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Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Distant Sky (live in Copenhagen)

by Kevin Orton Rating: Release Date:
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Distant Sky
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Distant Sky

I’ve seen Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds live a ton over the years. I’ve never seen them like this. I’ve also seen a ton of concert films over the years from Ziggy Stardust to The Last Waltz. I’ve never seen a concert film like Distant Sky. And if ever there were a concert film to be seen on the big screen (as opposed to the small), this is it. Don’t come here expecting the dinosaur nod and wink of Scorsese’s Shine A Light. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are at the height of their powers. At one point, I realized my jaw had gone slack with awe.

Cave and company start off with a whisper instead of a scream with the haunting, ‘Anthrocene’ off his devastating album, Skeleton Tree. While I wasn’t checking a list, I’m pretty sure the entirety of Skeleton Tree is on offer here. For an album of burn close, claustrophobic grief it translates magnificently to the stage (not to mention, big screen). For years, I’ve seen Cave rage against the dying of the light with gusto. I’ve never seen him wield that light like a scalpel, with the deft precision of a seasoned surgeon. These songs are above all else, moving. Cave connecting with his audience in a way I’ve never seen before. I believe “rapport” is the operative term. There were times where I stifled a tear in my eye. Other times, I laughed out loud at some off the cuff remark or gesture Cave made. At the age of 60, he is a performer at the height of his powers. The man is on fire. And sometimes that fire smolders then suddenly explodes as it does on a sensational, ‘Jubilee Street’. ‘Higgs Boson Blues’ sends a shiver and at times, a welcome chuckle. The song’s innate wit and humor really coming out in a live setting. Elsewhere he gives unforgettable and formidable performances of classics in ‘From Her To Eternity,’ ‘Tupelo’ and ‘Red Right Hand’. Not to mention the perennial, ‘Mercy Seat’. Among the ballads on offer is an extremely touching, ‘Into My Arms’ and a most welcome, ‘Ship Song’.

 For an encore, Cave literally leaves the stage to stand amid his audience for a stunning rendition of ‘The Weeping Song’. Then he literally invites the audience onstage for a rousing sing along in the beautifully profane and gloriously obscene, ‘Stagger Lee’. There’s something positively hilarious about the audience singing and dancing along to lines like, “I’d crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to some fat boy’s asshole.”  To conclude, Cave brings everyone together for the send off of, ‘Push The Sky Away’.

Not only a powerful cinematic experience, the filmmakers do an astounding job of putting you right there in the audience. It really does feel like you’re experiencing this all live as opposed to through the glass of the big screen. As a performer, Cave has hit a whole new stride. Generous and open-hearted. Edgy and dark. Intimate and blazing. It’s a whole new Cave and yet, it’s the same old Cave fans long for. As for the band, this current ensemble of the Bad Seeds is in astounding form. Cave, both headliner and band member in every sense of the word. There’s only one way to describe this film: A triumph. Do your damnedest to catch it on the big screen.

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