Having had the Nick Cave experience for the first time when seeing him perform live with his band The Bad Seeds last summer, I had good reason to be excited for Grinderman, Cave’s other musical jaunt, perform live at the Academy. Whereas the Bad Seeds serve – albeit with Cave’s own brand of vigour and energy – a more rounded sound that draws attention to an impressive songwriting ability, Grinderman was a whole other ball game.
The opening number, and also the first track on new album Grinderman 2, ‘Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man’ provided an explosion of power and intensity, with Cave booming “He sucked her and he sucked her and he sucked her dry” with the face of somebody possessed. A storming entrance which left no doubt of the wonderfully dark and grungy treat in store.
But they were only getting started. During ‘Worm Tamer’ Cave’s almost fanatical guitar solo led to him falling on drummer Jim Sclavunos’s cymbals, for which he wryly apologised after. Cave, who has always been wary of escaping a reputation for comfortable respectability, has openly acknowledged Grinderman for providing him with the opportunity to embarrass himself, and to exorcise a more wild, untamed passion. This was more than self-evident throughout.
By the time Heathen Child, the first single from Grinderman 2, was played, the stage resembled a sort of hellish pit from which the madness erupted – bassist Warren Ellis made for a remarkable sight as he flailed with the violin, and later violently brandished the maracas. Even the rare subdued moments such as ‘Palaces of Montezuma’ held a brooding passion.
All in all, the whole set was a lip-smacking display of enthusiasm and angry energy. Indeed, it was really only the rather tame audience that prevented the gig from being the sweaty, heated experience it deserved. Love or hate Grinderman’s music, it’s impossible to deny they put on one hell of a show.
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