier in the performance, Cave debuted a brand-new song called “To Be Found,” claiming it was created from “fragments of ideas.” He continued, “To write a song is a very vulnerable time.” He revealed that by creating the song’s chords, his son Earl also contributed to its creation. He added, before delivering the piano ballad’s lyrics, “It’s like a Cave and Cave.” And when the ocean, ground, and seas are all covered, the sun rises and looks to you in an effort to be discovered. Since Cave and Bad Seeds bandmate Warren Ellis collaborated on the album Carnage in 2021 and the 2019 release Ghosteen, “To Be Found” is the first new song in almost two years. He acknowledged that his son Earl also helped to the song’s composition by coming up with the song’s chords. Before singing the lyrics to the piano ballad, he added, “It’s like a Cave and Cave.” The sun rises and searches for you in an effort to be found when the ocean, ground, and oceans are all covered. “To Be Found” is Cave and Warren Ellis’ first new song in nearly two years, following their collaboration on the albums Carnage in 2021 and Ghosteen in 2019.
Cave presented back-to-back Carnage songs to get the crowd involved, starting with “Balcony Man,” which had the audience on the balcony cheering whenever the word “balcony” appeared in the song. The audience on the floor then witnessed “Carnage”. In reference to the second song, Cave said, “This one needs you to shut the fuck up,” before switching to the Bad Seeds’ “The Mercy Seat” from their Tender Prey album. The song “Black Hair,” which was probably written for Cave’s then-girlfriend PJ Harvey, was performed soulfully by Cave. He then performed “(Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?” and joked that it contained more “good words” than the song. By sharing “The Weeping Song” with the Bad Seeds without Greenwood, Cave concluded his 18-song journey through many eras. “This song is a conversation between a young man and his father,” said Cave. Father, why are all the women weeping? They are crying for their men. Then why are all the men there weeping? They are crying back at them. “The father tries to explain the nature of the world,” explained Cave as he strolled slowly through the verses.
The songs became more profound the more understated they were, such as the hymnal “Into My Arms” and moving “Jubilee Street,” which earned Cave one of many standing ovations during the evening. Before concluding with “Push the Sky Away” and maintaining the intensity of the closing tracks, Cave praised an upcoming rendition of the song by classical pianist Harriet Stubbs and former David Bowie pianist Mike Garson. Upon their return, Cave and Greenwood launched “Idiot Prayer.” He returned to No More Shall We Part and offered “Love Letter” as the audience drew nearer to the stage, then dug up “Shivers,” one of his early songs with The Boys Next Door (later The Birthday Party). Rowland S. Howard, the band’s guitarist, penned the touching ballad, which served as the band’s closing track on the 1979 album Door, Door. According to Cave, Howard was barely 16 years old when he wrote it. “He was just a kid,” Cave added. It’s actually rather fantastic, I must say. Before listening to “Brompton Oratory,” another song from Boatman’s Call, Cave remarked that it featured some of his favorite lyrics. It’s enormously troublesome in its own right, but it’s really, really fantastic, according to Cave. Both bands sang “The Ship Song” as their encore, and after Greenwood left, Cave stayed on stage for one more farewell. He said, “I’ll sing this before I leave,” before finishing the private gathering with “People Ain’t No Good” by Boatman. On October 27 and 28, Cave will perform two nights at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, California, to round out his small-scale tour.
Nick Cave’s set list for his performance on October 7, 2023, at the Beacon Theatre in New York City
“Girl in Amber”
“Higgs Boson Blues”
“Jesus of the Moon”
“To Be Found”
“I Need You”
“Waiting for You”
“Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry”
“The Mercy Seat”
“(Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?”
“The Weeping Song”
“Into My Arms”
“Push the Sky Away”
“Palaces of Montezuma”
“The Ship Song”
“People Ain’t No Good”